Autism rates among children continue to grow, with 1 out of 100 children now diagnosed with autism. Each year more and more parents receive this sobering news. But what next? What can we do?
Luckily, the kids are amazing. Autism is just one aspect of their complex and beautiful beings. Like all children, children with autism need attention and guidance, love, and support.
What are some of the best teaching tips for autistic children? Keep reading for the best advice from our team of child therapists and teachers.
1. Establish Reasonable Expectations and Goals
Establishing reasonable expectations and goals is paramount when teaching children with autism, as they often need support to meet even basic everyday targets. Setting ambitious yet achievable goals can help to build self-worth and encourage independence. Start small and break down major goals into step-by-step tasks that can be accomplished with patience and support.
2. Develop Structured Routines
Structured routines can be a powerful tool for teaching children with different types of autism. To start, create a daily schedule and post it in a visible location for the child to refer to. Plan for transitions between activities, including providing cue cards to explain the steps involved in an activity.
Allow time for extra sensory breaks or activities that the child enjoys and that allow movement. To encourage positive behavior, provide positive reinforcement and social cues like facial expressions and body language.
3. Employ Visual Aids and Visual Structures
Visuals can provide a sense of order and structure to the classroom and help generalize abstract concepts. Consistently use visuals to create a routine that serves as an anchor point for the student.
Comic strips or two-dimensional drawings are extremely helpful in demonstrating common issues or communicating stories. Actual objects and photographs can be used as cues to support learning and academic tasks. Some other visual strategies that might be beneficial include picture schedules, calendars, and charting pro-social behaviors.
4. Get Creative With Rewards
Reinforcement and reward systems have been found to be very successful in teaching young children. This can include providing tangible rewards that are individualized for each child, such as a toy or piece of candy, or verbal reinforcements like verbal praise or high-fives. Rewards such as these allow the child to anticipate a reward and work towards it, providing a sense of accomplishment.
5. Provide Opportunities For Social Interaction
Teachers need to make social interaction fun and interesting. Developing activities that involve collaboration with peers is important. Some activities involving social interaction that has been successful for teachers include: setting up physical space to bring peers together, breaking into small groups, and using positive reinforcement strategies.
Create activities that involve working together towards a common goal, games, art projects, and imaginative play. Teaching social skills such as eye contact, mirroring, responding to others’ ideas, and finding common interests also helps create a safe and supportive learning environment.
During social interaction, make sure to impose safety. Some children are becoming violent when they do not get what they want. Make sure to provide bite resistant arm guards that the kids can use.
Teaching Children With Autism
Teaching children with autism is one of the most rewarding and challenging tasks for any educator. By implementing the tips outlined in this article, educators can effectively and successfully incorporate these students into their classrooms.
However, each student is unique, and no two autism learners are the same – if you need extra guidance, look for resources to help you succeed!
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