Engage Conference: Workshop Notes

November 14, 2012 — Leave a comment

Yesterday, I posted notes from the three main sessions that Sue Miller led at the Engage Conference, which took place this past weekend in Mechanicsburg, PA.  You can read about that here.

Today I wanted to share a little bit about one of the workshops that I attended.  It was fantastic and very hands on!

Instructing Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in Children’s Ministry

This workshop was led by a Messiah College Professor and three of her students.  I took this workshop because I wanted to equip my volunteers to better serve children in our ministry with ASD.  This workshop had two objectives:

  1. Help us classify 3 types of learners
  2. Demonstrate multiple instructional strategies through the use of “make and takes”

When we arrived, there were goodie bags for each participant in the center of each table.

Our schedule for the workshop

The young women began our workshop by defining autism and identifying three (3) types of learners:  auditory, kinesthetic/tactile and visual.  We learned how each learner learns best and strategies to use in helping each type of learner learn.

Auditory learners learn best through verbal input.  One strategy you can try is classroom positioning.  Have the child sit or stand close to the teacher.

Kinesthetic/tactile learners learn best through their body, hands and sense of touch.  One strategy you can try is by bringing in sensory manipulatives.  We made one in class by filling an uninflated balloon with rice and tying off the balloon.  (The balloon and rice were provided for us in our goodie bag.)

Visual learners learn best through written word or pictures.  There are two strategies that you can try:

  1. Use picture cards (laminated on a ring) to flash to the children when you need them to get refocused.  You could also flash a card to let them know what’s coming up without having to say it aloud.  I thought this idea was brilliant.

Reminder cards

2. The “First/Then” strategy shows an expectation followed by something preferred.  “First we’ll…then we’ll…”  Keep in mind that you must follow through with what you say.  Otherwise, this strategy will become ineffective.

First/Then laminated card

The great news is that many strategies shared in this workshop were not only geared toward children with ASD–they could be used for every child!

Have you found a particular strategy that has helped you have success in the classroom?   If so, share here!