School daze: what Ben needs

Elisa Gagnon


Ben, a fifth grader with an autism spectrum disorder, is experiencing a great deal of anxiety as the time for middle school draws near. As part of his transition process he worked with his resource teacher to create a Power Point presentation addressing what he needs to be successful. The information was subsequently shared with the middle school team. Preparing this presentation proved to be a successful intervention to assure Ben that his new teachers will be aware of what he needs.

Here’s the Power Point developed by Ben.

This is embarrassing or “lame” …
• It’s important that I trust the people around me.
• It’s easier if a friend tells me not to do something or gives me a compliment.
• I really don’t like adults watching or hovering over me, but when I see them it helps me remember what I’m supposed to do. Like in P.E.
• Sometimes I don’t want to do what everyone else is doing.

What I need in class …
• When you talk really fast, I’m not able to write it down.
• I need to see a copy of notes or the overhead.
• A teacher who is flexible, because I’m not.
• Being able to demonstrate I know how to do something and then not have to do the whole assignment.
• A teacher who won’t mind my pacing around the room, but doesn’t let me get lost in it.
• Someone who will help me accept the fact that I may give wrong answers. I hate to admit I’m wrong.
• Someone who will be patient because I don’t like taking risks.

Ways to help me …
• Have a calculator handy.
• Have a copy of the math formulas.
• Let me listen to books on tape.
• Provide me access to a computer when taking tests.
• Don’t give me lots of work at one time
• Give me “think” time.
• Give me choices but not too many!!
• Let me sit next to or near someone I’m comfortable with. For example, I need someone who will say, “page 74, Ben.”
• Let me know about changes in my schedule ahead of time.

Did you know …
• I don’t need to be warned about a fire drill. As a matter of fact, I handle a fire drill better if I’m not warned.
• I can even be around loud noises!
• If you don’t think I can, then I probably can’t.
• I can be sneaky and tricky.
• I love to make up “knock knock” jokes even when they’re not funny.

Ways to help me be more organized …
• Let me keep my books in the resource room.
• I might need extra copies of my books at home.
• I need help keeping track of my papers.
• I need to turn things in as soon as I get them done.
• I need reminders about due dates.
• “Hurry up” — what does that mean?
• Have due dates put on my assignments.
• Help me decide what I should do first.
• Don’t give me too much homework.
• I have a loud voice. You can’t stop me from talking, but sometimes I actually do talk with the right volume.

More stuff …
• Compliments embarrass me.
• I use erasable pens.
• I color with erasable colored pencils.
• I get stuck on some things and it takes a while for me to move on — sometimes days.
• I like to be right.
• I usually am right.
• I like doing what everyone else is doing.

Things you should know …
• I like Little Debbie Honeybuns — ONLY this brand.
• I like to read out loud in class.
• Sometimes I need to have movies going on in my head. That’s how I relieve stress & sometimes it’s hard to turn the movie off.
• I have a funny sense of humor.
• I know that I have autism and that makes some things different for me.
• When I say threatening things or get in your face or say, “I’m going to give you a taste of your own medicine,” I’m just feeling mad and can’t find my words but I wouldn’t hurt you.
• I love Star Wars.
• It helps me when you and I draw out what has happened or write out back and forth. Mrs. Williams has a journal for this.
• I holler over and over but that is just my way of saying, “You’re right.”

Elisa Gagnon has over 15 years’ experience working with children and youth with autism and Asperger Syndrome in the public schools, Elisa is the author of This Is Asperger Syndrome Syndrome (with Brenda Myles) and Power Cards: Using Special Interests to Motivate Children and Youth with Asperger Syndrome and Autism

Courtesy of AAPC


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