Create a Mood Changing Photo-book
We know that young people with Autism are anxious. One of the very best strategies for dealing with stressful moments is to make a mood changing scrap book or a photo-book that the young person can look at on the i-pad or computer.
Fill the scrap book with images that the young person loves: favourite pastimes, cartoon characters, favourite food, cute animals, favourite people or places, – anything that will make them smile or attract their attention. This will distract the brain long enough to switch off the stress response and switch on the thinking brain. It can be used at start of day in the car, bus or train; in the classroom before registration; after playtime or lunch time before returning to class, five minutes before home time, etc. Download a Photo-book that the young person can customise and add their own images.
Using Take a Break Cards
When a young person with ADHD or Autism become anxious or frustrated they will have difficulty communicating effectively.
Train them to use these 6 cards – either the young person can request a break or you can give a choice of card if you see they are getting anxious or frustrated.
Download the cards. The young person can customise the cards to suit their own interests.
Practice using them when the young person is in a good mood, NOT when they are angry or upset.
By practicing them regularly, they will learn to recognise when they need them and they will become embedded in long term memory and hopefully, become a default mechanism
Activities that will help to calm the child include whole body movements- lifting objects, pushing and pulling and actions including sucking, blowing and chewing. Here are some exercises that will help to calm the child. Always encourage the child to do some physical exercise before any activity that requires sustained concentration such as homework.
- Use the questionnaire to assess how inclusive your school is for a pupil with autism
- Print out a ‘Christmas Count Down Calendar’ showing the whole of December and mark on it everything that is happening over the next few weeks. Add pictures to link the calendar to the child’s special interest (trains, animals, dinosaurs, Minecraft etc.) as this will help them connect to it.
- Highlight the next event on the calendar and cross it off afterwards as this helps the child focus on one thing at a time.
Poster for a child to fill in with information about themselves.
Receiving and Understanding the Autism Diagnosis
This is a free resource from the Autism Education Trust. These films have been made by young people on the autism spectrum who wanted to share their experiences of receiving a diagnosis with other young people who may be going through the diagnosis process. They know that receiving a diagnosis of autism can be difficult and confusing at any age and for this reason wanted to offer some help and support to young people and their families. There are also films of parents and professionals talking about the process of diagnosis.
Girls and Autism
A study by the National Autistic Society found that Autism is more than three times more prevalent in boys than in girls. It is now thought that many girls go undiagnosed which could partly be due to the diagnostic criteria focusing on male behaviour and traits. Girls with Autism present differently, often being shy or passive, having an increased ability to copy the behaviour of their peers to fit in and their intense interests focusing on similar things to other girls. Recently Increasing numbers of girls are receiving an Autism diagnosis. This helpful free report by the National Association of Special Educational Needs identifies key issues for girls with autism and provides some practical support strategies.
Ideas for using The Red Beast Thermometer
This thermometer uses words and colour to describe the stages of the Red Beast on a five-point scale. Here are some ideas for using the thermometer:
Children could create a Red Beast ‘menu’ describing what makes their Red Beast develop from calm to furious – here are some ideas:
Calm: Doing my special interest/ horse riding / trampoline / computer / music/ massage/
Grumpy: Being told I must leave my special interest and do something else / getting up in the morning / people touching my things
Annoyed: A change of plan from a favoured activity to something else without warning, e.g., computer crashing, swimming pool out of use, teacher absence
Angry: People making fun of me / doing handwriting / school assemblies/
Furious: People trying to talk to me when I am angry / loud voices and angry faces of other people / broken equipment / lost equipment / being forced to do something I feel afraid of – e.g. tests