Micah's story

Micah is a conscientious Year 10 student who is highly motivated, likes to follow rules and has several friends at school. Micah was diagnosed with autism in primary school and has since been supported by an occupational therapist and a speech pathologist. He performs well in many subjects and particularly enjoys reading, but his skills and knowledge in other areas can vary considerably. 

Micah can easily lose focus and become distracted by noise and other students. He gets particularly distracted during whole class discussions, where he loses his patience and interrupts frequently with questions, which are not always relevant to the learning content. This often ends with other students getting distracted or visibly annoyed with Micah. 

Students walking to school.

1. What are Micah's strengths and what has been helpful so far?

Micah's strengths:

  • Micah is highly motivated and likes to follow rules.
  • Micah performs well in many subjects.
  • Micah has access to external providers (occupational therapist and speech pathologist).
  • Micah is keen to follow the rules.
  • Micah has demonstrated an aptitude with reading.
  • Micah has a supportive family.

What has been helpful:

  • Micah responds well to clear instructions.
  • Micah responds well to visual support and social stories.
  • Micah works well with one-on-one support. 

What has not been helpful:

  • Long periods of focused work without movement breaks.
  • Micah is less likely to stay on-task in large groups, particularly during long discussions.
  • Changes to routine (for example;  incursions he hasn’t prepared for well). 

2. What is the goal and why is it important?

The goal:

The overall goal for Micah is to learn new social skills that can help him communicate and participate without interrupting large group or whole school discussions. To begin with, Micah’s English teacher will use the introduction of a short chapter book that Micah has shown interest in to set a short daily group discussion of each chapter. 

She will explicitly teach Micah about effective communication and conflict resolution. These goals may be developed into growth goals as part of the collaborative curriculum planning process and included in Micah’s personalised learning and support.

Why:

Social skills (including effective communication and conflict resolution) are essential learning skills for Micah’s learning and wellbeing, and future autonomy and independence.

Personalised learning and support will ensure Micah enjoys a rigorous and meaningful education.

3. What evidence-based strategies can be used to reach the goal?

Micah’s English teacher used the high school students with autism guide to learn more about evidence-based strategies and resources. After using this resource, Micah’s English teacher has identified some strategies that can be trialed in her classroom to build on Micah’s existing strengths and help her achieve the desired goals:

Strengths

  • Micah is highly motivated and likes to follow rules.
  • Micah responds well to clear instructions.
  • Micah responds well to visual support and social stories.
  • Micah works well with one-on-one support. 

Strategy

  • Micah’s English teacher will provide the class a list of questions from each chapter and specific roles to some students in groups of 8-10 students (for example; facilitator, recorder, reporter, etc.). Each student who wants to give an answer will be given a set amount of time. Micah will be asked to be the timekeeper to help him stay on task and to give him the opportunity to practise waiting. 
  • Micah and his teacher will develop a social story to share with the class to describe the group activity, the rules and the expected behaviours (for example; listening, waiting and respecting each other’s opinions). 
  • Each group will develop simple visual cues to remind all students to ‘listen’, ‘show interest’,  ‘wait’ for their turn or ‘ask’ for a break.
  • Micah’s teacher will sit in Micah’s group initially to provide Micah one-on-one support timekeeping and speaking (when it is his turn) and to demonstrate the communication behaviours expected from the group.
  • Micah’s teacher will provide discreet prompts such as placing a hand on Micah’s desk or beside where he is sitting if he’s getting distracted or asks a question or makes a comment out of turn.
  • Movement breaks before and after the activity will be established.
  • Later in the week, opportunities to practice the skills in less structured activities will be introduced. The visual cues will continue being used by all students.  

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Strengths

  • Micah has a supportive family.

Strategy

  • The social story will be shared with Micah’s teachers to develop a shared understanding of the goal and strategies in place.
  • A copy of the story and visual cues will also be shared with the family for extended practise of the target social skills at home and outside of school.