Teaching Children With Autism: 8 Essential Steps to Follow
Every child’s learning needs are unique, and studying for school is rarely a smooth sail for everybody. We all remember the trials and tribulations of school, specific difficulties with school work, and social pressures from both teachers and classmates. Having proper guidance both at home and at school is very important in a child’s development, especially when a child struggles with mental health obstacles, including ADHD, anxiety, or autism.
Teachers, parents, and tutors have to understand that there are specific methods of teaching children suffering from different mental illnesses. However, autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, depending on its severity, requires extra guidance and support. As both teachers and parents, it’s vital that we understand the needs of a child with autism, so we can show up for them and support them in a better way. Here at Da Vinci, we are committed to helping children with autism learn under the best conditions possible.
A healthy support system for a child suffering from autism can mean the world to them, especially at school. Teachers who have a clear understanding of what ASD is can better cater to children’s needs and even make the lessons and studying seem more interesting and fun. Autism isn’t that common, however, the CDC reported that it can occur in around 1 in 59 children, so even if you don’t have a child with autism in your classroom now, chances are you might at some point in the future.
What is autism?
ASD is a complex developmental disability that impacts a person’s emotional, social, and communication skills. Autism is usually detected in early childhood and its symptoms and severity vary from person to person. Children with ASD have certain behavioral patterns that make it hard for them to communicate clearly and interact with others, which greatly impacts their day-to-day activities, including learning, focusing, and thinking. These, along with other symptoms, such as trouble understanding others, having trouble adapting to new situations, and difficulty expressing their needs, are also common with ASD.
How can teachers better show up for children with ASD?
There are a few key strategies for teaching children with autism that teachers can incorporate into their teaching style. Furthermore, even parents and private tutors can benefit from reviewing this list of key tips on how to work with children suffering from autism spectrum disorder.
1. Create a safe environment
Creating a safe environment for children with autism to feel more comfortable should be the first step teachers should take to improve their bond and connection with autistic children. A safe space where there is no judgment is very important for a child suffering from ASD, and working with a trustworthy person can feel very comfortable for them.
2. Design a structured curriculum
A structured curriculum can ease the learning process for children with ASD. Knowing the exact amount of schoolwork that needs to be done, for how long and possibly, what comes next, can create a sense of stability in a child’s mind. Just make sure to take it slow and easy, and give praise for their progress.
3. Develop a routine
Most children are bored with routine, but children with autism actually find comfort in it. Developing a routine can help children not only learn, but also improve many areas of their lives, such as time- and self-management. Keep in mind not to deviate too much from a routine once it’s established, as ASD kids have trouble with drastic or sudden changes.
4. Use visuals
Using visuals can enhance the learning process of children suffering from autism. You can motivate children to finish their tasks by introducing if/then cards. For example, if a student stops mid-task, you can show them the card on which the task and reward are illustrated on separate sides, to motivate them to finish. If you finish this, you get to enjoy this.
5. Be aware of sensory issues
Most children with ASD are either over-or under-reactive to sensory stimuli. Keep in mind that certain students might be bothered by certain smells or a certain type of lighting or sound. These can all be potential triggers and can lead to extreme reactions, so make sure to provide sensory tools to help reduce their stress levels, and if possible, avoid situations that can trigger them.
6. Keep it simple
Don’t overcomplicate lessons and keep your communication direct and simple. The last thing you’ll want is to stress an autistic child by not giving clear and concise instructions. Kids with ASD can get easily overwhelmed, so make sure you communicate clearly and explain tasks multiple times if something is unclear.
7. Take breaks
No one likes long lessons and never-ending learning sessions. Make sure to take breaks, and if possible, grab some fresh air, too. A clear mind does wonders not just for children suffering from autism, but for every child, as well as for the teacher. Consider studying sessions and breaks as equally important.
8. Encourage social interactions
A child with autism might not be interested in social interactions, however, you need to encourage them to make friends and help them develop social skills. Moreover, you also need to encourage the other students to accept children suffering from mental health issues, to be more empathetic towards them, and genuinely be their friend and help them out.
Teaching children with autism is not easy, but it is doable. All you need is patience and a solid plan that incorporates all the tips discussed above, and you should be fine. Each child is different, so not everything will work with every child the same way, but by getting to know them and actually becoming their friend, you have a great chance of helping them study efficiently.
Here at Da Vinci, we’re experts at tutoring children with different mental health issues, including ASD. If you’re a parent who’s looking for highly personalized studying sessions for your child, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Our teachers can’t wait to meet new students and embark on new learning journeys.