Teaching Adolescents with Autism: Practical Strategies for the Inclusive Classroom


Walter Kaweski

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  • Chapters
  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Part I: Special Education and You

    • Introduction to Special Education
    • The Individual Education Program (IEP)
    • Professional Relationships
    • IEP Members
    • Understanding Inclusive Education
    • Person-First Language
    • Respect and Appreciation
    • Understanding Your Role
    • Duties and Responsibilities
    • Characteristics of Effective Instructional Assistants
    • Instructional Assistant Support in General Education Classes
    • Professional, Ethical, and Legal Responsibilities
    • Resolving Concerns and Conflicts
    • Teacher/Instructional Assistant Role Clarification
    • Rate Your Communication Style
    • Healthy Relationships
    • Confidentiality
    • Guidelines for Confidentiality
    • Ethical Issues: Discussion Activities
    • Ethical Issues: Answers to Questions

    Part II: Supporting Students in General Education Settings

    • Introduction to Adaptations
    • Make Content Understandable
    • Designing Appropriate Adaptations
    • Nine Adaptations
    • Instructional Assistant Quality Support Desired Outcomes 34 Instructional Assistants Supporting Students in General Education Classrooms—Lecture
    • Lunch/Unstructured Time Desired Outcomes
    • Recess
    • Working With Small Groups
    • Teaching Students to Work in Groups
    • Time Management
    • Instructional Sequence
    • Independent Practice
    • Maintain Interest
    • Prompts, Modeling, and Chaining

    Part III: Resource Section

    • First-Week-of-School Questions
    • Instructional Assistant's Work Style
    • Further Reading
    • Conclusion
    • References
  • Copyright

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    Supporting students with disabilities of all kinds to access the core curriculum and take part as full members of school and classroom communities requires information, collaboration, and a shared vision among team members. At the heart of this book is a desire to share from real school experiences—the ups and downs of teaming, providing supports, teaching together, and addressing learning and social challenges with creativity and consistency.

    The author brings his experiences as an inclusion support teacher, and as a parent, to life, through practical and easy-to-follow strategies that he has utilized in his quest to successfully support individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in the general education core curriculum, classrooms, and all aspects of school life. He is primarily speaking to general education teachers; however, parents, paraprofessionals, and other school faculty and staff will also benefit from these easy-to-read chapters and easy-to-follow suggestions. Written in a friendly, yet informative, style, the book brings to life many of the day-to-day experiences that teachers with heterogeneous classrooms, including students with disabilities, will have.

    Chapters 1 and 2 give the reader background information in ASD and the history of inclusive schools. The remaining chapters provide practical strategies for social supports, modifications and adaptations to the core curriculum, classroom organization, instructional strategies, positive behavioral supports, and communication. Each chapter also includes resources for further information.

    Schools are learning communities. This means that teachers have to be lifelong learners if we are to expect our students to be lifelong learners. The author has clearly taken this to heart as he has diligently gone to conferences, read books and journals, and gathered information to be more successful at serving his students. I know this, because he is a graduate from the program I coordinate at California State University, Sacramento. Now, in this book, he has taken time to share with the reader the strategies that he has found to be most successful. I think you will enjoy this book, and, more important, find practical and easy-to-use suggestions.



    This book is born from the experience of raising a son diagnosed with autism and informed through research and 34 years of experience teaching in public schools. In other words, it is written from the heart of a father combined with the expertise of a veteran educator.

    Allow me to share a personal story. Back in 1991, when our 4-year-old son Steven started preschool, we did not know much about developmental disabilities and just assumed Steven was “different.” The differences, we would later learn, were symptoms of autism, but back then, we did not or could not see the signs—not until our next-door neighbor Ken, an Air Force doctor, called out from next door to my wife, Laura, “There's something wrong with Steven! He's not normal!” This unfortunate comment across our conjoined yards served as a wake-up call that led us to a pediatric psychiatrist and the diagnosis of Asperger syndrome. At first, we struggled to understand and accept this label. Our initial sense of concern for our beautiful boy brought tears and heartache.

    Over the years, Laura and I researched autism, attended conferences, and welcomed a parade of therapeutic specialists into our home. The initial feelings of uninformed dread were gradually reshaped by countless positive and joyful experiences with Steven. Our perceptions evolved, replaced with optimism. We learned, as we hope you will learn, that a person is far more than the diagnosis he or she carries.

    One highlight from Steven's early years will illustrate what I mean. We enrolled Steven in Suzuki violin lessons and over the next three years watched him develop into an amazing violinist who performed violin pieces by Bach and Mozart. Some of our proudest moments came while watching Steven perform in front of his classmates at school assemblies. I learned from these early experiences the power of guided practice.

    Steven, as of this writing, just celebrated his 23rd birthday and is a sensitive and caring young man. He graduated from high school, attends college, and is in search of a girlfriend. He is everything a parent wants in a grown son. He is loving, integrity centered, affectionate, and very reliable. When Steven gives you his word, you can be sure he will keep his promise. His future truly looks bright.

    Why this book? Despite research studies that continue to warn of the detrimental effects of uninformed support for students with developmental disabilities, teachers who have little experience with autism are held responsible for supporting students with complex needs in general education settings.

    Traditional methods of instruction may not work for students with autism. Many of these students benefit from informed academic, social, and behavior support. Without support, many will risk failure and rejection.

