Resources for Educators

Developmental therapies are a good fit with principles for best practice in inclusive education.  Strategies used to support students with autism are generally strategies that will benefit all students (Villa and Thousand, 2000):

  • cooperative and partner learning
  • learning through exploration and modeling
  • balanced literacy
  • interdisciplinary (integrated) units
  • authentic assessment
  • social and emotional learning as the foundation for academic success

A universal design for learning approach allows for the flexibility needed to support students with autism in the classroom.

Teaching for Inclusion

Three-Block Model of Universal Design

How do you set up your school program to allow every student to participate in a way that meets them where their capabilities are now, and challenges them to grow?  Universal Design for Learning uses the architectural idea of planning a building to allow access for all kinds of users from the start, rather than retrofitting entrances after the building is complete.  Universal Design for Learning addresses both social and academic needs of learners – because students need to be comfortable and feel safe in order to learn well.  It also addresses the fact that everyone has unique ways of understanding information and learning skills.  How can we create classrooms that are true communities, where everyone is welcome, everyone learns and everyone benefits from what others can contribute?

Dr. Jennifer Katz (University of British Columbia, Faculty of Education)  has written Teaching to Diversity: The Three-Block Model of Universal Design for Learning, available from Portage & Main Press.

Dr. Katz’s website about the 3-Block Model of UDL can be found here.  The Manitoba Alliance for Universal Design for Learning has a Twitter account: (@maudelcan).  They also put on an annual summer conference.  Books by Faye Brownlie and Leyton Schnellert also offer concrete suggestions for managing students at different levels.

Other UDL Links:

Website: The Inclusive Class

www.theinclusiveclass.com

This site aims to explore the issues around the promise and practice of inclusion with recognized experts in the field of inclusive education.  Educators and parents to gain a better understanding of what inclusion means, strategies for successful inclusion and the role of parents in inclusive education.

Manitoba Education Resource Documents

Towards Inclusion: Supporting Positive Behaviour in Manitoba Classrooms

These support documents describes both proactive and reactive procedures and practices associated with positive behaviour support for use in the Manitoba classroom context. These procedures and practices are presented as key elements that teachers have found useful to increase success rates and reduce negative behaviour, thereby enhancing their ability to deliver effective instruction to all students.

Success for All Learners is a well-appreciated resource listing many ways to differentiate instruction for student success.  It and other provincial resources can be found on Manitoba Education’s Student Services page.

 

Social and Emotional Learning

Canadian Self-Regulation Initiative

The Canadian Self-Regulation Initiative has been established to help parents and educators ‘reframe’ a child’s behavior: to understand the reasons why a child might be having trouble paying attention, ignoring distractors, inhibiting his impulses, modulating his emotions, and overall, maintaining a state of being calmly focused and alert. In far too many cases the problem lies in the excessive levels of stress that the child is struggling with.  For more information and resources read our review and summary of Calm, Alert and Learning or go to:

http://www.self-regulation.ca

The Incredible 5 Point Scale

http://www.5pointscale.com/

In this must-have resource, “two teachers from Minnesota” share their successful use of the simple concept of 5-point scales to help students understand and control their emotional reactions to everyday events that might otherwise set in emotion escalating reactions. Whether it is inappropriate touching, obsessions, yelling, hitting or making hurtful statements to classmates, this clearly illustrated book shows how to break down a given behavior and, with the student’s active participation, develop a unique scale that identifies the problem and, just as important, suggests alternative, positive behaviors at each level of the scale.   Check out the website for additional ideas.

The Alert Program: How Does Your Engine Run?

http://www.alertprogram.com/

An innovative program that supports children, teachers, parents, and therapists to choose appropriate strategies to change or maintain states of alertness. Students learn what they can do before a spelling test or homework time to attain an optimal state of alertness for their tasks. Teachers learn what they can do after lunch, when their adult nervous systems are in a low alert state and their students are in a high alert state. Leaders of the program not only learn what they can do to support self-regulation, but how to share the underlying theory so all can understand the basics of sensory integration.

Autism-Specific Resources

Paula Kluth

Dr. Paula Kluth is a consultant, author, advocate, and independent scholar who works with teachers and families to provide inclusive opportunities for students with disabilities and to create more responsive and engaging schooling experiences for all learners. Paula is a former special educator who has served as a classroom teacher and inclusion facilitator. Her professional interests include differentiating instruction and inclusive schooling.

Dr. Kluth has written several books, and also has a blog on inclusive schooling here:

http://www.paulakluth.com/

Rehabilitation Centre for Children Seminars for Professionals

The RELATE program is a RDI-based program supporting children with autism in Manitoba.  In addition to working with parents, the clinicians also offer seminars for teachers and clinicians.  Topics include dealing with challenging behavior, supporting language development, social thinking, and guiding from a developmental perspective.  Check with the RCC for seminars and dates.

PLAY Project

PLAY Project is a DIR-Floortime based program.  They are in the early stages of offering Teaching PLAY, a training program for early years teachers wanting to incorporate principles and strategies of developmental autism therapies into the classroom.

ICDL (The Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders)

ICDL is the organization that pioneered DIR/Floortime. THeir website page on Educational Interventions discusses IEPs, essential components of a child’s school day, and other topics.

SCERTS

The SCERTS® Model is a research-based educational approach and multidisciplinary framework that directly addresses the core challenges faced by children and persons with ASD and related disabilities, and their families. SCERTS® focuses on building competence in Social Communication, Emotional Regulation and Transactional Support as the highest priorities that must be addressed in any program, and is applicable for individuals with a wide range of abilities and ages across home, school and community settings.

More information and resources can be found here.

Integrated Play Groups

IPG is an research-validated strategy to support autistic children’s growth in play with their peers. It is designed to promote socialization, communication, play and imagination in children on the autism spectrum while building relationships with typical peers and siblings through mutually engaging experiences in natural settings. Through of the IPG model include innovations as sensory integration, drama, art, video and other creative activities of high interest for children, teens and adults.

http://www.wolfberg.com/

The Gray Center

The Gray Center cultivates the strengths of individuals with autism and those who interact with them, and globally promotes social understanding. Our vision is to assist all individuals in the shared challenge of building and maintaining effective social connections. Strategies offered include Carol Gray’s social stories, a system of written supports for children and adolescents in social situations.

Social Stories Website

Intricate Minds Videos

Coulter Videos has produced three videos that give kids (and adults) a better understanding of what it feels like to have different sensory perceptions than the average child.  They are narrated by a student, and include interviews with students on the autism spectrum.  You can see samples and summaries here:

Intricate Minds II: Understanding Elementary School Classmates with Aspergers Syndrome

Intricate Minds III:  Understanding Elementary School Classmates Who Think Differently

In Closing, Some Inspiration:  The Community School

Take a few minutes to view this video.  It’s about an entire school focused on putting DIR into practice, and it’s working for the children it serves.  What’s even more wonderful is that the ideas can be implemented in individual classrooms.  You can also read the New York Times article about the school here.