Autism is a disorder that affects at least one out of every 40 children. What are some things to consider when working with individuals on the autism spectrum? These 30 tips should help you make accommodations for your students, and potentially save them from social consequences like self-injury or bullying.
The “challenges teachers face with autistic students” is a topic that has been discussed a lot recently. There are so many different things to consider when dealing with an autistic student in the classroom.
Since autism is on the rise (1 in 43 people are now estimated to have autism), and since education is continuously changing, more and more instructors are allowing children on the autistic spectrum to attend their classes. Teaching a kid with autism may be challenging, but it can also be one of the most fulfilling experiences in a teacher’s career. Here are 30 facts concerning autism in the classroom that all instructors should be aware of.
1. If you’ve met one autistic kid, you’ve met one autistic child
As the common saying goes, “If you’ve met one autistic kid, you’ve met one autistic child.” It is important for teachers to remember that all children on the autism spectrum are unique, and what defines one may not define another. While some autistic children are non-verbal, others have an unbelievable talent for things like music and art.
2. A youngster with autism may advance along the spectrum.
As a teacher, you’ll probably encounter a lot of thorough and academically sound paperwork supporting the autism diagnosis of your pupil. But keep in mind that a youngster shouldn’t be classified based on where he falls on the spectrum. Even low functioning students may advance on the spectrum with the right treatment.
3. Children with autism have both skills and shortcomings, just like normal children.
Those on the autism spectrum have their own skills and shortcomings, just like any other youngster in a classroom. Some people may be great at memory but have trouble reading and phonetically decoding words. Teachers need to be ready for children to struggle in different ways with different topics (or not at all).
4. Keep the patterns in mind.
Repetition and regularity seem to be quite beneficial for kids on the autistic spectrum. By learning the child’s schedule and doing their best to keep to it, teachers may make a student’s time at school as stress-free as possible. It’s possible that doing so will stop a tantrum, a breakdown, and unneeded tension. Forming a schedule in your classroom could be a good idea since studies have shown that all kids, not just those with autism spectrum disorders benefit from consistency.
5. Know what sensory difficulties are, why they could occur, and how to deal with them.
When you have sensory problems, you usually aren’t even aware of them. You lower the volume if the music is too loud, and you take off your sweatshirt if it’s too warm. Children with autism spectrum disorders, however, cannot manage sensory challenges like neurotypical individuals because their senses have a tendency to give them false information. Teachers should educate themselves on sensory difficulties and the types of sensory issues they can experience in the classroom before allowing an autistic kid into the classroom.
6. Learn to tolerate the flapping, pacing, and rocking.
Children with autism spectrum disorders typically engage in stimming activities. These actions might involve flapping their hands, pacing, twirling, or rocking back and forth. Teachers would do well to understand that although such stimming practices might be distracting to both the instructor and other children, they are not intended to be distractions. Instead, the youngster takes solace in the pattern’s repetition.
7. Give directions in the fewest terms possible.
Typically, autistic children have difficulty comprehending spoken instructions. Use as few words as you can while delivering instructions to help the autistic youngster comprehend them more quickly. If required, offer the autistic youngster different instructions.
8. Be ready to offer instructions in a variety of ways.
On a similar line, instructors would need to devise a variety of methods for giving instructions. For a youngster with autism who struggles to understand vocal instructions, using visual aids and/or written instructions in a few simple stages may prove to be quite beneficial.
9. Children with autism spectrum disorders have a tough time in social interactions.
autism spectrum disorder makes it difficult for children to understand social signs, which may make them and their classmates feel uncomfortable and confused. By paying close attention to the social environment in their classroom and, when required, serving as an example for everyone, teachers may assist.
10. Never be reluctant to devote time to training highly precise social skills and norms.
If required, instructors shouldn’t be reluctant to spend time teaching an autistic pupil extremely particular social norms and abilities. Examples may include how to ask a neighbor for a pencil sharpener, wait in line for the slide, or how to congratulate the winning dodgeball team.
11. Do not take the offensive remarks personally.
Because they often lack social skills, children with autism might say things that are offensive or inappropriate. It’s important for teachers to be ready to hear such nasty remarks. Teachers should not take the remarks personally but instead have the courage to set an example by speaking words of appreciation and encouragement.
12. Keep changes from shocking your autistic pupils.
Children with autism benefit much from regularity, as was already noted. Even a little deviation from that pattern, which other kids would find amusing, might have disastrous consequences. Simply inform the autistic student when a change in routine is anticipated or likely to occur so that she may start to be ready. Changes in seating arrangements, fire drills, or field trips are a few examples of change.
13. Children with autism spectrum disorders sometimes struggle with their motor abilities.
Children who have autism often struggle with their motor abilities. For those pupils in the classroom who have autism, it may be advantageous for instructors to think about alternatives to writing by hand, such as an iPad or laptop.
14. Recognize that kids with autism need more time to comprehend words.
The fact that autistic children need extra time to comprehend language is maybe one of the most crucial things for all instructors to be aware of in the classroom. After offering spoken instructions, if you are met with a blank face, know that the youngster is probably still digesting. Repeat the instructions using the same phrases to assist him. Changing the phrases will just force him to restart his procedure.
15. Even though he is unable to express them verbally, a youngster with autism has a lot of thoughts and views.
Despite the fact that some autistic children are nonverbal, they do have things to say. You should anticipate that your autistic kids will have just as many ideas and views as any other student, albeit you may need to promote idea sharing in a different way.
16. A kid with autism cannot be spoken to in the same manner as a normal youngster.
While you may use sarcasm, idioms, or a loud voice to interact with other kids, remember that an autistic child will not be affected in the same way by these types of communication techniques. A youngster with autism also won’t comprehend comparisons to siblings or other students, as well as when you bring up irrelevant or distant situations. In the best case situation, these communication methods are unclear. At worst, they’re frightful.