    Too often, when things go wrong, the student, rather than the support system, is blamed. Considering these consequences, training and support for the general education teacher is urgently needed. The National Research Council (2001) indicates that “personnel preparation remains one of the weakest elements of effective programming for children with autistic spectrum disorder” (p. 225).

    Despite increasing awareness of autism, surprisingly few evidence-based resources exist to help teachers understand and support adolescents with autism in middle and high school general education settings. Most available literature focuses on younger students or is generalized to reach all disability categories. Clearly, this book is a welcome resource that addresses the needs of this large and diverse population of adolescents and young adults.

    About the Book

    Teaching Adolescents With Autism is written for general education teachers, support specialists, administrators, parents, and others interested in learning research-based interventions for adolescents with autism and other developmental disabilities. The reader will gain a thorough understanding of the social, sensory, cognitive, and behavioral challenges students with autism experience. The book is well grounded theoretically, featuring a generous collection of practical strategies designed to help the teacher successfully support a diverse group of students across a variety of settings. The intervention strategies presented will benefit nondisabled students as well.

    We present a book that is organized and visually interesting. Each chapter offers numerous research-based strategies, insights, and resources to support chapter objectives. Important concepts are reinforced with bulleted lists, tables, figures, and photographs. Personal examples support important concepts in a tangible way. Quotes and anecdotes are sprinkled in to impart bits of wisdom and brevity.

    The substance of the book contains an abundance of information that will increase understanding and improve support practices in several overlapping areas of concern. The “how” is supported throughout with the “why.” We believe that every introduced support strategy needs to be tied to the relevance of the practice.

    The teacher will learn how the combination of environmental, psychological, physiological, and social stressors characteristic of middle and high school can impact the student and what can be accomplished to improve conditions for the student. Strategies are introduced that promote a welcoming and comfortable classroom setting with an emphasis placed on meaningful participation, peer support, and friendship development. Emerging research in the field of social development for students with autism continues to stress the importance of nondisabled peer engagement as a critical component in reducing autistic symptoms. The book's emphasis on natural peer support is woven throughout the text.

    An entire chapter is devoted to adaptations. The teacher will learn how to utilize a variety of support strategies to improve access to instructional content across settings and subjects. Specific adaptations are included for every major subject area, as well as general adaptations that apply across all content areas. The author introduces the teacher to the acronym “SPECIAL” translated to reinforce the idea that good adaptations should be Simple, Practical, Explicit, Community building, Independence promoting, Age appropriate, and Logical and meaningful.

    Attitude is everything. The teacher must believe in the capacity of students with autism to achieve … not easy in a society that unfairly characterizes persons with disabilities as tragic or lesser human beings “suffering” from their diagnosis. The book dispels misperceptions about these students by discrediting inaccurate descriptors like “less fortunate,” “needy,” and “challenged” that continue to perpetuate this view. By doing so, unfair stereotypes about the nature of disability are cast aside in favor of increased expectations for the person behind the label.

    Each chapter concludes with a summary followed by suggested readings for further study. The reader is directed to the book's extensive resource section for further information and support. Also, an Instructional Assistant Inclusion Support Guide is available online at http://www.corwin.com/adolescentautism.

    The knowledge base that supports the book's content is extensive. The author draws from current and emerging research in the fields of autism, inclusive education, instructional methodology, learning theory, behavior, communication, and peer intervention strategies.

    The authors, educators, and researchers most frequently cited are leading experts in the field, including Simon Baron-Cohen, Kathy Doering, Mary Beth Doyle, Nancy French, Uta Frith, Kathy Gee, Michael Giangreco, Jean Gonsier-Gerdin, Temple Grandin, Ann Halverson, Norman Kunc, Robert and Lynn Koegel, Philip Strange, Emma Van der Klift, and Brenda Smith Myles.

    The book also includes heartfelt insights based on the author's extensive experience as an autism specialist, inclusion coordinator, and father of a 23-year-old son diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. Featured throughout the book are personal stories of students the author and his staff have supported over the years. These stories add a personal dimension to the values and practices consistently reinforced throughout the book.

    From his dual perspective of educator and father, the author places a high value on the importance of understanding each student as a unique individual beyond the diagnostic label. It is a capacity-based perspective that strives to challenge students with ASD to reach their full potential. These values are reinforced with a generous array of pictures and vignettes that convey powerful messages about each person's potential to grow and develop.


    I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Kathy Gee and Dr. Jean Gonsier-Gerdin, professors of special education at Sacramento State University, for their steadfast support and guidance over the years. Their extraordinary dedication to inclusive education, along with their vast expertise in research-based practices, has served as the guiding force behind my efforts to develop an inclusive program for students with autism spectrum disorders. I am honored to associate with these distinguished experts.

    Thank you, Dr. Kathy Doering, San Francisco State University, for allowing us to include your brilliant “Reflection Tools for Facilitating Positive Student Outcomes, 2010” in the resource section of this book. This set of valuable resources will guide inclusion programs toward best practices. I appreciate your support for this project! Your ideas and explicit vision for inclusion are enormously helpful.

    Thank you, Dr. Mary Beth Doyle, for your encouragement and enthusiastic support for this project. Your suggestions have helped guide the book's development and gave me needed encouragement along the way.

