Checklist of Autism Symptoms in the Classroom

Checklist of Autism Symptoms in the Classroom

Are you wondering if you are teaching autistic kids? Need to know more about symptoms as they manifest in class? Here is a list of signs and symptoms of autism to help you confirm whether you are teaching autistic kids.

This list of autism symptoms was prepared by Georgina Rayner, a highly respected advocate for autistic children, and herself a former teacher. You just know that she “gets it”.

I’ve adapted her list slightly to separate out the red flags best noticed in school.
Parents can benefit from the list of autism symptoms as well though, and I’ve identified the symptoms that they will most likely notice in a separate section at the end.
You may find it helpful to print off this page to share with parents. You can also refer them here to check for signs and symptoms of autism at home.

Autism Symptoms in the Classroom

– a checklist

  • Signs of stress: crying, temper tantrums
  • Reclusive and/or depressed
  • Extremely anxious
  • Anxiety driven behaviour (fidgeting, pacing, clicking pens, mumbling, appears to be in flight or fight mode at all times)
  • Excessively fearful about being centred out
  • Unusually clingy and insecure
  • Frequent visits to the time-out bench, principal’s office or isolation room
  • Unable to go to their room and carry our a prescribed task as they forgot by the time they got there
  • Take forever to complete a task as everything else in the area caught their attention
  • Moves from toy to toy or play station to play station and does not stay focused for any length of time
  • Asks frequent questions but does not appear to listen to the answers
  • Displays unusual or no response to emotional situations
  • Discipline has no impact on behaviour
  • Unusual ability to hear – Heightened ability to hear certain noises, but unable to hear properly in slightly noisy or cavernous rooms, like gymnasium
  • Dislikes loud noises, prefers a quiet play area
  • Tells you he feels dumb or stupid
  • Forgetful, loses his belongings and homework
  • Has trouble getting started
  • Awkward pencil grip – pressure right through the paper
  • Reluctance to try or do puzzles, but may be very good at them when challanged
  • Unusually clumsy – an accident looking for a place to happen
  • Toe walking, hand flapping
  • Student is too verbal
  • Needs to learn to take their turn
  • Doesn’t concentrate on work: unfocused, disorganized, uses time poorly
  • Prefers to be read to as opposed to trying to read
  • May be able to read at a very advanced level but still have a lower level of comprehension
  • Work has many reversals and is impossible to read
  • Chews on the front of t-shirt
  • Has very advanced verbal abilities and poor writing skills
  • May be referred to as the little professor for advanced knowledge on a subject
  • Creates issues of presumed competency
  • Hyper focus or preoccupation (space, Lego, transformers, etc.)
  • Unusually repetitive motor movements (hand flapping, finger twisting, whole body movement)
  • Tics (may include odd ones like the need to touch genitals)
  • Inability to take social and/or emotional ownership of behaviours – they don’t get it!
  • Has poor social skills and few friends, but is desperate for friends and lacks abilities to make friends
  • Very inflexible, has great difficulties with transitions
  • Unable to handle the unstructured times of the day such as recess, lunch, playground, gym class
  • Extreme sense of fairness
  • Has problems with abstract concepts and metaphors
  • Has little or no awareness of body in space, personal auras
  • Overly sensitive sense of smell
  • Abilities in music, art, drawing
  • Strong interest in technology, computers, construction etc.
  • Extremely tactile, likes the feel of certain things
  • Does not like to be touched

If you suspect you’re teaching autistic kids, then the autism symptoms above will help you identify a potential autistic child in your classroom. So what do you do now? Georgina Rayner, a former teacher, and a parent of two special needs kids, has advice for you. If anybody can help you in teaching autistic kids, it’s her! This is her advice:

First steps to take if you suspect you are teaching autistic kids.

Another wise thing to do as soon as you identify a child with autism symptoms is to create a mechanism to create and track appropriate goals, and also a way to communicate effectively with parents.
Having a parent and teacher communication book will give you an easy way to track information. (This communication book was designed especially to meet the needs of special needs kids.)
When it comes to reporting time, a parent-teacher communication book will prove invaluable. Use it to track IEP goals, and easily track changes in the students behavior and results.
It’s also helpful for transitions between classes and as a quick guide for substitute teachers.

Concern over Sheffield children’s mental health service

A Sheffield charity says children are being put at risk because of long waits to access mental health services.

Asperger’s Children and Carers Together (ACCT) claimed that some patients were waiting up to a year to see a specialist.

One mother said her son, who had expressed suicidal thoughts, had waited eight months before getting treatment.

NHS Sheffield said that spending on its Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) had increased.

‘Really concerned’

Deborah Woodhouse, director of ACCT, said that her charity had been contacted by a number of parents who were having difficulty getting access to specialist mental health treatment for their children.

“One child was self-harming and the mum couldn’t get her in to CAMHS,” said Ms Woodhouse.

“That was a young girl, she’s only about seven. Obviously we felt really concerned. We try and support the families as well, but we really feel a child like that needs professional help.”

One mother, who wished to remain anonymous, said that her son had had to wait eight months to see a specialist after his GP referred him to CAMHS after he said he felt suicidal.

“We ended up with months and months of him not able to go to school, not leaving the house, not able to eat without bringing his food back up again, not sleeping.

“We went through months of that kind of hell with no support whatsoever.”

‘Complex needs’

Dr Zak McMurray, clinical director at NHS Sheffield, said the authority had invested more than £2m in children’s mental health services over the past few years.

He said that money was an issue, but the service was being redesigned to ensure that children got the most appropriate care.

Dr McMurray said: “The problem with some of the complex needs, the tier three service, is for children with quite complex needs who need quite a complex intervention.

“In many of these cases it’s not just the financial resource, it’s actually having the staff with the expertise that can manage these children.”

Redcar dancer James Hobley to perform at London Show

Redcar dancer James Hobley to perform at London Show

James Hobley is to feature in a DVD made by Anna Kennedy, pictured with James and his mum Sheila, far left

BRITAIN’S Got Talent star James Hobley is to take to the stage to show others how sensational people with autism can be.

The 12-year-old Redcar dancer will be one of the stars of one-off show Autism’s Got Talent, organised by Teesside autism champion Anna Kennedy.

Dance teacher Anna, from Middlesbrough but now living in Middlesex, and who has two autistic sons, Patrick, 22, and 19-year-old Angelo, is a long-time campaigner on the condition who has set up two specialist schools.

She said: “All too often people make the mistake of thinking that anyone with a disability is capable of very little.

“But people on the autism spectrum often have a real talent for something, and my idea with this event was to show people that.

“We’ve got James Hobley performing, as well as singer Scott James from Stockton, who appeared on the X Factor.

“I’m now hoping to get more children and adults from the North-east signing up to take part.”

James has already been involved in other projects of Anna’s, including being featured in Step in the Right Direction, a DVD being distributed in schools, colleges and youth groups across the country.

Autism’s Got Talent will be on at the 600-seat Mermaid Theatre in London from 6pm on Saturday, May 12.

For more information, visit www.annakennedyonline.com or email lisarobins@thevine.org.uk.