AARC Tip of the Month | October 2020 | View as Webpage
Navigating distance learning, adapting to virtual classrooms, and accepting changes in social routines are difficult challenges for all students this Fall but can be especially problematic for our learners with autism. As a caregiver of a child with autism, you play a very important role in helping your child to understand changes and adapt to classes online. As you help your child through a distance learning platform, consider incorporating these tips to help you best support learning from home and hybrid learning models during the pandemic.
Establish a Distance Learning Routine:
  • Create a daily routine for your child based around the times of day dedicated to distance learning. Promote a balance of activities including work time, choice break time, and sensory time. 
  • Old or new negative behaviors may occur. It is important to provide as much structure as possible.
  • Create a visual schedule of your child’s learning routine to help them predict the sequence of activities in their day and support transition between routines
Distance Physically, Not Socially:
  • Help your child remain socially close to teachers, peers, and family members by scheduling regularly occurring virtual playdates or chats
  • Maintain social skill goals or interventions for your child by scheduling chat times or times to play with online games with classmates via Zoom 
  • Attend virtual social events in your community or through other online platforms. For virtual classes and events in Anchorage, visit The Arc of Anchorage website for more information on upcoming events.
Set Reasonable Goals:
  • Ask your child’s education team to help you embed learning opportunities into everyday routines and experiences. 
  • Set up meetings to discuss your child’s IEP and 504 plan as well as distance learning accommodations. 
  • Discuss reducing your child’s workload and maximizing their time in one-on-one instruction.
Supporting You and Your Child's Well Being:
  • Provide frequent movement breaks in between learning sessions. Enjoy these moments outside! 
  • Help your child to stay regulated! By accommodating their sensory needs, you can help to prevent negative behaviors due to lack of sensory input. Work with your child’s teacher to create a designated sensory tool box that is accessible at scheduled sensory times throughout the day. This can be utilized in the student’s learning or calm space (i.e. their bedroom, couch in the family room) in the home. 
  • Ask for help! When in doubt, reach out to your child’s education team. We are all in this together!
Access the AARC for Additional Support:
For more training on embedding learning opportunities into everyday routines, attend the AARC’s 4th Annual Distance Online Autism Conference titled “On the Spot! Capturing Learning Opportunities Throughout the Day”. Save the date for Monday, November 9th- Wednesday, November 11th ! Select the banner for more information.
Check out our Events Calendar to stay up to date on future learning opportunities!
Books of the Month
These titles cover setting up learning environments in classrooms, and the ideas can be applied to home learning as well.
The resources of the month are available in the Special Education Service Agency (SESA) Library. Search for items on the SESA website, or contact the librarian, Anne Freitag, at afreitag@sesa.org or 907-334-1301

Electronic books may be accessed from anywhere in the state. If you've used our ebooks before, go to the login page here. If you haven't, please contact Anne so she can set up a username and password for you. Learn more about ebooks here.

A note about the SESA Library and COVID-19:
The SESA Library is working on a plan to start loaning materials while following the guidelines for sheltering and the recommendations for safe handling. In the meantime, all Alaskans can access SLED. SLED is an amazing resource! It has databases for research, homework help, educational materials for all levels, practical helps (small engine repair, for example), and fun resources (arts and craft ideas).

