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Teaching Coping Skills To Students With Disabilities

It is so important to help our students build coping skills. Having coping skills will help our students with practice academics and build social skills. Here are some tips to help organize instruction, practice and generalization of coping skills

It is so important to help our students build coping skills. Having coping skills will help our students with practice academics and build social skills. Here are some tips to help organize instruction, practice and generalization of coping skills.

Having effective coping skills not only helps the classroom run smoother, but there are other great benefits:

*Students will have more on task time which can lead to stronger academic skills

*Students will have better relationships with peers

*Students will have more opportunities to go out into the community 

All sounds great, right? Well, now it is time to target them. The BEST time to practice coping skills is when the student is calm. Instruction involves:

Visuals

Use visuals to teach and to break down concepts and help with understanding. I often use social stories with visuals to help my students understand the coping skills I am targeting. For example, when I teach waiting I use a story highlighting general times we have to wait and how the student should handle it. We read the story 2 to 3 times a day. 

The waiting story talks about taking 5 deep breaths while he waits. While reading the social story, we practice hearing the word wait and taking the slow, deep breaths. This practice will help make it easier for students to use the breathing correctly when he needs it. 

You could also use visuals to help students understand when he is mad or upset. Examples would include showing the student a picture of what he needs to do- whether it be the direction or the coping strategy. 


Role Playing

Role playing is a great way to work on coping strategies. My students all have language based disabilities, so they have a hard time with abstract concepts. Role playing helps them understand what they should do and how to do it. 


Replacement Behaviors

It is important that we don't just take away a strategy students are using (even if it is inappropriate) without giving them a replacement strategy. Make sure the replacement strategy is something that you practice and the student can do on their own. Here are some of the replacement strategies that work best in my classroom:


* Asking for a break

*Asking for help

*Yoga moves such as downward dog

*Sensory toys


Reflection- Crucial Step!

Lastly, after an incident where a student used or should have used a coping strategy, it is important to help the student reflect on what happened. All students, even non-verbal students, should do this crucial step. It is important to talk about what happened and what coping strategy the student used. 

This is a great time for students (with adult support) look at the strategies they used to see if they were helpful, which one felt better, which one was effective, etc. This is a great time to add in visuals to help the student understand the reflection time and answer questions such as, "Which worked better kicking or asking for help?"

Don't forget to pin this post to refer back on the different steps: CLICK HERE TO PIN THIS POST.
It is so important to help our students build coping skills. Having coping skills will help our students with practice academics and build social skills. Here are some tips to help organize instruction, practice and generalization of coping skills.





Hands On Learning Activities For December

December can be a tricky month for our kiddos. The air is filled with excitement and new things are popping up everywhere. I typically see an increase in behaviors and off task behaviors this month. To combat that, we combine the "excitement" with our structure and learning.

Many of our students make progress very slowly. We have to teach and practice the same skills over and over. Our students get bored just like us! Here are some was to make learning (and teaching) the same skills again more fun.

Make Instruction Fun

Seriously, this is half the battle! Many of our students make progress very slowly. We have to teach and practice the same skills over and over. Our students get bored just like us! Here are some was to make learning (and teaching) the same skills again more fun.

Present the skills in a different way than you usually do. Here is an example of how we practice reading and listening comprehension, word recall and categories. This book, What Could It Be?, makes practice fun. Students are already excited about presents which this book taps into.



Anything with elves is going to be an attention grabber... just think of all the success of elf on a shelf! Students already know and love using interactive books. Add in elves and they are even better!

They are so excited to see what the elves are doing, that they don't even notice they are also practicing reading, labeling, matching, answering questions, attending, etc! I like being a sneaky teacher! 😀

This elf book is from our set of Christmas interactive books.



Another idea is to practice doing some of the unit vocabulary you have been practicing. We practiced decorating trees.... with a twist! Each student got a baggie of ornaments that peers had to request from them to decorate their tree. Here we were targeting asking questions, peer to peer interactions, responding to questions, etc. The task was so motivating!!

Many of our students make progress very slowly. We have to teach and practice the same skills over and over. Our students get bored just like us! Here are some was to make learning (and teaching) the same skills again more fun.


My last tip today is to just say no to worksheets! This is the time of the year when hands on activities are even more crucial. Students will stay engaged in learning and spend less time off task when learning is fun. Here are some of the ways we practice our math skills without worksheets. All of these activities (and more!) are from our Christmas and family unit:




Here are some more blog posts to help you through the month:




Many of our students make progress very slowly. We have to teach and practice the same skills over and over. Our students get bored just like us! Here are some was to make learning (and teaching) the same skills again more fun.

