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The best way to address a challenging behavior with a child is to get in front of the behavior before it even happens. While intensive behavior planning can help you do just that, when it comes to our learners with ASD it also means ensuring that the required details within their program are being addressed. A common hole educators fall into is providing a program for a student with autism without taking into consideration their core deficits. And when needs go unmet, a behavior is what you get.
One great way of making sure that the whole child is being addressed is through the use of CAPS (Comprehensive Autism Planning Systems). As seen in the example below, it is a tool by which you map out a student’s entire day and systematically ensure that their sensory diet, communication supports, accommodations, and reinforcement systems are all being implemented during every moment of the day. It does not take the place of the IEP, rather it clearly flushes out how the IEP is being implemented. It clearly communicates amongst the school team what is supposed to be happening when, and it provides the family an in-depth look into their child’s day. The book that leads you through this process is fantastic and can be found at many online bookstores.
But knowing what to do with a child is only half the battle. The other half comes with effective implementation. When you are trying to support a learner who has a reinforcement board, a visual schedule, a communication board, and break cards it can be a lot to juggle. This is what lead me to creating the Ultimate Access Card, a visual support system that can effectively display multiple interventions in a very organized and simple manner. No larger than your typical desk tag, with the magic of Velcro it can be completely differentiated for each learner. When the student gets up to go another class, it goes with them.
As students grow into middle and high school some will be able to have these systems transferred to a simple and well organized tracking sheet. Daily tracking sheets can be great at still providing many of the required supports in a manner that is a little bit more discrete. They are fairly easy to make or many can be purchased off of Teachers Pay Teachers for those wishing to save some time.
It is said that all children should have access to their learning in a way that they learn best, and when it comes to our learners with ASD that means every need is being met during every moment of the day in a manner that is simple and organized. Whether it be through one of these resources or not, work to find ways in which your learners can get their needs met in a way that works for you. Differentiating in a simple manner is easier said than done, but it’s also easier than dealing the challenging behaviors that you would face because you didn’t.