Three Tips for Helping Your Autistic Child Thrive
Know How Autism Impacts Learning
- Delayed language development
- Difficulty paying attention to the people around them
- A tendency to focus more on details and miss the “big picture,” both in general and in lessons or stories
- Struggles with organization, focus, attention, time management, and or emotional regulation
- Developing skills at a different rate or in a different order than their peers
- Struggling with social skills and communication
- Being generally overstimulated by the environment
Create an Optimal Learning Environment
Luckily, you can take some pretty simple steps to create a learning environment that offers more support for children with autism.
Consider the following:
- Keep to a structure and regular routine as much as possible
- Pair kids on the spectrum with good role models
- Keep the environment as calm and positive as possible
- Try to keep materials and items contained (cupboards, drawers, etc.) unless in-use so the atmosphere is relatively clutter-free
- Try to keep shapes, colors, and designs minimal and subtle where possible
- Create a safe, comfortable, quiet zone away from all the action
- Try to arrange the classroom facing away from outside distractions/windows if possible
An optimal environment for children on the spectrum is most likely optimal for all students! After all, minimizing distractions and making everyone feel safe and supported is something everyone can appreciate.
Take it From the Experts
As a parent, you’re an expert on your child. And luckily, you can add to your expertise every day! There are tons of expert-recommended strategies for teaching children with autism, and you can experiment with them to find the best and most beneficial system for your family.
Here are a few tips from the experts:
- Use praise to reinforce positive behavior–don’t forget to be specific!
- Try to model appropriate behavior at all times
- Make time for all students to work on their social skills
- Let autistic students know if there will be changes to routines
- Pay special attention to whether children with autism are becoming isolated–if so, try to create situations for inclusion
- Encourage work in small groups and pairs
- Pair your students on the spectrum with any student who is a positive role model–this benefits both students!
- Consider classroom or environmental changes that make children on the spectrum feel more welcome, supported, and comfortable. Think: minimizing distractions, clutter, unpredictability, and overwhelm
- Familiarize yourself with the typical characteristics of autism
- Foster a welcoming, positive, supportive environment for all students, with particular emphasis on inclusion and understanding
Remember, minor changes to your classroom, environment, or teaching style can make a big difference for all the kids in your class!
Three Tips for Teaching Autistic Students: Conclusion
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