'No Pressure Learning' by Jenny Lockwood continued

HorseBoyPrimeNumbers

Let me give you an example. Rowan has recently been learning about prime numbers. He took on board very quickly the concept of a prime number and we played games and did activities around identifying prime numbers. But when a friend asked him directly whether 5 was a prime number he couldn’t answer. Even though earlier that day we had discovered together that 5 was a prime number and he was excited about it and confident in that knowledge.
For this reason when we teach children with autism we always introduce a new topic or concept slowly without, at first, expecting any feedback from the child at all. Instead we simply talk about the concept in the presence of the child whilst also partaking in an activity that the child enjoys. When the child feels ready they will voluntarily begin to take a more active role in the conversation.
We also never directly test the child. Direct testing automatically puts pressure on someone. Rowan’s fear of failure is so strong that rather than risk getting the answer wrong he shuts down. Sometimes he even says ‘I’m not answering that.’
So how do we ensure that the child has taken something on board without eliciting this response?
We either wait for the child to voluntarily confirm that they know something by talking about it or do what we call stealth testing. Let’s go back to the prime number example. Instead of asking Rowan directly what a prime number is or whether a certain number is a prime number I invented a game which involved cardboard cut outs of his favorite cartoon characters so that he was motivated to take part in it. Each of the cartoon characters was assigned a different number and together we separated them into two piles, one for the prime number characters and the other for the composite number characters. I then ‘ruined’ his numbers by mixing the piles up and when he sorted them back out correctly I knew he had gotten it.
We call this technique ‘drop it, do it, confirm it’ and have found that if we follow these rules and tailor everything we are doing to the child’s interest then we can teach everything from letters and numbers to advanced topics such as learning equations and cell structure. To find out more please visit our website at www.horseboyworld.com or email jenny@horseboyworld.com.

'No Pressure Learning' by Jenny Lockwood

Caroline’s Commentary: Here is another approach to teaching children with autism without pressure from Jenny Lockwood from the New Trails School in Texas.

As I haven’t written anything for this blog for a while I thought I would start by reintroducing myself. My name is Jenny Lockwood and I am the education director of an organization called The Horse Boy Foundation. The Horse Boy Foundation was founded by Rupert Isaacson, an autism dad, whose son Rowan learned to communicate on the back of a horse. The book and movie of this story, both entitled ‘The Horse Boy’, are readily available on Netflix and Amazon. Rupert began inviting other autism families out to spend time with his horses and soon discovered that what worked for Rowan seemed to work for other kids on the spectrum as well. We now work with children all over the world and train other horse practitioners in the methods that Rupert discovered. We also train parents, teachers and schools to work more effectively with children with autism in the home or classroom by setting up an autism friendly environment (preferably outside in nature), allowing the child to move and tailoring everything to the child’s passions and interests.

One of the cornerstones of our method is to never put pressure on a child. Research shows that if a person feels under too much pressure this can cause stress and the production of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is released by the amygdala in response to threat and it causes one of three reactions in the body: flight, fight or freeze. Children on the autism spectrum have an overactive amygdala which means that their bodies are often flooded with cortisol in response to seemingly benign situations that they have identified as a threat. It therefore follows suit that children with autism are also much more likely to produce cortisol when under pressure and it is this that causes them to shut down in response to that pressure. Exactly the opposite of what we are trying to achieve.

HorseBoycortisol

Part 2 of No Pressure Learning coming…
To find out more please visit our website at www.horseboyworld.com or email jenny@horseboyworld.com.

Autism Angel, Carly Fleischmann

Caroline’s commentary:

This is an inspirational story of Carly Fleischmann, who with the dedication and perseverance of her parents and therapists, eventually over time came out of her shell.
Never give up on your child with autism. You just never know when or how they will start communicating with the world. You have to do whatever it takes to reach them.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34xoYwLNpvw

'The Autism Project' in the Toronto Star this week November 10 – 18th

Caroline’s commentary:

This week The Toronto Star publishes a series of articles called ‘The Autism Project” which you can read online at www.thestar.com

American research now shows 1 in 88 children — 1 in 54 boys — is diagnosed with autism. The rising numbers mean it is impossible for teachers to go their entire career without autistic children in the class.

