Perhaps most relevant to the classroom, when you are stressed, you are less likely to embrace difficult tasks. On your most stressful day, you will probably put the complex tax form in the “to do” box and leave it for a better day. For our students, neurological stress can be the major underlying factor contributing to difficulties in communication, socialization, and academic performance.
It is our essential job, as parents and educators, to respect the neurological differences and decrease that stress in creative and varied ways. From breathing techniques to visual strategies and beyond, we will strive to decrease neurological stress so that our students and children can present their best self each and every day.
A core strategy that creates an anchor for students who struggle to make sense of their day and their environment is a schedule.
This is true of any classroom for any type of student. It has been well documented that learners benefit from having a daily agenda. The difference is that while all students benefit from a daily agenda or schedule, students with Asperger’s Syndrome and other special needs have a greater need for this simple, yet fundamental strategy.
For a younger student, this might be a simple posting of the daily activities on the board. For an older student that transitions from classroom to classroom, the daily schedule might be best in a notebook. However, each class period or subject should post the specific activities for that day.
A high school teacher can help to decrease the many stressors of high school life by posting something as simple as:
- Warm up exercise
- Read pages 44-50
- Research topic on the internet
- Turn in exit card
A companion strategy to help deal with changes to the schedule is a “surprise card” or a “change of schedule” card, depending on the student’s preference. For students that struggle with change in their lives, a surprise card can be a comfort that helps work through this rough spot.
If you’re not sure where to start . . . always start with the core strategy of a daily schedule/agenda.
By Lisa Rogers
The Education (K-12) Blogs and Special Ed Q & A are written and maintained weekly by Lisa Rogers with Educating Diverse Learners. Lisa received her M.A. in Special Education with an endorsement in the area of individuals with severe disabilities. Mrs. Rogers has also created products that have been used throughout the state of Texas for training purposes. Through the Association for Texas Professional Educators [ATPE], Ms. Rogers has produced an online course that targets the importance of visual strategies for student with autism spectrum disorders and just released her highly anticipated book titled: Visual Supports for Visual Thinkers.