Conference Day 2

25 03 2007

Following are again some fairly unorganized reflections on Day Two.

Simplified definition of Autism: impairments in social interaction, impairment in communication, and restrictive repetivie and stereoyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities.

Pause Procedure – 12-18 minutes attention span=need to “turn and talk” at least that often (more for younger learners) to ensure comprehension. 

Change in placement, standards, goals, adaptations, supports, and instruction, should all be considerations when talking about least restrictive environment.

Honor first where people are already at (things they do well, things they , then help them build skills in other areas.  Like building off of their strengths instead of exploiting weaknesses.

Echolalia – used for many purposes: buying time, form of communication – could be seen as a very involved form of communication.

Inclusive schooling as an action
Right now, placement is supposedly based on a clinical judgment of the student’s performance, behavior, ability, etc.  This is a myth however: consider a student who is tested in Wisconsin and gets some placement.  Would that student get the exact same test results and placement if he or she moved to another state – or even another district?  Highly unlikely. 

Literacy – kids, especially those on the spectrum, get better at comprehension when they see their peers and the teacher make their own understandings of the text or pictures.  Comprehension requires background knowledge so that there is a context to place that new knowledge into. 

Some kids are able to understand communication better if that communication better if it is indirect.  Sometimes the means that information is presented is too “in your face” that the listener loses the entire message.
Methods for communicating indirectly: microphone, puppet, use accent, writing, singing/rhythmic language.

Overall – day 2 offered a look at the ideas behind inclusive instruction.  Not so much as a “place,” but as a spectrum of services.  For me, it was a reiteration of concepts I’ve been hearing and working to employ for my students.  Day 2 gave me an opportunity to really reflect on where my students are at: are they in the least restrictive environment?  Could they perform as well in the regular education classroom given some supports?  Before the end of this school year, I hope to apply this way of thinking to my IEP placements.  I want to ensure that all of my students are in the best learning environment.  I think it is worth the extra time and effort to find strategies to help them succeed there instead of “pulling them out” to be in the resource room just because that has always been the first response.

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