About Me

My photo
Orem, Utah, United States
My name is Annie Campbell and 9 years ago my son was diagnosed with Autism. Over the years of treatments, therapies and schools (with my son) I have learned countless techniques for dealing with children with special needs. Through my experience in primary, I have come up with some specific tips to create a happy atmosphere in church.
Powered by Blogger.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ups and downs

A friend of mine from one of Jackson's schools used to tell me that kids with Autism only behave in ways to get their needs met. So to remember that Jackson will have difficult behaviors but that he is only trying to tell you he needs something. It's our job to figure out what that is.

Recently I've had a reminder of this. I also think this concept can transfer to most kids. When kids, either my own or in my class, suddenly begin acting out, I try to step back from the situation and look at things objectively. What am I NOT doing that this child needs?

Sunday I realized I have been forgetting to observe positive behavior. Of course I have told them thanks for cleaning up and such but I had dramatically decreased the times I said thank you for having good listening ears or walking feet. I know a couple kids NEED this and when they are consistanly good I easily forget.

Thanks for everyone who reads and comments and I hope things are going well with all the parents and teachers! Good luck and let me know if I can help with anything!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Living with Autism

Right after my son was diagnosed with Autism, I began looking for hope. I read all kinds of books about "success" stories of Autism recovery. I didn't necessisarily care if my son was considered recovered, my hope was for him to be able to have a fullfilling life and that's all. Now 6 years later, he's definitely NOT what would be classified as recovered but he is able to go to school in a regular classroom and be an active participant in primary. He will always have Autism and it will always effect his life and how he sees the world.

Sunday, we had a reminder about that. Jackson woke up off. He was upset about everything. So I wasn't too surprised when the primary presidency came and got me out of my class to ask for help with him. Apparently he got upset when they tried to sing happy birthday to him and broke the pencil. He's usually so calm, it kinda freaked everyone out. I, however, have seen him turn "hulk" before so I wasn't really worried. He had calmed down so I told them to let him zone out and not to bring any attention to him for the rest of they day and to come get me if anything else happened. I'm trying to give him some space from me being a crazy over-protective mom. No 9 year old wants that hovering around them. Well, I thought everything went fine for the rest of sharing time but after church, we found out he yelled at his teacher etc. We talked through everything and he made amends as well as apologized but it hit me again. THIS IS MY LIFE. It will always be like this. He will do great for months and then one day he has had enough and blows up. I've always been told that Autism wasnt something he was going to out grow and I accepted that but Sunday was the first time I really came to the acceptance that there is no "finish line". He will always struggle holding his emotions together.

I guess my point is that sometimes when a child is being "difficult" that doesn't translate to naughty. The only thing you can do is be consistent and have an obscene amount of patience. Jackson wasn't trying to show off or just being difficult. His mind and body weren't in sync and he was struggling to keep it together.

I know how frustrating it can be sometimes. I also know how amazing it is when kids do something incredible. Keep that feeling with you so you are able to handle it when times get tough. Good luck to all you parents and teachers!

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Last Sunday, my husband and I taught an in service training for all primary workers on "How to create a happy and more productive class".  I was shocked with how many people came out!  Almost all primary workers from my ward as well as several primary presidencies from other wards were there!  We started by showing the Primary Angels DVD and then went onto other ideas and charts as well as anything tangible.  Everyone was incredibly receptive and excited about the information.  We ended with questions.  Finally after 2 hours, we finally had to just end it and say if anyone had any more questions to call us.  It was amazing to see how many people feel the same way about primary as I do!

Here are some charts I made for the meeting:  

This one can be used alone or with another for tracking a child's progress.  I use it as a game for my class.  I place star stickers on the squares that have prizes (i.e. choose a song, tell a story, choose a prize from our treasure box, choose a sticker) and when they reach the end, they get to choose a class treat!  The kids love it.  This pic is only 1/3 of the actual size.  Keep in mind when making this kind of chart to make it so the children will get a prize VERY easily for the first 2 months.  After that, move the timing to about every other week or so.

I use this chart as a visual reminder of how the kids are to behave.  If they need no reminders, they stay on green, one reminder is yellow and two or more is red.  I am always much more lenient in the beginning and after about a month or so I up my expectations.  For example, in the beginning I would consider asking a child to keep their shirt down and them listening to be fine.  After about a month or so (depending on the kids) I would consider having to ask them as a warning.  Make sure you make the requirements suitable for YOUR class.  Each child is different and its ok to have different expectations of each.

This chart is just the class rules.  Since the class I teach is young, I always try to add pics to help the kids understand and know what I mean.  By "Have good listening ears" I have a pic of ears.  Its an easy way for the kids to remember the rules.  I always make sure the kids know what is expected from them.  I have one child that his behaviors turned around just based on knowing the rules.  He is my biggest enforcer of them now.

Good Luck with your callings and let me know if I can help in ANY way!