Helping Students With Autism Navigate a Socially Distanced Classroom
While many educators and students are returning to the familiar classrooms left abruptly in March, teaching this upcoming year will be anything but business as usual. Aimee Dearmon, Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP) and Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), says the disruption of routines, schedules, classroom layouts, and necessary social distancing protocols will be very difficult for our most vulnerable students with autism and other developmental disabilities.
Even under the best circumstances, these populations struggle to adjust to changes, and now the struggle will be exacerbated due to COVID-19 safety protocols. Dearmon emphasizes that schools and educators need to develop safe and healthy classroom action plans for students with autism and other disabilities that include environmental arrangement, classroom organization, rotations, hygiene, and material sharing.
The biggest challenge with developing classroom action plans is establishing the same level of support to these students while maintaining social distancing. Educators need to craft strategies and processes that meet health guidelines and ensure that students understand and adapt to new routines and behavioral expectations.
Dearmon recommends social scripts, video modeling, visual supports, and prompts. Using these ABA reinforcement tools, students with autism and other developmental disabilities can learn simple distancing protocols such as how to wear a mask, walk in the hallway, and remain apart from others in the school setting. Learning new routines establishes a level of comfort for these students to understand and allows them to predict how, what, where, and when learning will happen.
When educators utilize the tools, there is a significant reduction in student anxiety and stress, resulting in new habit formation. It is essential to remember to give students cues one time to provide a direction one time and then provide the students with a little bit of wait time.
Excerpted from “Helping Students With Autism Navigate a Socially Distanced Classroom” in eSchool News. Read the full article.
Source: eSchool News | Helping Students With Autism Navigate a Socially Distanced Classroom, https://www.eschoolnews.com/2020/09/28/students-with-autism-socially-distanced | Copyright 2020 eSchoolMedia & eSchool News
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