How to Teach Students with Autism
There are challenges in teaching students with autism, but you can support them with the correct training. If you plan to become a trainer, you may have students with ASD. It can be beneficial for teachers to upgrade their skills and learn how to teach students with Autism and SENs.
What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
People with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have a neurological condition affecting their behaviour, social skills, and communication ability. Social isolation, repetitive habits or hobbies, trouble with verbal and nonverbal communication, and sensory sensitivity are all typical signs of ASD.
Effective teaching strategies tailored to individual strengths and needs can help learners with ASD in their learning. The idea of special education needs CPDs is to share our knowledge to improve your competence. The hope is to improve outcomes for people of any age with ASD and help them thrive.
Common types of Autism
There are five significant types of autism which include:
- Asperger's syndrome: Individuals with Asperger's syndrome usually struggle to communicate and engage with others. They also exhibit repetitive and restrictive behaviour patterns.
- Rett syndrome: A rare genetic neurological disorder that primarily affects girls and leads to developmental and cognitive impairments.
- Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD): This rare neurological condition typically affects young children. CDD leads to losing previously acquired skills and abilities from age 3 to 10.
- Kanner's syndrome: Kanner's syndrome, also known as Classic Autism, affects communication and behaviour. Through early childhood, the child has emotional and social interaction challenges.
- Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD): It is an umbrella term used to describe a group of developmental disorders. The most common symptoms are challenges in social and language development.
Signs and Symptoms of ASD
The best people who can spot signs of Autism spectrum disorders are the parents or guardians. One telltale sign is the child is not reaching age-appropriate milestones.
The teachers can also help parents understand where their child might struggle. They might lack empathy, have rigid routines, repetitive speech, intense interests, social withdrawal, literal thinking, and difficulty expressing emotions.
For adults, common ASD signs are difficulty understanding emotions and social situations. Moreover, the preference for solitude and a rigid routine are signs of potential social interaction and communication challenges.
Keep yourself updated and learn more about the Signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder, which can overlap with or seem similar to many other special needs as well. There is a diverse range of symptoms, and each learner may find different tasks challenging. It is best for learners that teachers and caregivers collaborate in their efforts.
Autism Teaching Strategies
Students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may find it difficult to handle school and learning for several reasons. Social interactions, disorganised or noisy situations, strong sensory stimulation, and changes to their daily personal routines happen continuously during mainstream learning. The hardest parts of the day could be the unscheduled social interactions, like lunchtime. Being aware of this can enable you to control these factors as much as possible to help your learner feel comfortable and able to pay attention to the learning.
Many ASD students struggle to write with a pencil and paper. Some may struggle with routines and organising.
A teacher can make learning easier by using effective strategies for autism in the classroom. This means creating an environment that encourages an inclusive and safe classroom.
Creating a structured environment helps students with ASD by reducing anxiety and confusion and providing predictability and routine.
- Visual schedules and checklists provide a clear outline of tasks and activities.
- Organising the physical environment helps reduce sensory overload and promote focus.
- The use of visual cues to indicate designated areas and spaces.
- As noise is usually a big trigger, it really helps to reduce noise levels as much as possible.
Visual support means tools that use pictures, symbols, and other visual aids rather than text instructions. This is a great strategy to help students with autism to communicate, learn, and understand information.
Different types of visual support tools are:
- Picture cards and schedules used to represent a task or activity visually.
- Social stories provide a visual narrative to explain social situations and expectations.
- Visual timers and countdowns provide a visual representation of time. This helps kids with autism to understand the passage of time and management.
Hence, you can enhance learning using a combination of these visual resources for children with ASD.
Students with autism often face communication challenges impacting their social interaction and academic performance. You can improve communication with ASD learners using simple and clear language. However, simple language needs visual aids such as picture cards and schedules to support communication.
For younger kids, it would be best to encourage communication naturally to build the child's confidence and motivation. Similarly, communication with adult learners can also be established by respecting their boundaries and keeping the communication open. Praise and rewards are also great ways to reinforce and encourage them to communicate.
As a teacher, you can employ another behaviour management technique called positive reinforcement. This means rewarding desirable behaviours to increase the likelihood of those behaviours being repeated. However, you must choose or design the reinforcement techniques according to your learner’s preferences. The reinforcement can be in the form of praise, tokens, or other rewards that they enjoy.
Collaboration with Parents and Caregivers
Collaboration with parents and caregivers can be a great help for teachers. You can ensure consistency between home and school environments. Parents and caregivers can be great guides toward the strengths and needs of the child with autism. You can develop effective interventions and strategies for an effective learning process.
Autism Spectrum CPD Course
Teaching children with autism can be challenging, but it is also enriching. By creating a supportive and inclusive learning environment, we can help them reach their full potential, and our Dealing with SENs in the Classroom CPDs is a great learning resource.
It is essential to recognise that every individual with autism is unique and requires personalised strategies and interventions. The Autism Spectrum Disorder CPD course can be highly beneficial for teachers and trainers to upskill themselves in this area.