    A special thank-you to Lisa Herstrom-Smith, principal, John Barrett Middle School, for her support and leadership in the development of a full inclusion program. Her consistent advocacy in pursuit of inclusive opportunities for students with disabilities makes a significant difference in our whole-school program growth and development. Public education needs more administrators like Lisa.

    Many thanks to Dayle Cantrall for her support during times of challenge. Dayle provided district-level support that helped improve our support strategies without impeding our efforts. When help was needed, she offered advice and good-natured humor. Thank you, Ted Darrow, for helping us through the initial stages of our program. Your encouragement made challenges easier to overcome. Vice-principal Valerie Lott demonstrated great wisdom on many occasions. Her impressive insight and patience helped countless students during times of crisis.

    There are not enough superlatives to accurately describe the contributions of Speech Pathologist Laura Enos Grover, Autism Specialist Mike Prentiss, and School Counselor Laurie Faniani. They are the “gold standard” in their chosen specialties. Their steadfast devotion to students with disabilities, coupled with their immense expertise, has made a huge difference in the lives of many children in our area.

    Thank you to my instructional assistants, who helped our inclusion program develop and thrive. Thank you, Sarah Delrio, Shelly Russ, Trish Esquer, and Jillian Netzley. In my view, you are among the most devoted professionals in the field.

    I am grateful to my teacher colleagues Anne Anderson, Brenda Danzinger, Anne Billington, Glen Bisquera, Kathryn Blodgett, Cynthia Book, Wendy Carlson, Amy Conti, Jennifer Daniels, Debra Ethington, Brian Gayek, Geoffrey Gill, Vicki Hallberg, John Higgins, Colleen Honegger, Tom Hunt, Tami Irvine, Jean Keller, Beverly Lockhart, Tim Mccandless, Rebecca McEnroe, Angela Nodolf, Jean Osterkamp, Karen Patterson, Jennifer Smiley, Tom Strobel, Terri Thacker, Dave Thompson, Anne Varanelli, Normajean Viramontes, Grace Wahl, and Don Wright, for nurturing all students while helping to build a welcoming inclusive learning community. We worked together to overcome challenges inherent in the development of a viable whole-school inclusion program. Your enthusiasm for new ideas and willingness to take risks opened the doors to valuable experiences and friendship for many students.

    Thank you, Carol Kimpson. You are more than a school nurse and health consultant to our district. You are my wise friend who has the extraordinary ability to keep complicated issues in perspective. I appreciate the times you reminded me to view all issues from the needs of the family and to view obstacles in the best light regardless of how challenging and complicated some issues get.

    Teaching Adolescents With Autism would not have been possible without the guidance and support of the Corwin editorial staff. I would first like to thank acquisition editors Jessica Allan and David Cho for believing in this project and going forward. David provided the initial ideas to improve the manuscript, and Jessica carried the project forward through the peer review process and then presented her findings and recommendations to the Corwin/Sage Publications Editorial Board for acceptance. In essence, Jessica and David made possible all the steps that followed. I would also like to thank Lisa Whitney, the editorial assistant who was especially helpful in managing numerous details related to permissions and photo releases, along with helping answer my questions as the publication process moved forward. My sincere appreciation and gratitude to the production editor, Amy Schroller, and copy editor, Brenda Weight, for their expert assistance in preparing the manuscript for publication. Amy helped me understand the production process and coordinated responsibilities among departments while overseeing the production process as a whole. I am especially grateful to copy editor Brenda Weight. She is a first-rate copyediting professional who attended to the meticulous details that need to be addressed during the manuscript preparation process. Finally, thank you to the Corwin Art Department, and especially Michael Dubowe for his beautiful cover design.

    I wish to express deep love and affection to my sons, Wayne and Steven, and my beautiful daughter-in-law, Eowyn, for expressing support and encouragement along the way.

    Last but not least, a huge thank-you to my wife, Laura, for her enormous help with this project. There is not enough space to list all the good deeds you have provided me along the way! Everything from proofing to typing and, most of all, your immense patience and understanding for the time spent in completing this manuscript is most appreciated. I can't thank you enough, Dear!

    I love you!

    About the Author

    Walt Kaweski, MA, is a teacher, autism specialist, and inclusion coordinator in the San Juan Unified School District of suburban Sacramento, California. With 35 years of experience in public education, he has taught a wide variety of subjects and grade levels, including high school English, intervention reading and math, history, and instrumental music. Mr. Kaweski was awarded the 2007 Teacher of the Year Award by his school district for his work developing a successful inclusion program for students with autism. In partnership with Sacramento State University, Mr. Kaweski trains teacher candidates pursuing the special education credential. He has presented at local, state, and national conferences on topics concerning inclusion support and friendship development for students with autism.

    Mr. Kaweski earned his Master of Arts in Special Education from Sacramento State University. He is a certified Moderate-Severe Special Education Specialist and Cross-cultural, Language and Academic Development Specialist.

    About the Contributor

    Jean Gonsier-Gerdin, PhD, is Associate Professor in the Department of Special Education, Rehabilitation, School Psychology and Deaf Studies at California State University, Sacramento. She received a master's degree in social sciences in education from Stanford University, School of Education, and a doctorate in special education from the University of California, Berkeley, with San Francisco State University. Dr. Gonsier-Gerdin's teaching and research interests include inclusive education practices; instructional strategies for students with autism spectrum disorders; peer supports and social relationships; positive behavioral support; interprofessional collaboration; family support; and special education teacher preparation to promote advocacy, leadership, and systems change.

