Do you have a student with autism in your classroom this year? Whether you are already a teacher or just starting out, I have some very useful tips on how to help your student become successful in your classroom.
If you're a parent of an autistic child and you're reading this then please feel free to give this a share with your child's teacher as it may help with the understanding and awareness teachers may not have.
Students with autism have a huge variety of abilities and challenges. Here are strategies that can help you succeed when teaching your student who's autistic.
Reduce Sensory Overload
Arrange your classroom and setting to reduce distractions, make as many adjustments as possible.
Many children with autism tend to tune out of focus when there's too much setting around the room, for example, too much colourful pictures can make them feel overwhelmed and distracted.
Sounds, smells and sights. Are their usually noisy corridors, flickering lights or clicking noises? You could try turning off as little lights as possible to reduce brightness. Moving a noisy neighbour may help as it can normally encourage behaviour difficulties or add stress. Playing mellow music in the background may help reduce level of noise too. These are many ideas that should help.
Stick to more structured routines
Scheduling activities by making a plan or rota will help find it more comforting for your pupil to know what they have planned for the day. (Including when to have a break or playtime).
Use a visual timetable you can stick to the wall or a written version. Most schools probably have planners to arrange their lessons of the day. Although many autistic pupils may find it easier without their own planner and have their teacher or Learner support assistant as a reminder. That way they don't become stressed when dealt with it on their own.
Use visual examples and demonstrations
Try using pictures or write instructions on the board to remind as that will appeal to them more rather than tell them once and then they may forget. Difficulty processing information is often a challenge for students with autism. Visual reminders are always useful.
Talk less and give fewer worded instructions
Always make sure you pause for processing time. Some students may need as long as 30 seconds or more to process your instructions. Talking too much, particularly when a student is already upset, may increase anxiety or trigger a meltdown.
Use simple wording
Always avoid metaphors and sarcasm. "It's raining hard outside." is better than saying "It's raining cats and dogs." You may find your student looking outside for cats and dogs. Students with autism often take things quite literally.
Allow more breaks
Your student may need break time in their routine. Even five minutes in a quiet place, a walk up and down the hall, or listening to soft music can make a big difference, help him or her be ready to learn and help avoid meltdowns.
Special interests can be used to motivate your student
If your student is a massive fan of planes, you may have him or her adding and subtracting Planes. or measure how far from take-off to landing.
It's the little things that make teaching those with autism a little easier. Although I'm no expert. Autism is growing in awareness, it's important that it should be taught and teachers made more aware. Training teachers about autism will improve their awareness and understanding of how to address a situation or help make things easier.