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Starting the Prep day

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​​​​​​​The routine

Possible issues

  • difficulties following the routine​
  • difficulties following a list
  • resisting starting and or finishing tasks such as unpacking a bag.

Possible reasons for issues developing

  • executive functioning difficulties: knowing where to start, how to prioritise, what is next
  • flexible thinking challenges: changing activities equals uncertainty, staying on the one task means predictability and being in control
  • communication breakdown: did not comprehend verbal instructions, list is too complex or not accessible as too much information on it.

Suggested strategies and tips

  • provide a visual sequence of steps: ensure it is near the student e.g. attached to bag or in bag area; present one job at a time if list is too long or too complex
  • use a visual reward system to teach and reward transitioning between tasks; reward each step as completed
  • provide warning of upcoming next activity so student starts to be prepared to change activities/jobs
  • use a 'finished box' for student to pack items into when needing to finish if this is an issue or cause of stress
  • trial a large sand timer as a prompt of when an activity or job will finish; student may turn timer
  • use preferred items or interests to motivate student: image on list; access after completion; include in activities
  • limit transitions (changing activities, environments, support staff) initially while developing smooth routines
  • teach skills to request assistance.

More information regarding the development of routines and structure may be found in the Learning environment​ section of this website.​

Sensory issues

Possible issues

  • fear of peers
  • noise of equipment (fans, bell, doors)
  • touch (bumping and firm touch, textures)
  • visually overwhelming (movement, colour, displays, lighting)
  • smells
  • fear of group.

Possible reasons for issues developing

Sensory processing differences:

  • bumps feeling like punches
  • the overwhelming smell of others, their lunches, shoes etc
  • noise within a small area
  • displays which maybe visually confusing
  • communication: may not be able to express what is wrong or to ask for a break or help
  • difficulties predicting the likely sensory, social, and communicative demands of tasks so avoids them.

Suggested strategies and tips

  • manage (limit) group size whenever possible such as allowing student to unpack bag after others have left bag area or have activity completed by smaller groups of students; this limits social and sensory demands
  • limit sensory input (movements, noise and busy displays) as much as possible by staggering transitions and other movements
  • teach skills to request assistance and a break
  • provide break opportunities to allow student to calm before next group task (e.g. some time in quiet area)
  • provide sensory supports as appropriate (headphones, fidget toys, chair to sit on, something to chew)

Tips for understanding and addressing sensory processing dif​ficulties for students with ASD​

Managing belongings

Possible issues

  • unpacking bag
  • difficulties separating from preferred items
  • difficulties organising belongings.

Possible reasons for issues developing

  • executive functioning difficulties knowing where to start; how to prioritise; what is next
  • difficulties processing routine
  • flexible thinking; wanting all belongings together.

Suggested strategies and tips

  • provide visual cu​es(list, schedule, next activity prompt)
  • routine​ is clear, simple and predictable
  • use routine cues such as specific songs (unpacking song, waiting song) or a bell or timer to indicate task to be completed
  • have two bags: one for extras (spare clothes, swimming gear etc that does not need to be unpacked), another for lunch box, drink, book, hat etc)
  • give student a box near a desk in which to place preferred items; progressively (over the term) move towards the bag area
  • use desk or table map to indicate where pencil rests, 'o' to indicate where to put drink bottle etc
  • use a video model of desired behaviour to show how to complete routine of unpacking bag.​

Attending to task

Possible issues

  • highly dependent upon adult support
  • difficulties staying on task
  • passive in response to demands of task.

Possible reasons for issues developing

  • difficulties predicting what will happen next
  • not motivated by same activities as other students
  • not engaged (happy for adult to take control)
  • difficulties completing task
  • distracted by sensory input
  • cognitive difficulties or immaturity
  • overwhelmed by demands
  • over stimulated by sensory input.

Suggested strategies and tips

  • use visual or natural cues in preference to verbal instructions to encourage independence; show student carpet square as prompt to go to mat /circle time
  • plan to fade verbal prompts
  • use a visual list; student can move completed tasks to finished box or completed side of list once done
  • ensure m​otivating tasks​​ ​are on the schedule or list to engage the student and motivate them to complete these independently e.g. communication book on desk then choose fidget toy to hold in mat time​
  • limit number and complexity of tasks initially while developing independence
  • teach necessary skills to develop independence such as unzipping bag
  • teach skills to request assistance
  • safe place​ for the student to go to if stressed or overwhelmed (e.g. classroom reading area, back of room, away from larger group).

Tips for supporting students to attend​ and listen in the classroom​.

Challenging behaviours

Possible issues

  • hurting others
  • damaging property
  • outburst or loss of control.

Possible reasons for issues developing

  • anxiety relating to the day and the routine
  • difficulty processing transition (change)
  • difficulties regulating arousal levels: becoming overwhelmed and or overstimulated
  • communication difficulties: not able to say what is wrong/ask for help
  • needing to feel in control;
  • difficulty communicating the need for some time alone/a break.

Suggested strategies and tips

  • use calm simple language; avoid discussions which may escalate or cause more stress
  • use visual strategies to support comprehension for example a story-based intervention to teach alternative behaviour: timetable - first ___, then ____ visual (visually plan when preferred activities will happen)
  • initially reduce the social aspect of tasks as much as possible e.g. follow list, not listen to adult; work alone, not with group
  • provide preferred object or motivating calm task to settle student in room
  • pre-warn of changes: allow student to be involved such as placing 'not' symbol on activity and finding alternate activity symbol
  • consider planning to have extra staff available initially to support the development of a new routine
  • provide regular break activities ​to allow the student to return arousal level to calmer state when first becoming overwhelmed or over stimulated
  • consider starting tasks at a different time to others to limit social and sensory demands
  • provide heavy work task such as carrying books for teacher to provide calming sensory feedback and alternative behaviour for the body
  • plan for success: limit demands to develop successful routine and progressively increase demands over term.

More information regarding safety​ and positive b​ehaviour support​ may be found in the learning enviro​nment section​ of this resource.​

Social expectations

Possible issues

  • greeting peers
  • greeting staff
  • personal space.

Possible reasons for issues developing

  • may have limited awareness of social expectations and the 'unwritten rules' of interactions
  • may not be motivated to please others or interact within the large group
  • may have limited awareness of peers
  • may want interactions with peers but is unsure of how to initiate or respond to peers
  • concerns regarding the sensory demands of interacting (noisy, smelly, busy, unpredictable)
  • may seek movement and touch when aroused and be unaware of personal space rules.

Suggested strategies and tips

  • add greetings to the student's schedule or list of jobs so it becomes part of the routine; explicitly teach how to greet peers and staff
  • teach rules regarding personal space: one arm's length apart; touch gently as necessary
  • teach alternate actions: high five instead of hugging
  • peers​ as models and supports to prompt greetings
  • use a short video model of how to greet peers to teach student what to do each morning
  • provide an alternate way of greeting others such as a wave, high five, a voice output application for a tablet or swapping a card containing a greeting to limit demands and ensure success initially
  • allow the student to move photos of 'who is here today' to the board, match photos or names and other ways of marking the role to develop awareness of peers.

Further information

The below information is to help parents get ready for Prep each day.

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Last updated 18 September 2020