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Make it Successful

I thought the Spec Ed coach was crazy when she told me that she wanted the activities to be changed every seven minutes for the little boy who was having three or four meltdowns a day. Not only that, I had to prepare three visual schedules (to coincide with our 3 part day). Each strip had to have a variety of pictures so he could see what the change of activity was. "Also, please carry a visual timer with you and set it for every 7 minutes, but give him a 2 minute warning of the upcoming change of activity, please!!!! Oh, and also track it."

How would that every work? How could we prepare enough work to get through each day,  every seven minutes? It would take me a week just to prepare the visuals. The Educational Assistant and I gulped and got to work.

We started with basic visuals: sitting on the carpet, table work, sensory time, computer, surprise (for who knows what), snack, outside play time.
We prepared a bucket of easy and preferred activities, some sensory hand work, some books, fine motor work, Lego, white board printing, puzzles, etc. He would also do the regular classroom activities, but with the 5 minute warning, 7 minute change. Would he melt down at having so much change?

I recreated the day book that the Teacher Assistants keep to help streamline the tracking. We put a checkmark  to track the changes that worked, and a dash -- with a quick note, at the times it didn't. Believe it or not, out of seventeen transitions in the first day, he had had only two meltdowns. This isn't to say every day has been smooth. There are days when he balks at the activity, argues about the transition, and runs away to stop the clock. We are working on what triggers the flight response. His mom has agreed to not take him to the park at the end of the day when he has run out of the school to get to the playground. This consequence has almost stopped that safety breech.

By the end of the second day, he was checking the visual timer. I will try to get some photos of the visual schedule, and some of the activities that are prepared. I helped to organise and get materials ready, but it is the wonderful Teaching Assistant, who comes up with the information and finds the right activities for fill the day. The classroom teacher takes the time to review the next day's activities, and they share where the work will be kept. (Because, the work for this student is often started before the full lesson on the carpet or guided reading table is finished.)

The TA is the one to run around with a bag of tricks to take on the fly. It is working, though and I see smiles--tired ones, but smiles, where there were tears before. It is a good start.