    About the Illustrator

    Devon Smith is an eighth-grade student formerly enrolled at Barrett Middle School in Carmichael, California. Devon is a remarkable self-taught cartoonist who demonstrated an early talent for drawing. Devon was awarded the “Fine Arts Department Award” for his talents. He is respected throughout his school community for his humor and wit as displayed in his hilarious drawings.


    To my beloved wife, Laura, for the love, encouragement, and thoughtful advice you provided throughout the process of developing this book. You are the best, Dear!

    Special Thanks

    Thank you, Dr. Jean Gonsier-Gerdin, for your incredible insight and advice during the preparation of this manuscript. I will forever be grateful to you for your helpful support during the final weeks prior to the production stage of this book.

  • Appendix 1: Glossary of Frequently Used Terms

    Accommodations: Alterations to the environment, equipment, or format of a curriculum to allow equal access to the content. Unlike modifications, accommodations do not alter the actual content of the material being taught.

    Adaptations: Involve an adjustment to the instructional content or performance expectations of students with disabilities from what is expected or taught to students in general education. Adaptations are usually included as part of a student's IEP. Examples of adaptations include decreasing the number of exercises the student is expected to complete or allowing extra time to complete work.

    Adaptive behavior: “Practical intelligence.” An individual's manner of dealing with the demands of daily life, including self-care skills, organizational skills, basic interpersonal skills, and managing in community settings (obeying rules, taking responsibility, etc.).

    ADHD: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

    Advocate: An individual who is not an attorney, but who assists parents and students in their dealings with school districts regarding the student's special education programs.

    Affective: A term that refers to emotions and attitudes.

    Age appropriate: At the chronological (actual) age of the student. The term can be applied to materials, curriculum, and modifications for the student or to the student's behavior.

    Annual goals: A required component of an IEP. Goals are written for the individual student and can be for a maximum of one year.

    Antecedent: An event that precedes a behavior.

    Attention: The ability to concentrate as needed.

    Auditory processing: How the brain processes and interprets what is heard through the ear.

    Baseline: Beginning observations prior to intervention; level of functioning established or measured without any active intervention from the observer.

    Body language: Information about a person's thoughts or feelings that is unconsciously conveyed through physical mannerisms.

    Central coherence: The brain's ability to process multiple chunks of information in a global way, connecting them and viewing them in context, in order to determine a higher level of meaning. Poor central coherence can make it difficult to generalize.

    Circle of Friends: A technique used to enlist the involvement and commitment of peers in developing and supporting effective inclusion (also called Circle of Support).

    CLOZE procedure: A teaching technique that involves deleting words from the text and leaving blank spaces. Measurement is made by rating the number of blanks that can be correctly filled. The oral CLOZE method is also useful when directing whole-class reading. The teacher reads a passage and periodically leaves one word out. Students chorally respond with the missing word on a predetermined cue (snap of fingers, arm movement, etc.).

    COACH: An assessment and planning tool designed to help educators identify family-centered priorities for their students, define the educational program components, and address these components in an inclusive setting.

    Cognition: Conscious mental activity, including thinking, perceiving, reasoning, and learning.

    Cognitive: A term that refers to reasoning or intellectual capacity.

    Collaboration: Individuals working together for a common goal.

    Community-based instruction (CBI): Skills are taught at varied locations in the community (supermarket, library, mall, restaurant) rather than in the classroom in order to help the student learn independence in the community.

    Conference: Generic term that may refer to a multidisciplinary conference, IEP meeting, annual review, or other type of meeting. When in doubt, it is important to clarify the purpose of any conference.

    Consonant: A basic speech sound that, when combined with a vowel, creates a syllable or whole word.

    Continuum of services: The range of services that must be available to the students of a school district so they may be served in the least restrictive environment.

    Curriculum: The subject matter that is to be learned. A curriculum is usually described in terms of its scope and sequence. For example, a teacher or parent might evaluate the curriculum in a given class to determine if it matches the student's IEP goals.

    Curriculum-based assessment: Measuring a student's progress in the curriculum to determine if the adaptations designed for the student are working or need to be adjusted.

    Deficit: Inadequacy in functioning due to developmental delay.

    Delay: Development that does not occur within expected time ranges.

    Differentiated instruction: Recognizing the student's varying background knowledge, readiness, language, and preferences in learning and interests, and reacting responsively. Differentiated instruction is a process to approach teaching and learning for students of differing abilities in the same class. The intent of differentiating instruction is to maximize each student's growth and individual success by meeting each student where he or she is, and assisting in the learning process.

    Disability: A physical, sensory, cognitive, or affective impairment that causes the student to need special education.

    Due process: In special education, due process refers to a specific set of procedures designed to settle disputes between school districts and parents.

    Echolalia: The immediate or delayed echoing or repetition of complete verbal expressions heard at an earlier time. Possible functions of echolalia include conversation maintenance, communication, self-soothing, and verbal rehearsal. Echolalia can be functional (using the phrase in an appropriate context to aid communication) or nonfunctional (vocalizing without relationship to the context of the situation).

    Empathy: A projection of one's thoughts and feelings into the personality of another in order to understand him better.

