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  • cemilie
  • Newgookin

    • 2

    • November 28, 2019, 06:03:44 pm
    • Korea
Autistic 4 Year Old Boy, How can I help him?
« on: March 21, 2021, 05:17:43 pm »
Hi everyone,

I've seen a few posts on here about teaching children on the spectrum, but they've all been geared towards middle or elementary school children. I work at a kindergarten and we've just gotten our new group of kids for the semester.

 I have a 4 year old boy who seems to be displaying signs of autism, although I'm not qualified to make any sort of diagnosis. He's extremely disruptive and refuses to participate in any activities. He often becomes quite frustrated and emotionally upset when asked to clean up toys he's playing with. He doesn't make eye contact, and does not respond when his name is called. He has an obsession with the color red and becomes aggravated if another student is playing with red toys and won't give them to him. He cries a lot and rolls around on the floor when he doesn't want to do something. By the end of the day he is often so exhausted that he falls asleep at his table, or on the floor. He is also unable to pull up his own pants, which I've read is also a possible sign of a developmental delay.

His parents have been notified but are choosing to ignore the problem, and my boss only sees dollar signs when it comes to these kids so it appears that I will probably have this boy in my class for the next year.

It's heart breaking to see him in so much distress every day and I don't know how to help him. At this point I'm not sure the goal is to really teach him English, but to make him feel comfortable and to stop the constant tantrums. I'm unable to teach the rest of my students because I'm so worried about upsetting him.

Does anyone have any advice? The only time he ever seems to be happy is when he's playing with his little red blocks. Should I just let him sit on the mat and play all day? I'm really at a loss. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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Re: Autistic 4 Year Old Boy, How can I help him?
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2021, 08:14:36 am »
Honestly, I think that children with mental disabilities should not be required to learn a second language until well after their L1 has been firmly established.
Controlling code-switching behaviour can become a nightmare later on, and it really just ends up confusing and hindering their communication skills.
Personally, I would do my best to provide a safe space for the child, reduce stress triggers to the best of your abilities, and focus on teaching English to the kids who it would actually benefit from it.

   Special needs students here in Korea often fall through the cracks, and its heart-breaking to see students denied the help they clearly need because their relatives don't want to admit that the extra help is needed, but as a NET, we neither have the training, time, or support needed to actually do something. In some memorable cases, we can actually be punished for making the effort. On the bright side, special education in Korea has been making huge strides forward over the last decade or so. I have seen special needs kids go from being shunted to the back of the class and told to just be quiet to the implementation of tailored programmes and the introduction of qualified care givers to assist them in the classroom. I think that despite the social stigma that mental disabilities still carry, Korea is well on the way to catching up with the West in taking care of its more vulnerable demographics.

Re: Autistic 4 Year Old Boy, How can I help him?
« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2021, 11:07:46 am »
If you don't have the cooperation of his parents or your bosses than just focus on keeping him safe first and foremost and happy if possible. This isn't within your remit or capability to fix because it's a structural problem.

I had a girl far along the spectrum in my first year who was a disruptive force in the classroom. I assumed she wasn't getting anything from class but it turned out she was actually pretty good at English and studied it on her own with a computer (maybe some specialist software?) She just couldn't handle social interactions. My point is maybe your student will focus entirely on his blocks but it may also be a way for him to feel safe and focused while absorbing some of the other things happening in the classroom.