According to the National Autistic Society, autism is a disability that affects the way that people communicate and relate to those around them. It is common for these individuals to have learning disabilities and/or developmental disorders as well.
People who teach these special individuals may need to make use of alternative methods of instruction. Here are some tips for teaching children with autism.
Each Student Is Different
There is a range of levels of autism that a child may have, and some high-functioning students have symptoms that are less severe than others. Additionally, each student may exhibit different symptoms. While some children may be able to speak with little trouble, others may never develop spoken language. As such, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to teaching autistic students. Teachers are likely to need to create different methods for helping each of their students, and these methods are generally discovered and developed as instructors get to know them.
Communication Issues Are Common
One of the major hallmarks of autism is trouble communicating. To ensure that students are learning and to keep control of a classroom, teachers will need to try a range of communication methods. It’s also important to understand that apparently willful students may not comprehend instructions, and some children will have meltdowns if they feel that they are not being understood or are unable to express themselves. Teachers should keep in mind that autistic children are dealing with obstacles in communication all the time and that students may not be intending to disrupt a classroom.
Keep Instructions Simple
Since communication does tend to be a hurdle for autistic students, teachers should strive to make instructions simple. In many cases, breaking a task down into simple steps can help a student understand what they are expected to do. Further, taking things step by step can keep children from feeling overwhelmed. When giving instructions, it may be necessary to repeat them, but make sure repetitions are short and identical. Saying the same thing in a different way can sometimes make it more difficult for autistic children to understand what they are being told.
Take Advantage of Images
While verbal communication is often a huge hurdle for autistic children, they frequently do much better with images. Children who are unable to communicate with words will often use pictures to tell teachers and family members what they are trying to say. Using the same image for the same process, such as showing a child a picture of a bathroom every time a student needs to go, can help cement an image and its meaning in a student’s head. However, be sure to use simple images because children may start focusing on the background instead of the main object in a picture.
Don’t Do Everything For Students
While children with autism normally have learning disabilities, it does not mean that they cannot learn to do many tasks, including complicated ones. They just may take longer than other students to do so. Therefore, teachers should set goals for students and focus on getting children to tackle certain tasks, such as learning how to tie their shoes or collecting their supplies at the beginning of class. It may be tempting to do everything for a child who is struggling, but it is often better for students to learn to do basic tasks for themselves. Additionally, autistic students can learn far more than people expect when they are given time and the right instructions.
If someone is interested in a degree in teaching special needs students, it’s a good idea to understand how to communicate with and relate to autistic individuals. Trying a variety of communication methods is often essential when teaching autistic children.