Last year in Grade 2 Johnny really “went with the flow” and followed along with the routines in the classroom. He paid attention and watched his peers for clues on what to do next. Is it recess time? Is it lineup time? Is it reading time? The Grade 2 teacher was very proud that he was tuning in and was really part of the Grade 2 group. Most of all Johnny was very happy. Where challenges would pop up is when he had to go to the Special Education classroom that we call ISP Autism Room (Intensive Support Room). He wanted to be with his friends and was not seeing himself as being part of THAT room. Wow right?
The only thing is that even though the Grade 2 room was supportive and inclusive and very dynamic with a very experienced wonderful teacher, it still wasn’t the best place for Johnny to be learn. He learns in other ways that are more visual and may need more prompting and one on one assistance. One thing I can say about my boy is he is very stubborn and he was perfectly happy to happily struggle away in the regular general education classroom. His Daddy and I had to find a way to convince him to transition back and forth between both classrooms and find value in both places. We explained to him that the ASD classroom is set up as a place for tutoring in specific things that he finds hard. We then asked that the Autism support team from the school board and the school based team create a visual schedule based on these transitions. They did follow through but in the latter part of the school year the Grade 2 teacher was changing her schedule day to day week to week which made it hard.
One of the other reasons why we insisted on a visual schedule for him was because even though Johnny was trying so hard to follow along and be part of the group and do all the routines, why remove his safety net? What is the point of increasing so much anxiety in him as he goes over and over in his head what the expectations are so he fits in? How can you be a successful learner and risk taker if you are filled with anxiety. Why not have his schedule where he can see it so that instantly he can go to his “first language” which is visual and know what is expected. Don’t teachers use calendars and agendas?
So now we are in Grade 3 and right away at the beginning of the school year, the ASD teacher created visual schedules using Boardmaker. They are printed out and laminated using velcro because Johnny prefers the tactile feeling of touching and physically moving his PEC’s. He also can see his schedule anytime on his iPad using the Boardmaker App as well as its displayed on the Smartboard in his ISP ASD Room. Some days the schedule gets wonky and new unplanned activities happen which require flexibility in Johnny. But at the same time there is something grounding knowing that day after day, week after week he has his Grade 3 schedule.
*Credit Boardmaker Online: https://www.boardmakeronline.com and Mr G 🙂