There is no one size fits all approach to teaching high functioning kids on the spectrum, but I can tell you what has worked for us. Every curriculum needs adjusting, and every child has his or her own set of gifts, talents and needs. Add in the parent teacher’s preferred teaching style, belief system and materials available and every situation will be unique. I am listing a few resources I feel are of benefit to every parent teacher who has students on the high functioning end of the spectrum. Many of these apply in general to child rearing and training as well.
I am limiting my suggestions here, but keep in mind the best teachers are the ones who never stop searching for answers. It’s kind of mandatory, this flexible parenting thing. Kids have a way of changing on us as soon as we think we have stuff figured out.
How Can I Teach Them if I Can’t Even Control Their Behavior?
Parent and caregivers often spend a great deal of energy trying to control unwanted behavior. A better path, in my way of thinking, is to attempt changing the behavior by addressing the heart and motivation.
When there is a struggle, my first suggestion in teaching any child is to examine your current course of action. Is there another, better way to get the desired result? You could try Lori Petro’s Teach Through Love Teachable Moments youtube videos as a quick jumpstart. I have not deeply examined every single concept she has presented, but I have found that I agree with her general approach. She is a parent with Asperger’s raising a child with Asperger’s. These videos give some wonderful insights that can be applied by any parent or caregiver in their efforts to guide children.
The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children by Ross W. Greene PhD is an often recommended book. If you have difficulty in understanding or managing meltdowns or angry behavior, the ideas in this book may help.
What About Life Skills?
Another great common sense resource is the book How to Teach Life Skills to Kids with Autism or Asperger’s by Jennifer Mcllwee Myers. This is an easy to read book that I have found to be immensely practical and straight forward. The author of this book is on the spectrum and brings valuable perspective to the subject at hand.
What is the Best Curriculum?
It depends. There are simply too many variables. There is no such thing as a one size fits all program for any student. Each child has their own preferred learning style, capabilities, needs, and strengths. I have not used every curriculum out there on the market, even if it seems like I must have from the amount of materials collected and tried over the years!
What Worked Best for You?
My all-time favorite and most effective curriculum for our specific needs was KONOS. I used the original KONOS three volume set designed for K-8th and these are the books I am referring to. There are other KONOS products but I have not reviewed them so I am sticking to what I know here. We did not do every unit in every book. KONOS is a Christian homeschool unit study program.
Why KONOS? For us, the repetition of a unit organized around a character trait was exactly what was needed. Honestly, I muddled through at the beginning but quickly came to love the results. It truly did feel like a gift from heaven. KONOS integrates character training and academics in a hands-on structured way. I have used and perused a lot of curriculum in 20 plus years. KONOS is the only one that unified the wide variety of issues, academics, and skills I wanted to address.
We studied units that contained practical skills, speech making, literature, poetry, emotions, cooking, cooperative projects and much, much more all based around a specific character trait as a spring board. I started with Courage and we completed the entire unit, then moved on to Determination, Cooperation, and Self-Control. After we’d gotten through these, I did not do another entire BIG unit. Instead we would pick and choose from smaller units within the main category. We used KONOS for three consecutive years, including summers, and occasionally after that.
KONOS is a bit of work to implement for the teacher, but there are supports. KONOS covers all academic subjects except math. You may use the units as stand-alone units of study, adjusting them as you see fit. KONOS is also used for many co-ops. Although intended for use with two or more children, you can use it for an only child but will need to tweak the curriculum. This curriculum is very adjustable and can be used for a lighter or a more in-depth study.
KONOS is effective because it is a structured hands-on curriculum that repeats a core value for the length of the unit using various methods of teaching. It is NOT a social skills curriculum or a curriculum specifically designed for kids on the spectrum, but it sure did work well for us. Your child will need additional repetition for life skills and certain issues.
This is not THE ONE curriculum; it is only my personal favorite. It is not my favorite to prepare, but it is my favorite to actually teach and do.
KONOS has been around a lot longer than I’ve been homeschooling. That’s a long time, mommas.
You can find more information on the specifics of this curriculum at KONOS.com.
Today’s Parting Word on Teaching High Functioning Kids with ASD
Do not try to make every moment a serious teaching lesson.
[tweet_this] Yes, some kids need every.single.thing taught to them in excruciating detail with grueling repetition, but they also need you, just you. Spend down time with them.[/tweet_this] Do the fun or interesting things that they are into. Talk to them. Your child needs to know you respect and enjoy him or her as a person. And you need to take joy in being mom to an awesome kid.
Do you have a favorite resource or bit of wisdom to share? Please comment!