How do you teach students with autism? Here are 5 ways!
Autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a lifelong learning and development disorder that affects 1 in every 59 children according to Autism Speaks. This neurodevelopmental disorder is characterised by impaired social functioning as well as communication disturbances. Typically, signs of autism surface during the early childhood years. It could also persist and interfere with one’s communication abilities and daily life.
Some ways in which autism could interfere with one’s life include:
- Being unable to emotionally connect with peers
- Difficulty expressing emotions
- Inability to seek emotional comfort from others
- Being unable to hold a proper conversation
In order for a child to develop his academic skills in school, it is important for teachers and parents to create a safe and nurturing environment for them to grow and develop at their own pace in school and at home. Here are 5 tips to make teaching autistic children more effective.
1. Parents and Teachers Have to Work Together
To make sure a child with autism is able to discover his/her fullest potential both in his/her home and at school, it is important for both parents and teachers to communicate openly to understand the child’s condition and find the best solution to help the child excel. Both parties would be able to get a clearer understanding of how a child learns by communicating efficiently and effectively.
2. Recognise the Child’s Strengths and Weaknesses and Address Them Accordingly
Every child has his/her own strengths and weaknesses. It’s essential for both parents and teachers to be aware of them.
Tap on your child’s strengths, praise them and reward the child when he/she succeeds or overcomes challenges. This could instil a sense of accomplishment and confidence. It also helps a child build up their confidence.
For instance, if a child with autism is able to solve a complex mathematical equation, praise him for his competence and encourage him to maintain this positive learning attitude.
On the other hand, when a child shows weakness in completing a task, assist them by providing alternative solutions or break the task down into a more manageable size. Avoid getting angry, confrontational or criticising the child, as this might cause them to feel frazzled. Instead, explain the solutions in a calm manner. Constructive feedback would enhance a child’s self-awareness.
3. Follow the Child’s Interest
As much as possible, try to teach based on topics that your child enjoys. Children with autism tend to respond better to teaching methods that include ideas and subjects that he/she is interested in. If your child is a fan of cars, try to incorporate those aspects of their life into the learning process.
Parents and teachers of the child would have to communicate openly about the child’s interest to ensure consistency in the teaching methods.
4. Provide Explicit and Direct Instructions into Manageable Chunks
All children, regardless of their abilities, get the best chance of success when they have a clear understanding of what is expected of them.
When giving a child some instructions to complete a task, try to break them down and relay the instructions in a succinct and direct manner. Be patient as the child may need instructions to be repeated throughout the task.
5. Set Short-Term Goals
Goal-setting is useful in ensuring children stay on track. Decide on goals, objectives and targets that are practical for the child at the current time. Set some short-term goals that can eventually help a child achieve his/her long-term goals.
Building a Nurturing Environment
Teaching a child with autism requires technique as well as strategy. It also isn’t a one-man performance. Parents and teachers must work together in order to give a child the best special needs education.