A showcase of undergraduate assessment items, or, the wild ramblings of a lunatic.....either one works.
First Issue - Deficits in Executive Function affecting independence.
With the impending transition to high school, K will be expected to improve his self-management skills, and learn to be more responsible and independent in his role as student. Executive functions such as scheduling of classes, planning of homework steps, and mental flexibility to cope with the variety of different subjects and teachers, are all abilities that will assist with independence in later adult life. Yet as Hume, Boyd, Hamm & Kucharczyk (2014) point out, these skills tend to decline in adolescents with ASD, and are already lacking in K’s repertoire of skills.
Given the size and structure of most high schools, there will be more freedom for autonomy and less support from school staff. At present K relies greatly on parental and teacher prompts to complete schoolwork and meet deadlines. He will need improved self-management skills to succeed in his studies, and self-regulatory skills to responsibly control his behaviour.
Another factor that will impact on the level of independence desired in high school is a communication difficulty described by Attwood (1998) as auditory discrimination and distortion. K either loses the verbal instruction in background noise, or is overwhelmed by the length or complexity of the speech, and he has described his teacher’s explanations as “complicated”, finding it hard to understand the basic task at hand. Social communication difficulties also result in an inability to ask questions to gain the clarity needed, so the problem is further compounded.
First Artefact - Visual schedule/timetable and detailed checklist.
As children with ASD respond well to visual learning, both Silverman & Weinfeld (2007) and Hume, Boyd, Hamm & Kucharczyk (2014) all recommend the use of visual supports to help with study organisation. Schedules and timetables can be read simply, and lessen the confusion for timely attendance of classes. Homework can also be similarly represented. While K prefers to no longer use pictorial symbols on visual supports, the table-style of the schedule provides the same visual benefit.
K’s teacher has had recent success in creating lesson summary checklists with him and using clear language in easy to follow steps. With the upcoming transition to high school, I have attempted to take this one step further again by combining the lesson summary with the schedule. This way K can see the classes he has for that day, followed by a lesson summary which would ideally be formulated together with the help of each teacher. There is then room on the visual schedule to further clarify learning tasks for the day, which can then lead on to the day’s homework. By representing tasks visually, K can see what is expected of him, and work through the list systematically.
High school students will be required to use diaries for timetables and homework, and this visual schedule can be easily incorporated into the diary. As weekly timetables would be worked out in advance, the visual schedules can be created for each day, and reused each week just like a small whiteboard. Adjustments are easily added with whiteboard markers. The schedule is a laminated A4 sheet of paper, very cheap to make, easily adaptable, and reusable. Items can be added or crossed off as the student works through the checklist of tasks, transferring final notes to their diary, and once finished, wiped off for reuse the following week.