Friday, May 6, 2016

Suggestions for fading 1:1 "velcro" pareducators

(From a report by one of our Autism Consultants.)

The reasons for having a 1 on 1 paraprofessional with the student are valid, yet the concerns with a one on one may outweigh the benefits. Be clear what the goals are for the student, academically, socially, and as a good learner. Define the role and responsibilities of the para. Looking long term, constantly having an adult with the student could create co-dependency, is stigmatizing, and may not be realistic when the ultimate goal is being an independent learner. The student can be weaned off a para slowly in small steps, to give him confidence and by building his skill set.

Task analyze a typical learning situation and target where the student could use direct instruction on a skill or what support is needed in areas of cognition, communication, language, social,  fine motor, etc.  Consider that the student may have some learned helplessness or not know what to do. Teach him to look around and see what everyone else is doing or raise his hand to ask for clarification. When assessing his skills at performing each step, note the latency (how long it takes to get started), duration (how long it takes to complete a step). Note any difficulties he may have with finding his place, writing, cutting, finding the glue, etc.  The paraeducator can act as a classroom assistant with full awareness of when the student will need support. Scaffolding is providing just enough support necessary for the student to be successful. She may also be weaning herself off his emotional and social need to have attention and help.

Currently the paraeducator sits right next to the student most of the time. Decrease proximity by standing behind him. If he protests, act as if there is a job that needs to be done (correcting papers or preparing for the next lesson). Increase distance when the student can perform parts of the tasks independently. The paraeducator knows him well enough to notice times he can be independent and when she needs to intervene. He is not fond of "sharing her", that is, when she helps other students. The teachers and the paraeducator need to sit down with the student and explain to him why she is no longer Velcro-attached to him. She can say, "My job is to help students learn. Your job is to follow Mrs. General Education Teacher’s directions and do the best you can."  They can have a signal, a gesture between them to indicate an urgent need for help. Provide positive feedback and praise as the time away from him increases and when he is more independent in doing his work. You can start with easy tasks. As he notices how successful he can be, it should raise his self-confidence and self-esteem.