Now that we have established the core strategy of a class schedule or agenda as an essential starting point, let’s extend our focus to a companion strategy. A schedule within a schedule has many names. For our purposes, we will call this sub strategy “mini-maps”.
A mini-map takes a piece of the schedule and breaks it down even further. The schedule guides you from one major activity to another, while the mini-map clarifies the smaller steps within that activity. This can be especially helpful to decrease frustration associated with academic tasks, but can be useful for any chunk of time that presents a challenge.
Some persons with Asperger’s have difficulty with experiences that are too sensory in one way or another. Going to P.E. or taking a bath/shower can be broken down into smaller steps so that an individual can walk through these difficult experiences with a guide and a clear understanding that there is an end in sight.
For now, let’s focus on mini-maps as they relate to academic endeavors. Often, teachers note that a common antecedent or trigger to behavioral difficulties is the presentation of academic tasks. The behaviors can range from a verbal protest to a meltdown when students feel overwhelmed by school work.
The first question to ask, of course, is what is there about the work that makes the student feel so overwhelmed? Does the page look too busy? Is too much handwriting involved? Are there too many problems? Is it too difficult or too easy? In other blogs on our “Education: K-12” section, we discuss ways to adjust the format and/or content of academic tasks to increase student success.
The schedule says it is time for math. The student struggles consistently with math and typically puts his head down and produces little or no work. But with a mini-map, the student feels more able to get started and move forward.
The mini-map is often a small checklist and can be decorated with a student interest to increase focus and motivation. This checklist then breaks down the expectations during math into smaller chunks. The mini-map or checklist might say something like this:
- Warm up activity ____
- Test Review ____
- Do problems 3-10 ____
- Discuss with partner ____
Next: 5 minute break
This mini-map often reduces the anxiety associated with challenging academics so that the student is more likely to get started and even more likely to continue, especially if there is a motivator at the end of the work. Try it and see if there is some progress in dealing with work avoidance. The next blog in this series explores revisions to this strategy to increase its effectiveness even more.
By Lisa Rogers
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