Autism Awareness Month

Autism Awareness Month Resources for Educators & Parents

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by Caitlin Gallagher & Genevieve Thomas
School Psychologist, Ed.S | Director of Integrated Special Education

The month of April is Autism Awareness Month, dedicated to educating the public about autism and issues within the autism community.  Currently, approximately one in 68 children is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder*.  We educate children with ASD in every one of our Rocketship schools, and this month we are excited to share a selection of our favorite resources for teachers and families.

The basics: Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew

Autism is a complex disorder but for purposes of this article, we can distill its characteristics into four fundamental areas: sensory processing challenges, speech/language delays and impairments, social interaction skills and whole child/self-esteem issues.  And though these four elements may be common to many children, keep in mind that Autism is a spectrum disorder (ASD) meaning no two children with Autism will be completely alike.

Resources for Educators

Behavior Doctor (Autism Pages)
for educators new to working w/ students on the spectrum

The Behavior Doctor is an amazing collection of resources to support behavior and positive social-emotional functioning in general, and the Autism pages are no exception.  This page provides a great list of considerations for educators working with students on the spectrum, as well as resources and additional references.

The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders
for teachers looking for evidence-based practices

The National Professional Development Center has an array of resources to support educators working with students with ASD, one of the most useful of which is their collection of “Evidence-Based Practices for Children and Youth with ASD” briefs.  This includes 24 briefs, each including a summary of the research base, and overview of the practice, the steps for implementation, and an implementation fidelity checklist.

The Watson Institute
for teachers who are trying to create social stories

Social stories are an evidence-based intervention used to teach individuals with social differences how to learn and follow common routines and social norms.  The Watson Institute has a wide range of behavior stories available for free, which can be used as is or as a template that can be adapted to meet any educator’s or family’s needs.

University of North Carolina’s TEACCH Autism Program
for teachers in need of visual resources

TEACCH developed the intervention approach called “Structured TEACCHing”, which is based on understanding the learning characteristics of individuals with autism and the use of visual supports to promote meaning and independence.  Resources, including books, DVDs, and teaching materials are available on the TEACCH Resource Page.

Santa Clara County Office of Education Learning Multimedia Center
a source for inexpensive materials

SCCOE’s Learning Multimedia Center contains a wide selection of resources for educators, including many resources to support educators working with students on the Autism spectrum.  Of particular note is the “Make ‘n’ Take Center,” where, for a nominal fee, teachers can reproduce TEACCH materials for use with students on the spectrum.


Resources for Families

Parents Helping Parents
for parents looking for community support (in San Jose)

Parents Helping Parents Center is located in San Jose and helps families who have children of any age with special needs. They offer a variety of programs, classes, and resources in the community to support families who are raising children with special needs, including Autism.  Check out the Local Event Calendar for events in San Jose.

Address:

Parents Helping Parents
Sobrato Center For Nonprofits-San Jose
1400 Parkmoor Avenue Suite 100
San Jose, CA 95126

Phone:  (408) 727-5775

Autism Speaks
for parents who want to spread awareness

Autism Speaks has grown into the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. Join us May 3RD at History Park in San Jose for the Autism Speaks Walk.  For more information about walking with our Rocketship team please email Cgallagher@rsed.org for more information.

Event Address:

History Park San Jose
601 Phelan Ave
San Jose, CA 95112

Autism NOW (In the Community)
for parents looking for inclusion practices

The National Autism Resource and Information Center is an effective central point of quality resources and information for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and other developmental disabilities, their families, and other targeted key stakeholders.  The community pages specifically include ideas for travel, nutrition, and promoting of inclusion within the community.

Connect Ability (Visual Schedules for Home and Community)
for parents who want to create visual schedules

Visual schedules have many advantages both to children with Autism and may be even more important to use at home than at school. This is due to the routinized nature of the school day and the fact that many children living with Autism are unable to maintain the effort they need to function successfully at school when they return home. Time spent making visual schedules now will support independent functioning while decreasing anxiety and difficult behaviors. Consider creating visual schedules for morning routine, after school/nighttime routine, and community outings.

Our Best Sensory Bins
f or parents looking for inexpensive sensory bin ideas

Sensory bins are a wonderful tool for use for children with Autism that are experiencing sensory challenges and are often used to facilitate communication and sustained attention. Sensory bins can be used at home or can even be created to be portable to help meet the individual stimulation needs and challenges that arise for many children with Autism.

*Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Caitlin Gallagher is one of Rocketship’s talented School Psychologist. She grew up in the East Bay and attended the University of the Pacific before earning an  Ed.S in School Psychology at Chapman. For fun, Caitlin enjoys traveling and reading.

 

Genevieve Thomas has had various roles within special education over almost a decade before becoming Rocketship’s Director of Integrated Special Education . She hopes to one day see Rocketship expand to Washington, as they just passed a charter law there recently. Genevieve has many passions, but when forced to choose, she is caught between finding new ways to be active in the outdoors, and finding ways to improve educational opportunities for students with disabilities.

 

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