Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Autistic Meltdown

Hi everyone! Today has been tough. In my class about half of my students are diagnosed with autism. One of my students screams and yells when she has a meltdown. I am usually able to help her stay on track but some days (like today) she is inconsolable. In the beginning of the year I had to keep explaining to security that this particular student was okay and was not hurting anyone. Thankfully she is not violent to herself or anyone else.

I don't know about other states but here in California there is a Autism Certificate we can obtain. (I've heard it will be required soon). I unfortunately have not had that training. My only experience with students with behavior issues who are diagnosed with autism is from my less than 2 years of teaching.

Today my student screamed and cried when I asked her to put her blue folder away during 5th period. She proceeded to call me a monster. During 6th period it escalated when she wanted one of my aides to give her all of the answers instead of reading her worksheet. (She is very smart and is able to do it on her own without any help on good days) I then asked her to clean up to go home. She refused to go to the bus to go home. She alternated from running away from me, hitting the lockers, screaming she did not want to go home, screaming for everyone to wait for her, and finally falling to the floor screaming.
Eventually I helped her on the bus and she went home.

I know I'm doing something or several things wrong. I don't know how to help her. She scares the other high school students, she disrupts my class, and most of all she will soon be out in the real world with no coping skills. She is currently a sophomore in high school.

If you have any advice I would love to hear some. I've tried researching some but I can not find anything that would help. So far I am going to use this chart I just found online and modify it.

My Point Sheet

Name: ___________________________                                             Date: ___________

I am working for: ____________________________   My Daily Point Goal: _________

I have what I need to work. (papers, pencil,
crayons…) 1 Point

Stay in your seat
1 Points
Follow directions
1 Point each time
Use polite language
1 Point
Quiet voice
1 point
1 Point every 10 minutes
Put everything away where it belongs
(finished work in purple bin, pencil in pencil box, dictionary/magazine put away…) Point 3
Period 2

Period 3

Period 4


Period 5

Period 6

Day’s Total >

Did I make my goal today?   Yes   No

What will I work on tomorrow? _______________________________


  1. Just headed over to your blog from mine, love it!! I feel you here. We just started integrating autistic students in our program in the last few years and since every case seems nothing like the last one. It can be so complicated and frustrating. Have you tried seeing if you can hit a few autism conferences? I try to go to at least 2 a year and also to the one put on by our local chapter. Very informative and I have gotten many ideas. What is this girls currency? What will she work for? I find it much easier to get compliance when they are working towards something. Feel free to email me, I'm no pro, but I can be a good person to bounce ideas off of.

    Karen (empoweredbythem@aol.com)

  2. I may be too late with this post, but in case you still have this young lady (or any other students with Autism)

    How overwhelming it must be! I have specific autism training and it can still be difficult!!
    My advice would be to use as many visuals, checklists as possible. The point sheet may not be a quick enough reinforcer. You may need to up the schedule of reinforcement drastically until she figures out the routines and procedures. I can send you a few samples and ideas if you like. Just email me at m.erin.stevenson@gmail.co