Letter To Teachers
Every year, we start out the year with new teachers for Damien. He used to struggle with the change when he was younger, but he understands now that each year will be different. In order to assist both Damien and his teachers, I send a message to the teaching staff that will be in contact with Damien. Here is the letter I have sent out this year.
Good morning to you all. Damien is looking forward to having you all as teachers this year. Damien is a child with high functioning autism, and copes fairly well with his disability. However, there are times that he may have some difficulty. Therefore, I will give you some pointers that are specific to Damien:
1. Damien does not like to be touched. He says when people touch him, he feels like snakes are crawling all over him and he cannot concentrate.
2. Loud noises terrify Damien. The loud drone of people talking in hallways and classrooms are fine, but do make him nervous. However sudden booms, bangs, and even claps of thunder may cause him to scream, rock, or start biting himself. In order to calm Damien under these circumstances, he may need to be taken out of the room for a very short period of time.
3. Damien does not like to be in crowds or to be in close proximity to a group of people. He may seem a bit stand-offish under circumstances that require him to be in close proximity to others.
4. If there is a specific routine for the classroom, it may be helpful to have a checklist for Damien. He has a very slow processing speed. Therefore, by the time he remembers what he is to do when he first gets to class, the class may have moved on and left him behind. With a checklist, Damien will have little trouble keeping up with the class.
5. If there are scheduled changes to Damien’s routine (field trips, substitutes, etc.), please let Damien know in advance. He does not deal well with change and has difficulty concentrating when his routine has change. Furthermore, it will be very beneficial to tell any substitute that Damien does not deal well with change. Almost all problems with Damien in the past have occurred when there was a substitute. It may be helpful for substitutes to send Damien to content mastery during these times.
6. When Damien becomes frustrated, he is rarely a threat to others. However, he will hurt himself by either biting his arms, hitting himself in the head, or banging his head on the walls or furniture.
7. Damien has been diagnosed with petit mal seizures. However, we have not noticed any recently. According to his neurologist, Dr. Paul Brown, it is possible that Damien is still having seizures, but we are not seeing them. If Damien seems to be spacey or not paying attention. Check to see if his eyes are fixed on by snapping your fingers or clapping in front of his face. If he does not flinch, then he is having a seizure. Under these circumstances, check to see if he has wet himself, send him to the nurse, and have me or his father contacted immediately.
8. Eye contact – Damien tends to evade eye contact. This is common for children with autism, and it is something we have been working with him on since he was eighteen months old. We have not quite gotten him to where he keeps eye contact for extended periods yet. However, Damien is listening to you even though he may not be looking at you. To get him to look at you, you only have to say his name.
9. Gym – There may be difficulties with gym class for various reasons. Damien does have asthma and will not tell you if he is in need of his inhaler. If you notice his lips are blue, please send him to the nurses office for his treatment. This problem worsens during specific allergy seasons, one of which is in the fall. Damien also has fine motor difficulties. This means it takes longer for him to tie his shoes, button and unbutton his pants, and get dressed. This is why his IEP allows him additional time to get to gym and for his class after gym. Damien currently does not have his braces for his feet because he outgrew them. We are waiting for his new ones, and I will let you know when he has them. His braces also causes him to need additional time for suiting out and up for class. I will provide you with a list of workouts that Damien is not allowed to do per his orthopedist.
If there are any changes in medication and possible side effects that we must look out for, which could effect his behavior in the classroom, I will contact you immediately. If there is a problem with Damien in the classroom, it will be easier to contact me at this email address (unless #7 applies). I must check this address daily and do so at least 3-4 times a day. Damien and I are looking forward to a new year of school.
Pamela N. Brown