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Thursday, August 24, 2017

6 Ways to Help the Sensory Sensitive Child

Have you been told you will have a child or children in your class with sensory issues?  
Did you say to yourself "What on earth does that mean?"
Do you have a child you think might be autistic but isn't diagnosed or the testing has come back negative? 

If that's the case, you might have a student that is sensitive to sensory input.

Each year I seem to get more and more students with sensory issues, with or without another diagnosis such as low/high tone, autism or CP.

Let's take a closer look.

What do they look like?

They may be the child with no friends. The one who sits alone. The one other children avoid because they are "odd".  They may become overwhelmed or distracted in situations in which they become over stimulated.  They may seem like they have autism or behaviour problems because of the coping mechanisms they have been using to get through the day.

They may......  

Chew:  On their hands, on their clothes, on toys, on virtually anything.
Scream:  Loud and often.
Hide: These are the kids hiding under the desk or the table, curled into a ball.
Cover their ears: Having their hands over their ears is common.
Throw things: When frustrated, things go flying including their own body.
Spin: Round and round, with or without their arms out.

They may be sensitive to.......

Loud noises

They may have difficulty:

Staying still
With transitions

What can we do for them?

Whether your student has been diagnosed or not, here are 6 easy to implement ideas for you to try in the classroom.

1.  Use chew toys

There are lots of inexpensive commercially available chew toys (Chewlry and Chewigem are just two names).  They come in necklaces and bracelets, pencil tops and clip-ons. They have both boy and girl styles and have age appropriate models for any age.

2.  Use headphones

In order to block out loud noises in the auditorium, gym or classroom,  you can get noise cancelling headphones or a regular headset depending on how much sound needs to be muffled.  Some students prefer wearing hats or hoods over their ears if that is enough to make them feel secure.

3. Weighted toys.

Adding weight often helps a child with sensory issues feel more secure and less fidgety.  You can buy commercially made toys or vests in various weights or you can make one yourself.  Add beans or rice to long socks and sew up the end.  Add googly eyes and you have a snake.  Drape over the child's shoulders or across their lap.  Simple and inexpensive.

4. Alternate seating or flexible seating.

Letting your student pick how and where they sit may help reduce off task behaviors.  If they need to stand, let them.  If they need something firm or soft, let them pick.  This ties in with self regulation and advocating for themselves as well.  Giving them control of their environment will reduce their need to fight back against it.

5.  Quiet area

A quiet area is important for the child to have.  They need a space they can go to, to get away from everything that is overwhelming them. This gives them an area to be able to calm down in that is safe, is familiar and has calming items in it such as books, pillows or a favorite toy. 

6. Sensory Area

Having a sensory area available to students with high sensory needs is important for a couple of reasons. For one thing, it can be quite calming.  The deep pressure of pushing and pulling putty or other gooey substances can be soothing while working on fine motor skills and strength.  For another, many children find it calming to look into sensory bottles or lava lamps.  Add these items to your quiet area if they help.

I hope I've given you a few ideas that you can take back to your classroom and implement with the students in your class that are sensory sensitive.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Free Calendar Pieces

I can't believe that the end of summer is around the corner.  Where did the time go?  Are starting to panic a little like I am?  Do I have everything?  Am I ready?

To help you get a little more organized I put together all of my free calendar pieces in one place for you.

Whether you need numbers for a specific month, such as March.

or you are doing a special theme, such as pets,  I've got some numbers for you.

Also, you can print out 2 sets of numbers and use them in your math centers for a memory game.

Click on the pictures below to get your free numbers.

If you download any of the calendar numbers, I would love if you leave me some feedback.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

3 ways to increase vocabulary using word wall cards

Many special education students don't have the experiences that their typically developing peers have.  If a child cannot walk or talk, cannot hold things or turn their head in certain directions, then their view of the world is different from other children.  Autistic children often experience the world in ways that differ from those of other children due to the nature of their condition.

Because of this, it is very important for us as teachers to make sure that our students have experiences to expose them to situations, events and vocabulary that they may otherwise not experience.

Word walls cards also known as flash cards are a great tool to use for testing and practicing new vocabulary.  How to you use them in your class?  Here are 3 ways that I use word cards in my class to test prior knowledge and increase the vocabulary skills of my students.

When introducing a new topic to my students, word wall cards are a great way to see what they know.  When we started our farm theme I asked my students if  they had been to a farm before.  Did they know what a farm was?   What kind of things would we see on a farm.  We made several CHARTS which demonstrated what they knew about farms.  Testing prior knowledge is very important to know where you are starting from.  We started out by just putting up words they knew such as the animals on the farm.  As the month progressed we added vocabulary that did not belong on a farm and I had the children tell me what did belong on farm and what might not be on a farm.  You can make charts of farm animals and farm people and farm equipment.  The possibilities are endless.  Display the charts around the room for your students to refer to throughout the day.

Do you have a child that can't talk?  No problem.  Hold up two pictures, one that belongs on a farm and one that doesn't.  If they can point, have them point to the correct answer.  If they can't point, have them look at the right answer. 

Once I've determined what vocabulary my students know and what they have to work on, I add the word cards to my WRITING center.  Students can practice writing just the words, they can use the cards to help with spelling in their stories or they can use them as story starters.

Did you have a child that can't print?  Put the cards at the computer station for them to type.  Even children using assistive technology can practice typing.

The third activity I do with my word cards is to put them in a literacy center as a CONCENTRATION game.  I make two copies of the cards and put out a varying number depending on the group and how well them know the pictures.   The kids love this game.  It's also great for working on turn taking.

For children with poor fine motor skills, laminate and put Velcro on the cards.  Attach them to a Velcro board so they don't get knocked to the ground.  

How do you use word wall cards in your class?