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by Sue White
Traumatic Brain Injury is:
TBI is any injury to the brain caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or a penetrating injury that disrupts the normal functioning of the brain. Some causes of TBI may include falls, sports injuries, car accidents, collisions with objects or other people, and being shaken.
Symptoms of TBI may include:
- Feeling dazed or “in a fog”
- Feeling disoriented
- Feeling confused
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty processing information
- Memory problems
- Problems learning and retaining new information
- Difficulty completing multiple tasks
- Feeling irritable, angry, anxious, depressed
- Difficulty with social interactions
- Withdrawing socially
- Feeling less motivated
- Physical symptoms, such as dizziness, weakness, headaches, changes in vision and/or hearing, fatigue, sleep disturbances, and difficulty with balance
By Carolyn Jenkins
When we think about sensory supports, most of us think about students on the Autism Spectrum. However, more and more teachers are realizing the impact that sensory needs can have on ALL students in the classroom. We know that our students who have Autism or Sensory Processing Disorder require sensory support, but think also about those students who are kinesthetic learners, or those who benefit from support with regulating their bodies, emotional, or behavioral responses. Many students can benefit greatly from access to sensory tools in any classroom.
Some types of sensory input can be calming for kids. It can help them regulate their internal discomfort, whether that discomfort is restlessness or some other type of agitation. To support calming, try:
- Deep pressure or weight
- Proprioceptive input such as jumping jacks or lifting/carrying heavy objects, such as a box of books (consider assigning students a “job” to meet this sensory need)
- Breathing or meditation
- Tents or boxes for students to use to block out sensory input for a short period
by Carolyn Jenkins
I am always excited to learn about new ways to increase Autism awareness, understanding, and acceptance. This blog post on The Mighty (themighty.com) not only has great information, but is an enjoyable read:
The author, Adrianna White, is herself on the spectrum. She shares some insight into her own experiences as a person on the spectrum, and also introduces us to Carly Fleischmann.
If you haven’t heard of Carly yet, you can learn more about her here: Carly Fleischmann. Carly is a young woman who was diagnosed with autism as a young child. She is non-verbal, but has learned to communicate through typing. Her powerful descriptions of her experiences can help educators better understand our students’ experiences.
**Please note** The above article does not use person first language. While Bethel continues to use person first language, there is conversation among some people with autism that they prefer to be known as “autistics” or as “autistic.” They feel that being autistic is part of who they are, and that it is impossible to pull apart their autism and their personhood.
And be sure to click on the link in the article that will take you to the official website of Autistic History Month!
Research is clear that students who have self-regulation skills are more successful in school and in life after school. We want to share information about three programs that have helped students gain skills.
Please review this information and if you would like to learn more about these three programs, tell us in the comments!!
Zones of Regulation
This is geared toward helping students gain skills in consciously regulating their actions, which in turn leads to increased control and problem solving abilities. Using a cognitive behavior approach, the curriculum’s learning activities are designed to help students recognize when they are in different states called “zones,” with each of four zones represented by a different color.
In the activities, students also learn how to use strategies or tools to stay in a zone or move from one to another. Students explore calming techniques, cognitive strategies, and sensory supports so they will have a toolbox of methods to use to move between zones. To deepen students’ understanding of how to self-regulate, the lessons set out to teach students these skills: how to read others’ facial expressions and recognize a broader range of emotions, perspective about how others see and react to their behavior, insight into events that trigger their less regulated states, and when and how to use tools and problem solving skills.
Whole Class: Introduce the Zones to the whole class. You could do a team project with students and have each person design what one of the zones looks like on a face. These can be put up in the classroom for reference and to teach others that come into the classroom. Continue reading
By Carolyn Jenkins
As we continue to focus on students’ Social Emotional Learning, it’s important to think specially about our students on the Autism Spectrum. Social expectations can be tricky and overwhelming for some of our students. Some may appear that they don’t care much about the social expectations, while in reality, they need the skills explicitly taught and reinforced.
One strategy to help students who are on the Spectrum – and even those who are not – get the most out of their class time is to teach the idea of following the Group Plan.
Understanding that there is a Group Plan helps students recognize that they are part of a group, and that this requires something different than following one’s OWN plan. While most students catch on to this expectation without much explicit teaching, some students on the Spectrum (along with some others) might not. It’s critical that we teach them what the expectations are.
1. Whole Body Listening: It’s important for students to recognize that having their body in or near the group communicates being part of the group. Some students may need this expectation to be modified by allowing little or no eye contact (some students find eye contact to be too overwhelming and it interferes with their learning), by sitting to the side of the group if groups are overwhelming, or by allowing some sensory support (fidgets, lap pads, wiggle cushions, etc) during group listening times.
2. Using our eyes to figure out the plan: Some students need to be taught to look around the room and at other students to figure out the expectations for a particular situation or moment.
3. I have the plan, you follow the plan: Social hierarchies are really just a creation of our society. There is nothing intrinsic that makes one person in charge of another. As such, understanding social hierarchies – and your place in them – may need to be taught to students who are learning social thinking strategies. Visual representations of who is in charge of whom can help students to recognize that at school they really are mostly plan followers.
4. Give choices when appropriate: It can feel hard and frustrating to not be in charge of anything all day. Giving students choices within the group plan is a way to help them feel like they have some control over their day.
For more information about The Group Plan, as well as other Social Skills strategies, check out the link to We Thinkers! Social skills curriculum.
For more information about one of the authors, Michelle Garcia Winner, who has lots of great resources for teaching Social Skills, click on Michelle Garcia Winner at Social Thinking.
I would love to help you think about how this might work in your classroom. Let me know if I can help!
*Visuals created by: Say It SLP on Teacherspayteachers.com