Five years ago, 7,000 Ontario public schoolchildren were identified as autistic. Today, that number has more than doubled. The Toronto District School Board, Canada’s largest, estimates 1 in 88, or close to 3,000, is on the autism spectrum. The Durham District School Board puts their number at 1 in 75.

Canadian children, on average, are not diagnosed until age 4, after many have already started school. That means the majority of those kids will still not have received therapy.

Yet there is no mandatory teacher training in autism, or special education for regular classroom teachers. Teachers can take an elective course in university, or take extra courses once they start their careers, but they pay for those and take them on their own time.

Isabel Killoran, a professor at York University’s Faculty of Education and former special education teacher, says a teacher’s greatest challenge is that “no two children with autism are the same.”

She teaches a 36-hour course in special education, helping teachers learn common strategies that can help in class, depending on the child’s needs.

Children with autism think and learn differently. They need organization and structure, lessons in social skills and how to manage stress; they don’t tolerate a lot of noise and distractions.

Killoran’s big message though: behaviour is communication.

“It’s our job to be detective and figure out what’s triggering the behaviour. A lot of time it is something that’s environmental, something happening in the classroom.”

All school boards have an autism resource team — special education teachers, psychologists, speech language pathologists — to provide support to schools, but even school officials recognize it isn’t enough.

The Durham board launched its own autism training centre for teachers. It instructs them in how to set up a classroom to minimize distraction, how to use visual schedules so children with autism know what to expect, and how to anticipate an autistic child’s unruly behaviour. The program already has a waiting list.

Says Doug Crichton, the board’s superintendent of special education: “We’re working on the premise that in almost every classroom, certainly in every school, we’re going to have children with autism.” Continue reading “'The Autism Project' in the Toronto Star this week November 10 – 18th”

'Rowan's First Physics Lesson' by Jenny Lockwood/Teaching Children with Autism

Caroline’s Commentary:

Here is a story from Jenny Lockwood of The New Trails Center in Texas that we thought you might enjoy.  This is another example of making learning fun using the game of chase in the outdoors to learn about mass, volume, force and velocity.  Subsequently Rowan made up his own story incorporating these new words which showed he had understood their meaning and the basic concepts of Physics.

‘Rowan’s First Physics Lesson’ by Jenny Lockwood

Rowan has now reached the fourth grade and according to the national curriculum is ready to learn about measurement. He is already pretty confident with the idea of length, distance and speed – after all it is very important to know exactly how many miles it is to each of his favorite zoos and approximately how long it will take us to get there. However recently we decided that he was ready for us to introduce the concepts of mass, volume, force and velocity – in other words his first physics lesson.

Now, like me, many of you will recoil in horror at the word physics. How many of us sat there in class week after week bored and confused whilst our teachers droned on at us about completely abstract concepts that we considered at the time to be of no importance to our lives whatsoever? We therefore decided it was essential to begin teaching Rowan about physics in a fun and lighthearted way in order to give him the best possible chance to learn.

Rowan is an incredibly intelligent boy who will learn everything there is to know about a subject as long as he is interested in it and motivated to learn about it. The only challenge when teaching him is catching and holding his interest long enough for him to soak up the information you are trying to impart. There are a number of tried and true techniques we use to do this, the first of which is to introduce any new concept to him in a no pressure environment without, at first, expecting anything back. Of equal importance is to spend as much time as possible teaching him outdoors in a natural environment whilst he is moving and to make whatever topic we are covering as fun as possible.

