April Is Autism Month

Term 2 started on Monday, April 01, 2019.

We already have a board prepared to promote Autism Awareness on World Autism day on April 02.

The teachers, staff and learners are all going to wear blue during the month of April.

Whilst my grandchild has Fragile X Syndrome (will talk about that in a later blog and maybe introduce you to some other syndromes that the FiXers have) , the leading cause of genetic autism and intellectual disability, we are often faced with meltdowns with our Autistic Learners.

One thing that has been life-changing for some of the learners and to avoid meltdowns is using:

  1. MINUTE WARNINGS/TIMERS: Learners may need a 5 minute, 2 minute, or 1 minute warning before there is a change of activity. These warnings help the learner prepare for the transition. They will begin to learn that the warning comes and then the change comes. Eventually, the minute warnings become routine, even if the next task is not.
  2. FIRST/THEN: Many of our other tantrums/meltdowns are over wanting something they can’t have at that moment. A toy, a snack, leaving their desk or work station NOW. Or there is something they DON’T want to do. For many of these situations we use first/then.  “First___, then____” statements are used to help a child finish a task before getting something motivating.

“First we finish our lunch, then we can go outside.”
“First we will clean up, then we can go play on the trampoline.”

Many learners with autism think in pictures, so that is often the initial go to method. At FiX Africa the FiXers utilize PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) or Gridplayer. They then progress to Letterboards to spell words and hopefully then progress to sentences.

It’s a simple phrase that provides structure in a child’s mind and helps them follow the directions at hand. It can help decrease a child’s frustration because they can understand exactly what is expected of them.

Finally always reward and compliment good behaviour and whether you are a parent, grandparent or educator REMAIN CALM.