Tools To Make Fine Motor Tasks Easier!

While arts and crafts offer a TON of opportunities to target skills and generalization, they can also be nerve wracking in a special education classroom. Right?! There are giant messes with paint and glitter and lost glue caps, markers running dry... the list is endless! Fear not! I have some cool products to share with you to make it all easier for you:


While arts and crafts offer a TON of opportunities to target skills and generalization, they can also be nerve wracking in a special education classroom. Right?! There are giant messes with paint and glitter and lost glue caps, markers running dry... the list is endless! Fear not! I have some cool products to share with you to make it all easier for you:
Affiliate links are included in this post

The Pencil Grip Company gave me some paint sticks and markers to try out. We LOVED them and had to share the news with you! The first thing we tried out were the Magic Stix markers. They were the perfect size for my kiddos- even the kiddos with grip issues. They easily washed off our hands and didn't dry out when caps were left off!! The package says they won't dry out even if the cap is left off for 7 days!! AMAZING!



The markers made our guided reading responses so much more fun!



The second item we tried were the Kwik Stix Paint Sticks. These things are great! They make using paint so much more manageable... and enjoyable! Check out the craft we did in one group session:


If we had used regular paint, we would not have been able to complete this project in one session. The paint sticks easily glide and gave off just the right amount of paint. I really liked how quickly the paint dried.... it only took a minute or two. Since it dried so quickly, we were able to add the lines and dots as well as cut the shapes out. Some of my students have a hard time coping when we aren't able to complete a project all in one session. With these paint sticks we didn't have to worry about that! 

The Kwik Stix also come in a good assortment of colors, so you can add in multiple requesting opportunities to the project. They are also gluten free, so I was able to use them with all of my students. I would highly recommend them!

Building Functional Language Skills In The Classroom

Many of our students come to us needing intense language development instruction. Often, my students are diagnosed with language based disabilities. Receiving speech therapy down the hall a couple times a week isn't going to cut it. It is imperative that we build in a high level of practice in our classrooms. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Many of our students come to us needing intense language development instruction. Often, I my students are diagnosed with language based disabilities. Receiving speech therapy down the hall a couple times a week isn't going to cut it. It is imperative that we building in a high level of practice in our classrooms. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
This post may include affiliate links

Requesting

Requesting is one of the most basic and easiest language skills to integrate into your classroom. Here are a list of activities that you can easily practice requesting with:

*Materials needed for lessons (pencil, glue, paper, etc.)

*Materials needed for art projects (different colored papers, scissors, etc.)

*Snack & Lunch items (the actual food, napkin, cup, drink, etc.)

*Actions at therapy or recess (push on swing, chase on the playground, help, etc.)

*For information during lessons or transitions (where are we going, what do I do next, etc.)


Vocabulary

We work on vocabulary building a few different ways. We use theme units in my classroom, so we highlight new theme words every week. I choose 10 words from the unit to do each week during my 2 week theme unit. Some students are able to learn all 10 while others focus on 3 to 5- just depends on the student.  Here is a picture of how I display my theme words. The cards are usually lining the left side of this whiteboard divider. We pull the individual cards out to highlight the word(s).



We use these cards to work on language concepts, too. For example, it's features, function and class. We write sentences about the words in shared writing and in journals. Since we are using words from our theme units, the students are immersed in the vocabulary and language concepts. They are seeing and hearing the words over and over to increase the likelihood of mastery.

We also build vocabulary and functional language with interactive books. These books are like gold in my classroom. My kiddos LOVE them!! Here are some examples of interactive books we use to for language development in my room:





Direct Instruction 

Direct instruction is also a good time to target language skills. The skill we target the most is being able to answer yes/no questions correctly. SOOO important for our kids, yet SOOO hard for them! We begin targeting this skill in direct instruction and then generalize the activities throughout the school day. For example, question of the day in morning meeting, sorting in literacy centers, clip cards in task boxes, etc.



Here are some example of how we target object function in direct instruction:




Click the links below for more info on integrating language skills into your classroom:





Many of our students come to us needing intense language development instruction. Often, I my students are diagnosed with language based disabilities. Receiving speech therapy down the hall a couple times a week isn't going to cut it. It is imperative that we building in a high level of practice in our classrooms. Here are a few ideas to get you started.



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