We therefore spent a number of days chasing Rowan through the woods in an ‘evil godzilla style’ whilst simply talking to him about the concepts of mass, volume, force and velocity. It wasn’t long before Rowan had started incorporating these words into his vocabulary and using the concepts in a story that he made up which I have written out for you to read below. Continue reading “'Rowan's First Physics Lesson' by Jenny Lockwood/Teaching Children with Autism”

'The world needs all kinds of minds' Temple Grandin talks at TED Conference

Caroline’s commentary:

I watched the movie ‘Temple Grandin’ again over the Christmas holiday.  If you have not seen it yet, you must watch it.  Here is a talk Dr. Grandin gave at a TED Conference just after the release of the movie about her life, where she emphasizes the world needs all different kinds of minds: visual thinkers, pattern thinkers and verbal thinkers.   She also stresses the importance of mentors as teachers in high schools and one on one tutoring for autistic children under 5.  “You’ve got to show student’s interesting stuff to learn,” says Temple.

Here at the Tree of Life Centre for Creativity, in the Creative Art Adventures program, the student’s learn about all sorts of subjects:  natural life cycles, weather patterns, insects, all kinds of animals, geography, the 4 elements, air, fire, water, earth, and how we humans are connected to all the elements and to all life.  We teach all subjects through painting, drawing, clay modelling, music and storytelling.  The children are encouraged to follow whatever interests them, in this way the learning experience is exciting and fun for everyone.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fn_9f5x0f1Q

Horse Boy Method Intro with Rupert Isaacson

Caroline’s Commentary:

If you enjoy horses and horseback riding both you and your child will benefit from the healing power of horses.  As a parent or teacher spending time with a reliable horse will help to relieve stress and recharge.  Some children on the autism spectrum really connect with horses and you may want to explore this more with them.  Here is a video about the Horse Boy Method designed for autistic children as well as their parents, teachers and caregivers.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vizsT4_g9A&feature=related

'The Horse Boy Story & Method' by Jenny Lockwood

Caroline’s Commentary:

Here is an overview of The Horse Boy Story and Method by Rowan’s  teacher,  Jenny Lockwood.  I highly recommend both the documentary film and the book ‘The Horse Boy’ as well as the Horse Boy Method of teaching academics which will be posted next month, mid December.  Even if you do not have access to horses, the Horse Boy Method can be utilized for teaching children on the autism spectrum.  It is even possible for an autistic child to draw or paint on a horse!

Rupert Isaacson, a lifelong horse fanatic, was devastated when his 2 year old son Rowan was diagnosed with autism. Gone were his dreams of one day sharing his passion of horses with his son…or so he thought. Rowan seemed unreachable, however, whenever his dad took him into the woods behind their house, his tantrums and stimmings seemed to calm down. One day, Rowan ran away from his dad and got through the fence into their neighbor’s property and in amongst his horse herd. Rupert had been keeping his son away from horses – thinking him unsafe around them. However, that day he witnessed something extraordinary. Instead of trampling this squirming, babbling little child lying on his back among their hooves, the horses backed off gently. Then the boss of the herd, a mare called Betsy, came over and began to lower her head in front of Rowan, to lick and chew with her lips. This is the sign of equine submission. Rupert, Rowan’s dad, had never seen a horse voluntarily make this submission gesture to a human being before. Clearly something was passing between the horse and the little boy so Isaacson talked to his neighbor Stafford, who owned Besty, and got the key to his saddle room.

For three years father and son rode every day through the woods and fields of Central Texas and – first through Betsy, then spontaneously, Rowan began to talk, to engage with his environment and other people. In 2007 Rowan, his dad, and mother – Kristin Neff, a psychology professor at the University of Texas – took a journey across Mongolia on horseback, going from traditional healer to traditional healer, shaman to shaman, looking for healing. They went out with a child still tantrumming, still un-toilet trained, and cut off from other children. They came back with a child no longer tantruming, toilet trained and able to make friends. Rupert wrote a book about his family’s adventure, and also produced a film which documented the trip. Both are titled ‘The Horse Boy’