Here is the website: https://lam.alaska.gov/sled

You can call this number to get the login and password: 1-800-440-2919, or you can contact Anne for assistance at afreitag@sesa.org.
Building Sensory Friendly Classrooms to Support Problem Behaviors
By: Rebecca Moyes
Sensory World, 2010. ISBN: 9781935567233
Description: Rebecca Moyes, a teacher, author, renowned lecturer, and mother of a child with Asperger’s Syndrome, helps walk any regular education or special education teacher through the process of setting up a sensory‑friendly classroom in this easy to use book. This is currently the only book that discusses the importance of data‑driven strategies, and then helps teachers implement them! Sensory integration disorder often presents as a behavioral problem; thus, although it’s an internal state, it has to be addressed based on what observable behaviors are seen in the child. Rebecca is able to take the data and work out how to make any student’s, (and teacher’s!), life easier. -Publisher
Caring Spaces, Learning Places: Children's Environments that Work
By: Jim Greenman
Exchange Press, 2005. ISBN: 9780942702330
Description:Children deserve to spend their days in well-designed environments that support their needs and stimulate their learning. Adults who spend their days teaching and caring for young children deserve environments that maximize their skills. ... a book of ideas, observations, problems, solutions, examples, resources, photographs, and poetry. Here you will find the best of current thinking about children's environments - 360 pages to challenge you, stimulate you, inspire you. This is your book - directors, teachers, parents, trainers, faculty and consultants. -Publisher
How to Set Up a Classroom for Students with Autism (a manual)
By: S.B. Linton
AutismClassroom.com, 2007 ISBN: 9781442175914
Description: "... a manual for teachers, paraprofessionals, related service providers and administrators new to working with students with autism or for professionals who would like to enhance their current autism classroom set-up. The manual is easy to read and is full of great ideas for setting up your autism classroom. With items such as detailed instructions about classroom set up, ideas for collaborating with others, data collection ideas and behavior intervention plans, this manual is sure to be a major support for any professional working in a classroom for students with autism!" -Publisher
Setting up Classroom Spaces That Support Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders
By: Susan Kabot and Christine Reeve; foreward by L. Juane Heflin
AAPC Publishing, 2010. ISBN: 9781934575680
Description: With even the best curricula and interventions, students with autism spectrum disorders will not learn unless the classroom environment is organized with their specific needs in mind. Setting up Classroom Spaces That Support Students With Autism Spectrum Disorders shows through clear and brief text and lots of photos how to determine what type of furniture and materials to choose for various types of classrooms and how to arrange them in a way that creates an effective learning environment while reducing anxiety and preventing problem behaviors. Setting Up Classroom Spaces that Support Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders uses evidence-based practices of structure and visual supports to enhance the well-being and success of students. Examples are given for students across the age span with lots of lists and helpful resources, making it a must-have resource for every classroom. -Publisher
These books on homeschooling have ideas that could be used to adapt home learning environments.
Teaching at Home: A New Approach to Tutoring Children with Autism and Asperger Syndrome
By: Olga Holland
Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2005. ISBN: 9781843107873
Description: This book offers inspiration and encouragement for parents of children with Autism or Asperger syndrome who are considering home schooling their children, and also provides useful pointers for teachers and carers.'- Link: Autism Europe'In this resource for parents, Holland describes an approach to teaching children with autism and Asperger syndrome that she developed with her own son, Billy (who now participates in a gifted and talented program). She offers practical advice on such issues as understanding body language, adapting the teaching environment, devising homework schedules, and coping with distractions.'- Book NewsFaced with the apparent inability of her autistic son Billy to learn and socialize with other children at school, Olga Holland decided to teach him at home.Where traditional educational approaches had produced limited results, the author's own method of teaching succeeded, over a period of two years, in enabling Billy to pass the test that allowed him to enter a class for gifted children.Teaching at Home explains the author's approach, focused on adapting to the demands of Billy's atypical mind and respecting his vivid imaginative world while attracting and retaining his attention. The author describes her use of sensory and memory techniques, social stories and humour, and gives useful advice on issues such as understanding body language, adapting the teaching environment, devising homework schedules and coping with distractions.This book offers inspiration and encouragement for parents of children with autism or Asperger Syndrome who are considering homeschooling their children, and also provides useful pointers for teachers and carers. -Publisher
Choosing Home: Deciding to Homeschool with Asperger's Syndrome
By: Martha Kennedy Hartnett; foreword by Stephen Shore
Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2004 ISBN: 9781843107637
Description: Martha Kennedy Hartnett is the mother of a child with Asperger's Syndrome who made the courageous choice to homeschool. Emerging from the author's personal experience, this book is a step by step account of successful home education.Choosing Home will take you into the homes of Asperger families as they journey from survival of the playground bully to making it work at home. Hartnett embraces those pertinent questions raised by parents: Will I be limiting my child's emotional and social development? How will I know if my teaching is good enough? What if I can't cope? These questions and many more are answered in this touching and insightful narrative.This is a book of hope and encouragement to all parents with an interest in homeschooling. -Publisher
Home Educating Our Autistic Spectrum Children: Paths are Made by Walking
Edited By: Kitt Cowlishaw and Terri Dowty
Jessica Kingsley Publisher, 2002. ISBN: 9781843100379
Description: Mainstream educational provision for children on the autistic spectrum can be inadequate or inappropriate, and an increasing number of parents dissatisfied with the education system are looking elsewhere for an approach that will suit their children's needs. In this book parents who have chosen the home education option for their children on the autistic spectrum candidly relate their experiences: how they reached the decision to educate at home, how they set about the task, and their feelings about the issues raised by their actions.Alongside these personal accounts, Home Educating Our Autistic Spectrum Children includes a supplementary chapter on getting started with home education, written by a former advisory teacher for special needs, which offers a wealth of helpful tips and answers frequently voiced questions about teaching materials, curricula and socialization. A separate chapter on home education and the law provides solid practical advice on legal rights and relations with the education authority.This sympathetic, readable book aims to give parents whose children are not receiving appropriate support at school the confidence to consider home education as a realistic option. The balance between true stories and practical advice ensures that this invaluable book will inspire and inform. -Publisher
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Alaska Autism Resource Center | 866-301-7372 | aarc@sesa.org |www.AlaskaARC.org