    Extended school year: A service for a special education student to receive instruction during ordinary school “vacation” periods.

    Fading: A technique for errorless learning whereby the teacher cues the student with multiple stimuli to make the correct response. Gradually, the number of cues are reduced, or “faded,” until only one stimulus comes to exert control over the responding.

    Fine motor: Muscle functions that require tiny muscle movements. For example, writing or typing would require fine motor movement.

    Free appropriate public education (FAPE): Special education and related services that (1) have been provided at public expense, under public supervision and direction, and without charge; (2) meet the standards of the State educational agency; (3) include an appropriate preschool, elementary school, or secondary school education in the State involved; and (4) are provided in conformity with the individualized education program. (20 U.S.C. §1401)

    Functional behavioral assessment (FBA): A problem-solving process for addressing a student's challenging behavior. FBA relies on a variety of techniques and strategies to identify the purposes of specific behavior and to help IEP teams select interventions to directly address the challenging behavior. It looks beyond the behavior itself, focusing on identifying significant, pupil-specific social, affective, cognitive, and/or environmental factors associated with the occurrence (and nonoccurrence) of specific behaviors.

    Generalization: In concept formation, problem solving, and transfer of training, the detection by the learner of a characteristic or principle common to a class of objects, events, or problems. Also, in conditioning, the principle that once a conditioned response has been established for a given stimulus, other similar stimuli will also evoke that response.

    Gross motor: Muscle functions require large muscle movements. For example, walking or jumping would require gross motor movement.

    Heterogeneous grouping: An educational practice in which students of diverse abilities are placed within the same instructional groups. This practice is usually helpful in the inclusion of students with disabilities.

    Homogeneous grouping: An educational practice in which students of similar abilities are placed within the same instructional groups. This practice usually serves as a barrier to the inclusion of students with disabilities. The practice is helpful, however, for small-group direct instruction where students are all in need of the same intervention strategy.

    IEP meeting: A gathering required at least annually under IDEA in which an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) is developed or revised for a student receiving special education.

    Inclusion: Full inclusion refers to the inclusion of a student with a disability in an age-appropriate regular classroom at the student's neighborhood school. The student moves with peers to subsequent grades. All related services are provided in the regular classroom through a collaborative approach, except where privacy is an issue. Curriculum may be district core curriculum as for the other students or modified core curriculum to provide physical assistance, adapted content or material, multilevel curriculum, curriculum overlapping (same activity, same goals), or substitute curriculum.

    Individualized Educational Program (IEP): A written educational prescription developed by a school for each student with a disability. An IEP must contain the student's present levels of educational performance, annual and short-term educational goals, the specific education program and related services that will be provided to the student, and the extent to which the student will participate in the regular education program with nondisabled students.

    Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): Public Law 108–446 is called the “Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004.” Its “short title” is Individuals With Disabilities Education Act.

    Integration: Integration refers to the inclusion and interaction of students with special needs in an age-appropriate regular education program and/or classroom from which they are able to derive educational benefit in a variety of areas, including social skills and interactions, communication and language skills, classroom skills, independent living/vocational skills, and academic skills. Integration is an ongoing process related to the individual needs of students.

    LEA: Local educational agency; that is, a local public school district.

    Least restrictive environment (LRE): Provisions for LRE appear in IDEA regulations. LRE requires that “to the maximum extent appropriate, students with disabilities are educated with students who are non-disabled; and special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of students with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.”

    Mainstreaming: This is an outmoded term referring to the practice of returning students with disabilities to a regular classroom for a portion of the school day. The student, however, is a “drop-in” and not a full member of the classroom. Students who were mainstreamed into regular education classes were considered visitors who did not appear on the general education teacher's role. As a result, the general education teacher perceived the student as not part of the class and oftentimes was reluctant to take responsibility for the student's learning outcomes. This practice also created symbolic barriers between the student and his or her peers because the student was not considered a full member of the class.

    MAPS (Making Action Plans): A person-centered planning process used before major life transitions (leaving high school to enter a work environment) to help the student and family focus on dreams for the student's future. MAPS is carried out in a meeting with the student's family and friends. They gather to share their positive beliefs for the person's future and express affirming statements regarding the student's talents and strengths. Facilitators and participants must believe in the person's capacity to reach his or her goals. The end result of MAPS is to have a plan for the person's future, keeping in mind the student's interests, strengths, and dreams while addressing challenges that may interfere with progress toward goals and how to overcome them.

    Mean: The arithmetical average; the sum of all scores divided by the number of scores.

    Modality: An avenue of acquiring sensation; the visual, auditory (hearing), tactile, kinesthetic (motion and balance), olfactory (smell), and gustatory (taste) modalities are the most common sense modalities.

    Modeling: A procedure for learning in which the individual observes a model perform some task and then imitates the performance of the model. Modeling accounts for much verbal and motor learning in young children.

    Modifications: Changes to what a student is expected to learn. They are provided to students with disabilities who are working below grade level and who may require modified expectations within a given activity to meet their individual needs. Alternative curriculum goals can be used to make the content more relevant and functional to the individual's needs. Requirements for a student may be partially adapted, with the student expected to master some, but not all, of the expectations. Or the level of mastery that is expected for a student may be altered.