After returning from Mongolia, the Isaacson family started the Horse Boy Foundation to help make horses and nature available to other children, autistic or not, who might not otherwise have access to them. Over approximately seven years of working with autistic children and horses Rupert stumbled upon a number of techniques that seemed to bring about better verbal communication with his son. Soon after Rowan’s success Rupert began working with other local children on the spectrum to see if what had worked with Rowan and Betsy would also work for them. After a couple more years Rupert realized that he had a system of techniques in place that targeted different types of autism spectrum challenges. Since 2009 he has been working internationally with the Horse Boy Method™ at camps and centers in North America and Europe.

Continue reading “'The Horse Boy Story & Method' by Jenny Lockwood”

Teaching Children With Autism – Know Your Options by Craig Kendall

The following is a helpful article by Craig Kendall which offers you some different options that are available for teaching children with autism.  I find that having small classes of 3 or 4 children with a 1:1 or 1:2 student to teacher ratio works bestAlso working in a small classroom which feels cozy works better than a large space where they have a tendency to wander.  My teaching Annex is only 300 square feet which may feel small to you but not for the children.  It looks and feels like a manger.   It is clutter free, clean and comfortable with lots of sunlight.  It is important to give some attention to the environment.   This may be obvious you may think but I have seen some teaching spaces that have no sunlight, they smell bad and are dirty.  No one can teach or learn in an environment that pulls you down.  Everyone will be able to think better in a clean, quiet, clutter free space.

Caroline

Teaching children with autism can be very challenging, but very rewarding. It definitely takes a different skill set to teach children with autism, and a supportive school system to do it well. While many public schools have excellent special education schools, many do not. This is why there are also many great private schools that exist to fill the needs of autistic children in search of a personalized education.

Traditional Classrooms May Not be the Best Way to Teach a Child with Autism

A lot of kids with special needs, including autism, have real problems succeeding in a traditional classroom. Very often, they will need one-on-one instruction to be able to learn. Kids with autism often are distracted by sensory issues and many other things in a traditional classroom. Frequently, they are the target of bullying, which can create self-esteem issues and, of course, greatly affect the child’s concentration and learning.

Individualized Education Programs for Kids with Autism

Many autistic kids require individualized learning programs that public schools often are not able to give. Parents usually try to make public schools work for their kids before looking somewhere else, but sometimes there is no choice. Hence, the rising number of private special education schools for kids with autism.

These schools make teaching children with autism into a whole different kind of journey. They have different theories, smaller classes, and more individualized programs. There is usually a 1:1 or 1:2 student to teacher ratio. There are several kinds of special education schools, from day schools and boarding schools, autism only schools and schools that accept kids with a wide range of disabilities.

Choose a Teaching Style that Fits Your Child with Autism

Teachers in some schools will analyze a child’s learning style, behaviors, strengths and weaknesses to create a teaching style that works well with that child. Other schools have a more one-size-fits-all approach, using theories of behaviorism or applied behavior analysis (ABA) for all kids, without much variation in manner in which they are used.

Specialized Autism Schools

Specialized autism schools usually include the various therapies that they offer in the price and curriculum. Such therapies can include speech, occupational and physical therapies. These therapies, as well as the individualized attention for the kids come with a hefty price tag, however. Schools can often be up to $50-$75,000 a year. However, parents can sometimes get special schools paid by their local school districts as long as they can prove that their local school is not able to meet their child’s needs.

To find these schools, you may want to do an Internet search for them, or ask your local autism society. Most of the time, public schools do an excellent job teaching children with autism but it is important also to know of the other options that are out there.

Parents can often learn which schools are good and which are not from other parents. Let’s face it, information from other parents can help in all areas of raising your child with autism. And a great site that has tips and suggestions for helping to raise your autistic child is the AmericanAutismSociety.org. There you can sign up for their FREE newsletter with tips and info on autism.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Craig_Kendall

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