17. Use encouragement rather than punishment.
Punishment is as ineffective when used on a kid who is on the autistic spectrum as some communication techniques are. positive reinforcement works considerably better on autistic children than negative punishment, who often misinterpret it. Discuss the most effective forms of punishment and discipline with the child’s parents.
18. Utilize downtime as a motivator.
As was already explained, a youngster on the autism spectrum has overactive senses that provide him unreliable information. This is very taxing, as you can surely understand. Allow a kid with autism the benefit of downtime when she has surpassed the benchmarks established for her. This may be as easy as spending ten minutes reading in a corner with headphones on. Allow the kid to unwind.
19. Give an autistic youngster time and space to govern their own behavior.
It’s not even necessary to constantly see that time spent reading in a corner with headphones on as a reward. In fact, a teacher could discover that giving the student frequent downtime improves the learning environment for everyone.
20. Students with autism spectrum disorders have a wide range of hobbies.
autism spectrum disorder is often seen in students’ unique hobbies (read: obsessions). Although they are not always required, instructors might utilize these passions as a motivating factor in the classroom. For instance, giving a youngster computer time as a reward might be quite helpful if they have a keen interest in computers. When appropriate, instructors could also find it useful to make connections between what the students are learning and their interests.
21. Even amid the “worst” conduct, maintain your composure.
It’s crucial to keep in mind that kids with autism spectrum disorders don’t often break down in order to generate a commotion. Instead, they lose it because that’s the only thing they can do since all of their senses are in disarray. The greatest thing for you to do as a teacher is to continue to be a reassuring and encouraging presence. The youngster doesn’t need an anxious or irate instructor to add to the fearful experience of the world during a meltdown.
22. Speak truthfully.
It is ideal for autistic children if the instructor uses concrete language since it takes them longer to digest verbal information. Without using similes, metaphors, or idioms, explain your meaning to the youngster clearly.
23. Whenever possible, stay away from idioms.
Common expressions like “Go on a wild goose chase,” “Give someone the cold shoulder,” and “Get a taste of your own medicine” might be difficult for children on the autistic spectrum to grasp. If teachers only avoided them, confusion would be reduced.
24. Give your autistic pupils options that are obvious.
Clear options are advantageous for all kids, even those with autism spectrum disorders. Avoid asking questions with open-ended answers such, “What game would you want to play during recess today?” Ask instead, “Would you want to play Capture the Flag or Sharks and Minnows?” Such unambiguous options promote quicker decision-making, fewer conflicts, and a stronger feeling of community in the classroom.
25. Include images and illustrations of final products.
Students on the autism spectrum have difficulty comprehending anything that is not literal, as was previously noted. They also digest information more slowly. The instructor may find it beneficial to provide pupils a sample of a completed project before they begin their own efforts. This gives the kids a distinct idea of what they are aiming towards.
26. Usually, abrupt behavioral changes indicate anxiousness.
Being autistic means that your sensory system continuously floods you with information, some of which may or may not be true. If your autistic student suddenly changes their conduct, you should be aware that it is probably not a matter of them choosing to behave inappropriately in order to get attention or amusement. Instead, something in the surroundings can be the cause of his or her fear.
27. Be mindful that a youngster with autism may find your classroom décor to be too stimulating.
Today’s classrooms often include a variety of colors and textures. While the décor may seem amusing to you, a student on the autistic spectrum may have sensory issues due to the abundance of bright colors and the lack of any places for their eyes to rest. Consider reducing the decor’s ornamentation, using softer hues, and adding a spot for kids to rest their eyes (perhaps near the front of the classroom). In fact, you’ll probably discover that all of your kids will benefit from a less dynamic classroom.
28. During free time and recess, keep an eye on the youngster.
A student on the autism spectrum needs the opportunity to interact with others during downtime like lunch and recess, just like any other kid. The kid, as well as very definitely their parents, would value an additional set of eyes being kept out to make sure that these social occasions are positive and aren’t too demanding on the student or his or her friends.
29. Be aware that for a youngster with autism, repeated movements are comforting.
We’ve previously spoken about the behavior known as “stimming,” which is a rhythmic motion used by autistic children to calm themselves down. But repetition may be used for purposes other than stimming to induce calmness. Instead, by adhering to a schedule (for the day, for changing topics, for getting ready for lunch, etc.) instructors may promote calmness among all kids.
30. Provide whatever organizational assistance required.
A skill that should be taught is organization. While many kids struggle to be tidy and organized, instructors may discover that their autistic pupils struggle with this particularly. Teachers may help students by guiding them through the unpacking, transitioning, and packing up phases until they have ingrained these phases into their daily habit. Regular desk inspections are also advantageous since they teach kids that maintaining order and cleanliness in their areas is expected of them.
31. Love your autistic student like you would any other kid in your class.
Last but not least, kids with autism spectrum disorders are first and foremost kids. They’re charming, humorous, and loving, and they’ll win your heart. As you would any other kid in your classroom, show your autistic children the same respect.
The “20 classroom modifications for students with autism.” is a list of 20 things that teachers can do to make the classroom more accessible for students with autism.
- how to keep an autistic child focused in the classroom
- how to support a child with autism in the classroom pdf
- signs of autism in the classroom
- inclusion of students with autism in the general education classroom
- strategies for teaching students with autism based on research
Janice is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Special Education. She also holds a Master of Science in Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) from Queen’s University, Belfast. She has worked with and case managed children and youth with autism and other intellectual and/or developmental disabilities in home and residential setting since 2013.