Sometimes simpler is better. In my experience working with students with ASD, sometimes simpler IS better. Keep in mind; I work with students on the mid to lower end of the spectrum and my students REALLY benefit from a rigid schedule. If a student is having difficulties with behaviors, focusing, being over stimulated, lack of motivation, or anything outside of “normal” age typical behavior – SIMPLIFY! I always say you need to stabilize a student before the real work can begin. How do you stabilize – SIMPLIFY.
If a student is really struggling then take a step back, find activities that the student can engage in calmly, and stick to those activities. Typically those activities are not academic in nature instead games, walks, breaks, sensory activities, etc. It’s OKAY to take a step back and simplify a daily schedule IF the end goal is to return to more age appropriate lessons/activities. I have seen it time and time again, an out of control student with tons of behavior, and the student is being forced to participate in meaningless academic activity. There is a time and place for academic activities BUT it’s not when a student does not have control of their body and his emotions.
So when and who makes the decision to SIMPLIFY a schedule? I believe it should be up to the teacher and classroom staff. Hopefully the teacher is communicating with the parents and the schools IEP team throughout the decision making process. A GOOD teacher has the knowledge and experience of being able to juggle when a student needs to be pushed vs. when a student needs to be given time and space. I constantly have to make the decision to simply a schedule or do I need to push a student?
There is always the temptation to try too much before the student has truly stabilized. I am guilty of trying to push a student before they are ready. How do we know they are ready? Again, a professional ASD teacher or consultant will have the experience and knowledge to make these decisions.
If you are struggling with behaviors, attention, or just don’t feel comfortable with a situation – SIMPLIFY!