Here are some of the most common outreach scenarios and some ideas/strategies to try. Remember there are no magic wands any intervention takes time and patience to implement and take effect.
Child A can get very upset at snack and lunchtimes. He/she will not sit at the snack table and will often scream and even bite if made to. At lunchtime he/she will run away if staff try to take him/her to the dining room and can again scream and /or make gagging noised which upsets the other children. He/she brings a packed lunched as he/she will only eat certain things. Behaviour before and after lunch is starting to suffer.
Children with ASD often have limited palates and will have a limited range of foods they will eat. These are sometimes referred to as bland or beige foods.This could be sensory - the smell, look, feel of the food or because they are reluctant to try new things.
Child A could be distressed by the sights, sounds, smells of the dining room which could be causing sensory overload.
Is there a safe space where he/she can eat their lunch?
I would guess Child A is not the only child who does not enjoy eating in the dining room and would be better in a smaller, quieter space. It could be part of the whole school inclusion policy to offer an alternative space for students who need it.
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Child D will not engage with his/her peers. He/she will snatch toys off other children and even hit and push. The other children are a little scared of her/him and parents are starting to complain.
Child B will need support to understand that he/she needs to share toys. He/she will need calm and consistent guidance with the support of visuals to help him/her understand how to share. Social stories about sharing can also be used to support understanding. Reward child B when he/she shares .
This child might not understand that hitting others hurts them and /or makes them upset wo will need to be taught this. Social stories and visuals can be used to support learning.
Parents will naturally be concerned about their children but reassurance that strategies are being employed that will support the child to improve behaviour will hopefully suffice.
Child C has a meltdown whenever outside play is over. He runs away forcing staff to chase after him/her. By the time we get him/her inside, he/she won't engage in any learning throws equipment and is impossible to deal with.
Child C might particularly enjoy outdoor play and /or have difficulty with transitioning. Understanding the reason(s) for the behaviour(s) always helps. A behaviour log or diary can be a useful tool to track behaviour(s). This can be used to work out the trigger for behaviour(s) if the child is not able to articulate this which is often the case. Using visual cues to aid transition are often useful so a timer or a visual for finished or a picture of the room to be transitioned to can be helpful.
Introducing a small incentive/reward to encourage the desired behaviour might also help.
Staff need to stay calm and patient and not chase the child around the playground. All children need to be calm to be able to access learning so the behaviour described on re entering the classroom is not surprising. Making a calm transition from playground to classroom will make a big difference and could be supported with the use of a visual timetable and a NOW and NEXT board , working towards board as well as the other visuals suggested.
Child D is generally happy to complete individual work and usually works hard. However, when he/she is asked to take part in group work he/she is like a different child.If he/she can be persuaded to join a group she will not interact in any way, not even listen to their ideas. He/she will sit and complete the work as if it was an individual task if challenged he/she will walk out of the room and it can take a long time to coax him/her back in.
Children with ASD can find social interaction challenging for numerous reasons and it is important to be understanding.Control and structure can be very important to children on the spectrum and group work requires relinquishing control of work to others. It can also be overwhelming working in a group and having lots of other children so close with different sounds, smells and sights. Child D sounds quite academically able so it would be useful if a trusted adult could chat about the importance of group work in a non threatening environment when he/she is feeling calm and happy. They then make an agreed plan to support the development of group work skills and enable him/her to take part.
E.G. The first taste of group might be one other trusted child for an agreed period of time, building up at an agreed pace to more students and longer periods of time.
Always give notice of group work using visuals and share the groups in advance. Share the task in advance and choose groups carefully. Ensure all students are aware of the barriers facing their class mates.
Incentives to follow the plan can be implemented and incorporated in the plan and /or with the help of a working for board.
If the issues are sensory - too noisy for example then ear defenders might help and the gradual addition of carefully chosen children will also support.