    Natural proportions: Ensuring that the proportions, or ratios, of students with disabilities in any given class represent the natural proportions that occur in the community. This would mean there is not overrepresentation in one class and underrepresentation in another, but all classes reflect the naturally occurring proportions of the general population in the community. Typically, no more than 1% to 2% of a school's population will have significant disabilities, and there should be no more than one student with a significant disability in a regular classroom. In general, 10% to 15% of students may have some type of disability, and so for classes of 30 students, for example, there would be 3 to 5 students with disabilities.

    Negative feedback: Communication to the subject that his or her response was incorrect. It tends to reduce the chances of repetition of the behavior.

    Negative reinforcement: A procedure for strengthening behavior when the consequence of that behavior is the termination or avoidance of an aversive stimulus. That is, the response is followed by the avoidance or termination of some event noxious to the individual.

    Norm: An average, common, or standard performance under specified conditions (e.g., the average achievement test score of 9-year-old children or the average birth weight of male children).

    Objective observation: Audiotape, videotape, or written notation of behaviors. Can include tallies for frequency, duration, or speed; can be a narrative transcription of the actions and verbalizations observed.

    Occupational therapy (OT): A special education–related service that is usually focused on the development of a student's fine motor skills and/or the identification of adapted ways of accomplishing activities of daily living when a student's disabilities preclude doing those tasks in typical ways (e.g., modifying clothing so a person without arms can dress himself or herself).

    PATH (Planning Alternative Tomorrows With Hope): A group planning tool that transition planners can use to develop long- and short-range goals by encouraging students with the help of family and friends to think about their hopes for the future.

    Perseveration: The tendency for one to persist on without interruption on a specific thought, act, or behavior to the exclusion of other thoughts.

    Person-centered planning: Person-centered planning is a process whereby students with disabilities, with the support of families, direct the planning and allocation of resources to meet their own life vision and goals.

    Person-first language: A method of description that is used when referring to people with disabilities. The guiding principle is to refer to the person first, not the disability. In place of saying “autistic student,” it is preferable to say “student with autism.” This way, the emphasis is placed on the person, not the disability.

    Phonics: The study of speech sounds with special reference to reading.

    Primary reinforcer: Those stimuli that can strengthen behaviors they follow without prior learning. These reinforcing stimuli derive their reinforcing power from the fact that they satisfy physiological needs of the organism (e.g., food, water).

    Program specialist: A program specialist is a specialist who holds a valid special education credential, health services credential, or school psychologist authorization, and who has advanced training and related experience in the education of individuals with exceptional needs and a specialized, in-depth knowledge of special education services.

    Rapport: A relationship of ease, harmony, and accord between the subject and examiner or therapist.

    Regression: The return to a previous or earlier developmental phase.

    Reinforcement: A procedure to strengthen or weaken a response by the administration of immediate rewards (positive reinforcement) or punishment (negative reinforcement).

    Reinforcer: Any stimulus event that can be used to strengthen a behavior it follows.

    Related services: Related services include developmental, corrective, and other supportive services as are required to assist a student with a disability to benefit from special education. Examples of related services include speech-language pathology, psychological services, and occupational therapy.

    Resource Specialist Program (RSP): Students receiving special education instruction for less than 50% of the school day are enrolled in RSP. These students may be “pulled out” of the general classroom for special assistance during specific periods of the day or week and are taught by credentialed special education resource specialists.

    Resource teacher: A specialist who works with students with special learning needs and acts as a consultant to other teachers, providing materials and methods to help students who are having difficulty within the regular classroom. The resource teacher may work from a centralized resource room within a school where appropriate materials are housed.

    Self-determination: Individuals making the choices that allow them to exercise control over their own lives, to achieve their personal goals and to acquire the skills and resources necessary to participate fully and meaningfully in school and society.

    Sensory integration: Sensory integration refers to the management of multiple sense perceptions entering the mind all at once. The ability to manage the senses helps individuals respond and behave accordingly. Some individuals with autism struggle to sort out multiple sensory inputs and may find certain sensations aversive. If the person is unable to filter out certain sensory stimuli, an emotional response may result.

    Social perception: The ability to interpret stimuli in the social environment and appropriately relate such interpretations to the social situation.

    Socialization: Shaping of individual characteristics and behaviors through the stimuli and reinforcements that the social environment provides.

    Special day class (SDC): A self-contained classroom in which only students who require special education instruction are enrolled.

    Special education: The individually planned and systematically monitored teaching procedures and other interventions designed to help learners with special needs achieve the greatest possible personal self-sufficiency and success in school and community.

    Special education local plan area (SELPA): The geographical service area that is responsible for administering special education programs and services.

    Splinter skill: A skill that is not an integral part of an orderly sequential development. It is a skill mastered ahead of the usual developmental sequence or is advanced compared with the student's overall developmental level.

    Stereotypical behavior: A repetitive motor behavior with no obvious purpose. These behaviors are common with individuals on the autism spectrum. Many refer to them as “self-stimulating” behaviors, as they appear to be motivated by something in the self. Stereotypical behaviors can interfere with learning and attending to tasks.

    Stereotyping: A biased generalization, usually about a social or national group, in which individuals are falsely assigned traits they do not possess.

    Stimulus: An external event, act, or influence that causes physiological change in a sense organ.

    Student study team (SST): A general education process designed to make preliminary modifications within the general education program of a student not succeeding in class (sometimes referred to as a “student success team”).

