Monday, August 20, 2012

Info Sheet for New Teacher- Autism Back to School Tips

This is the sheet I give Bubby's main teacher(s) at the beginning of the year. I update info as needed.
Hello. At the beginning of the year I like to put together a little bit of info to help introduce Bubby to anyone new that will be working with him.  I hope you find it helpful, and as always, if you have any questions please contact me via e-mail (preferred) @ or phone XXX-XXX-XXXX.

 Bubby is a very affectionate caring guy. He likes to stop and chat with the adults, as well as collect hugs from all the ladies. :) He cares very much what adults think of him, so be weary of using too harsh of a tone when speaking with or correcting him.  He will take it far more personally and carry it around with him far longer than an average 10 year old little boy.  He enjoys verbal praise and feeling like he's a part of things.  His favorite things are watching funny videos, playing Minecraft, riding his scooter, swimming, playing his DS/video games, and anything to do with animals.  He LOVES animals.  When he's getting too worked up or upset about something asking him to talk about our cat or talking about your animals is a good way to calm him down and distract him.

 Bubby's sensory needs are a little different than an average person.  He gets overwhelmed in loud chaotic situations where there is a lot of noise and movement.  He will usually show this by looking and acting irritable.  He will also look like he's not following directions during these times, but his behavior is not purposeful.  He can't think straight and listen when he's in a sensory overload, and if he's it gets bad enough anxiety will set in to where it gets to where his brain goes into fight or flight mode.  This is either where he will meltdown, or shutdown.

Ways to identify a meltdown:
He will begin repeating a lot of the same things, and may not make much sense.  It will look like he's having a tantrum, but will not be able to calm down.  He will begin to cry and yell. He will begin to start looking 'floppy' where he starts flapping is arms and hands around making a noise like he's about to hyperventilate.  He'll want apologies from everyone around him, even if they didn't do anything.  (it is inappropriate to apologize if it's unwarranted) He needs to get to a quiet space to calm down away from others. He will deny this, but I always give him the choice of calming down, stop crying, or taking a break. He likes deep pressure, swinging and similar things to calm him down.  If possible when he needs a break take him to the OT room.  If he can't immediately calm himself he has to take a break.  He needs to learn that it's not appropriate to have meltdowns in front of his peers.  He should not be punished, or be made to feel ashamed of his anxiety and subsequent meltdown, either.  Last year, they said it made  Bubby’s behavior far worse to remove him from the classroom during meltdowns. You will have to get to know him and how he operates within the classroom this year  to know what to do that will work for him and everyone involved. 

Ways to identify a shutdown:
He will look blank, like he's not paying attention, and he may hum and self stimulate by pacing.  Follow the same protocol as with a meltdown.

Sometimes,  Bubby has a hard time finding his words.  Please, be patient with him and allow him to finish his sentences.  It's very much like a stutter.  The more anxious he gets the worse it gets for him to get the words out correctly. Please, don't finish sentences for him.

 Bubby likes routine and structure.  If the routine will be different it's best to let him know ASAP.  There are a lot of ways to do this. Verbally, or perhaps he can have his own written schedule on his desk.  Please, notify him and have an adult present with him before emergency drills if it becomes a problem.  Last year, he seemed to be okay without the warning, but needed it in all the years before that.   I will make up a little fact sheet with his picture on it for substitutes to look at, so they are aware of his special needs and there isn't any miscommunication. 

Thanks for being part of  Bubby's education team! If you would like more information about autism let me know and I will find some materials for you. I hope everyone has a great year!

This is the info sheet I give for the teacher to put in the Substitute folders in each room as well as for any other teacher, or para that may be working with him.  It is short and to the point. I also have a picture at the top to identify him, because obviously a sub will not know who he is by his name.


Hi, my name is Bubby.  I have mild autism.

Please, be aware that:

*I may get over stimulated if there is too much noise and stuff going on around me.

*I may not make eye contact or look like I am listening. If you are unsure if I am hearing you, please ask me

*I may need some extra assistance with directions and other things.

*I may ask you a lot of questions, because I like getting to know people.

*I may need a little bit of extra help changing routine or handling new situations.


  1. Thanks for sharing! I never thought to write something so detailed before. I do have an IEP-at-a-glance but it's so formal. Good point on the substitutes….I wonder if it actually gets to them?

    This made me think of an issue I've worried about but done nothing about…..police officers. What would happen, do you think, if a police officer barked directions at your son and he didn't respond in an expected way?

    1. Our school has a folder that every teacher puts together for any subs that come into the room, so I do think all subs do see it, but whether they pay attention or care is another story. We live in a small town with a pretty good network of teachers, so I can't complain, too much.

      They have little cards that people with ASD can put in their wallets for issues with the police. I think Bubby would respond pretty well, though. Beans, not as much, but it's obvious within seconds that he's autistic.

  2. This is so very helpful! I will modify your post for my son Tyoma. I especially like the description of meltdowns and shutdowns, I would not have thought to include that!

    Thank you for the useful info!


    1. Thanks! I'm glad you found it helpful!

    2. This is great. You've covered everything in a matter of fact way, allowing the teacher to understand, but not be alarmed or threatened. You've also set the tone for consistency between home and school, which will allow Bubby to function better, and also not allow him to create problems for himself or the teacher. All Autistic kids should start school with a note like this.

    3. Thank you! Sometimes, I see intro letters to teachers from ASD moms written with an emotional undercurrent of mistrust, resentment, and elitism and I wonder what the mom thinks that will achieve. It's like they've already made up their mind that the teacher is awful and won't cooperate based on perhaps valid past experience, but past is the key word there. The relationship has already started out sour. I try very hard to not do that. I try to just offer up some facts and hope for the best!

  3. Thanks for this. My son starts school in two days (yes, I procrastinated,) and I really needed some help!


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