    Supplementary aids and services: Aids, services, and other supports that are provided in regular education classes, other education-related settings,

    and extracurricular and nonacademic settings, to enable students with disabilities to be educated with nondisabled students to the maximum extent possible.

    Syndrome: A complex set of symptoms; a set of symptoms or characteristics occurring together. This contrasts with disease, which is a disorder of structure or function in the person.

    Transition: The period of adjustment from school to working life that is outcome oriented encompassing a broad array of services and experiences that lead to employment and adult life.

    Transition services: A coordinated set of activities for a student with a disability that is designed to facilitate the student's movement from school to postschool activities.

    Workability: A program that promotes independent living and provides comprehensive preemployment worksite training, employment, and follow-up services for youth in special education who are making the transition from school to work, postsecondary education, or training.

















    Appendix 2: Special Education Acronyms

    ADA: Americans With Disabilities Act

    ADD: Attention deficit disorder

    ADHD: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

    APE: Adaptive physical education

    AS: Asperger syndrome (sometimes referred to as Asperger's syndrome)

    ASD: Autism spectrum disorder

    AVID: Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) is a college preparatory program for students in the middle who are often economically disadvantaged and underachieving.

    DSM-IV:Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition

    ED: Emotional disturbance

    FBA: Functional behavioral assessment

    IDEA: Individuals With Disabilities Education Act

    IEP: Individualized Educational Program

    IFSP: Individualized family service plan

    LRE: Least restrictive environment

    NCLB: No Child Left Behind Act

    O T: Occupational therapy

    PBSP: Positive behavior support plan

    PDD-NOS: Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified

    PT: Physical therapy or therapist

    RTI: Response to intervention

    SELPA: Special education local plan area

    SIP: School improvement program

    SPT: Speech pathologist services

    TBI: Traumatic brain injury























    Resources Part I: Inclusion Support Resources

    Resource A: General Education Classroom—Goals and Desired Outcomes

    Date: Setting: Student(s): Support Staff:

    Resource B: Secondary General Education Classes—Lecture

    Date: Setting: Student(s): Support Staff:

    Resource C: Instructional Assistants Supporting Students

    Date: Setting: Student(s): Support Staff:

    In General Education Classrooms

    Strengths Target Areas:

    Resource D: Instructional Assistants—Providing Quality Support

    Date: Setting: Student(s): Support Staff:

    Within General Education Classrooms

    Resource E: Recess

    Date: Setting: Student(s): Support Staff:

    Strengths: Targets:

    Resource F: Lunch/Yard

    Date: Setting: Student(s): Support Staff:

    Resource G: Physical Education Class

    Goals and Desired Outcomes

    Resource H: Structured Social Opportunities

    Social Activities and Social Clubs

    Resource I: School Jobs

    Date: Setting: Student(s): Support Staff:

    Resource J: Instruction and Group Management Goals and Desired Outcomes

    Resource K: Inclusion Support Teacher Role Management Areas

    Date: Setting: Student(s): Support Staff:

    Resource L.1: Social Engagement Observation

    Use the following observation charting rubric (Resource L.2) titled “Social Engagement Observation Charting” to measure progress toward social goals. Observations should accurately reflect student progress. It's important to take data not only to be accountable for IEP goals but to learn what techniques work best in achieving goals.

    Chart Explained: The Social Engagement Observation Chart is divided into 40 separate boxes, each designed to measure one interaction. The chart can accommodate a total of 40 possible interactions. From the completed chart, the IEP team can determine the amount of progress the student is making and in what areas. Accurate reporting reveals areas of strength as well as areas that challenge the student. For example, consider a nonverbal student who, prior to the current placement, avoided contact with his peers. With the coding system, an observer can record if the student participated with peers in an activity and if the interaction was a positive or negative encounter. Remember: A student does not have to talk to interact! Just being in proximity to peers is a form of interaction. For some students, if they join in on an activity, that behavior may be considered significant!

    Explanation of Coding: Each code represents a clearly defined observable behavior that can be defined as communication in some form. Use the following descriptions as guidelines only.

    Verb (Verbal Interaction): The student uses vocalizations to express an emotion. Vocalization includes common speech and other vocalized sound that communicates something.

    If the direct result of the verbalization results in a positive outcome (e.g., peer approval, attainment of needs that leads toward the identified goal), mark (+). If the vocalization leads to a negative outcome (e.g., student gains negative attention, leaves an unfavorable impression with others), then mark (–). We have now recorded what the student did (verbalized) and the outcome, negative or positive.

    Act (Activity): The student engaged in an activity involving another individual or group without prompting. “Activity engagement” is broadly defined as seeking out an activity that involves others for some purpose. Being around people does not have to be the motivation for engaging in the activity. Just doing something with others because of a mutual interest is enough. If the activity was generally positive in nature, mark (+). If the activity resulted in some negative outcome (e.g., student is rejected for inappropriate behavior, poor sportsmanship, etc.), mark (–)

    PI (Peer Interaction): This is defined as an interaction between the observed student and his or her peer. The interaction can be initiated by either the peer or the student with ASD. The interaction must be reciprocal (both conversation partners contribute to the interaction) to earn a (+). For example, if a typical peer asks the student a question, and the student says, “Leave me alone, I don't want to talk,” the interaction would be marked (+) because the student with ASD did initiate and communicated his feelings. However, if the typical peer engages the student in conversation and the student runs off without commenting, the score would be (–) because no interaction occurred. Hopefully, you will observe interactions that sustain conversation beyond a short question and answer. If this happens, it's a big deal and should be noted!

    TI (Target Initiation): This type of initiated response is defined in the IEP or is part of a broader set of skills. It is targeted for a reason. Based on previous interventions, the targeted initiation is a priority to the child's family or in response to a social deficit. For example, if a student tends to enter a social conversation with off-topic remarks that cause the student to appear socially inept, the intervention may target the student's ability to appropriately enter a conversation by making relevant comments that fit what the group is talking about. If the student enters a group conversation and mentions something totally off topic, the score would be marked (–). in another example, a student enters a room and fails to state a proper greeting. The targeted response would be to seek opportunities for the student to enter a room for the purpose of appropriately greeting someone. If the student successfully greets a person, the student would earn a (+). If the student fails to greet as planned, he would earn a (–).

    B (Inappropriate Interaction): If the student is observed acting inappropriately toward his peers or staff, (B) is an appropriate code to circle. For example, if the student kicks someone or hits another person, the score would be marked B. This code is appropriate when measuring the behaviors of students who use challenging behavior to communicate. Another example is the student who shouts out or screams. He or she is not engaged in a social situation but is communicating through inappropriate behavior.

    Calculate the percentages of each response to better understand the student's preferred mode of communication and to gauge if a targeted communication is increasing or reducing.

    Here's how: (1) Count the total the number of boxes used; (2) count the total number of one type of communication—for example (Verb) verbal; and (3) count the total number of (+) verbal and (–) verbal. To determine how many verbal responses out of all responses, divide the total number of boxes by the total number of verbal (+) or (–). You get the idea!

    Resource L.2

    Resource M: Assessment of Student Participation in General Education Settings

    Form 1

    Student: __________________________ Grade, Subject, and Class Period:


    Classroom Teacher: ___________ Prep Period: ______________

    Room Number: ______ # of Students in Class: _____

    Observation completed by: _________________________________________


    • After the student attends the specific general education class for approximately one week, the team reviews all the skills identified in Resources M and N of this assessment tool.
    • Circle about five items that the team identifies as priorities for instructional emphasis for the individual student.
    • Write objectives for each of the circled items; then design related instructional programs.
    • Review student progress on all items at least two more times during the school year. Revise as needed.

    Resources Part II: Behavior Support Resources

    Resources part II: Behavior support resources

    Resource Q: Behavior Support Tools

    When a student is not complying with directions or is acting out, avoiding tasks, being the class clown, and so forth, it may be time to intervene with a behavior support plan. Before jumping to conclusions and giving your opinion, a little scientific inquiry is in order. Observe the student across settings to determine where the challenging behavior is most likely to occur. Jot down the situation and activities as the period progresses. Rate the student's performance level using the “Situational Analysis” (Resource R) or “Scatter Plot Analysis” (Resources S.1 and S.2) or “Positive Behavior Support Analysis” (Resource T) to chart the relationship between factors affecting behavior and the student's response. These techniques will be useful in identifying possible environmental factors (seating arrangements), interpersonal issues (the presence of certain people), activities (independent task completion, disliked subjects), or sensory factors (noise level) and time of day that may contribute to an increase in challenging behavior.

    You are encouraged to modify these tools to meet your needs. They can be customized to analyze specific behaviors and situations. For example, you can change the Scatter Plot increments of 5 minutes to 10, 20, or 30 minutes, 1 hour, or a few days. You can alter the Situational Analysis by filling in different behaviors and activity arrangements.

    Make sure you describe behaviors in concrete terms that are easy to communicate and simple to measure and record. If descriptions are vague—“Sherry has a poor attitude” or “Sam is inappropriate”—it is difficult for two observers to interpret the same behavior in measurable terms. What is inappropriate to one person may be acceptable behavior for someone else. As an example of a concrete description of a problem behavior, if you see Sam gaining approval from his classmates after he calls out during instruction, you might decide the function of the behavior is to gain favor from his peers.

    When the function of the behavior is understood, a behavior intervention plan can be developed. Once you understand why the challenging behavior is occurring, you can change conditions to reduce anxiety while working to satisfy the student's needs in more acceptable ways.

    Consider a few examples: If Sherry has been working on a class assignment for a long time and is becoming restless, instead of punishing her for “escaping tasks,” allow for more breaks between tasks. Perhaps do more activity-based peer partner work. If you know Tom struggles with math and notice a pattern where every time he's asked to engage in a difficult math assignment, he acts out to avoid instruction, modify the instruction to fit Tom's needs.

    It's helpful to observe the student across settings and during different types of activities to see if a challenging behavior is present. To further validate your conclusion, conduct interviews with other teachers to see if they agree.

    Source: Adapted from Magee-Quinn, M., Gable, R. A., Rutherford, R. B., Nelson, & Howell, K. W. (1998). Addressing student problem behavior: An IEP team's introduction to functional behavioral assessment and behavior intervention plans. Washington, DC: Center for Effective Collaboration and Practice, American Institutes for Research. Used with permission.
    Resource R: Situational Analysis form

    Resource S.1: Scatter Plot Analysis

    Resource S.2: Scatter Plot Analysis

    Resource T


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