April 21, 2014

Teaching Autistic Children – Tips for Success

It can be very difficult, especially for inexperienced teachers, to teach autistic children. The fact that no two individuals respond to a particular strategy in the same way means that an educator must find the right combination of patience, innovation, and understanding in order to help these special children to get the education that they deserve. Autism is a condition that makes it difficult for these children to interact with their peers. It also requires a unique approach to delivering information and curriculum in order to help these children learn a subject without frustrating or overwhelming them.

Most autistic children are much more visually oriented which means that the teacher cannot rely on skills that have proven useful to other children like verbal interactions and written instructions. These children are much more responsive to pictures and diagrams than words. A particularly effective means of relaying information is to use flashcards that have corresponding words and pictures. Autistic children also tend to aggressively resist changes in routine. A teacher should set a specific schedule that both they and the student follow every day. This will help the child to feel relaxed and safe. New information must be introduced within this scheduling structure if the child is to progress and learn.

Many children with autism lack some of the motor skills possessed by others. Some teachers have found that rather than placing a great deal of importance on handwriting skills, using a keyboard and monitor allows a child to work with less frustration. Some autistic children have very negative reactions to loud noises like buzzers, bells and PA systems. It may be highly advantageous for teachers to create a calm and quiet atmosphere for these children. Instructions delivered by a whisper or a soft song may be more effective than traditional spoken instructions.

Using teaching aids such as non-toxic clay, sand and even water may help to trigger the imagination of a child with autism. Tactile stimulation has proven to be an effective means of helping these children understand certain subjects. Autistic children should be rewarded for good behavior rather than punished for negative behavior. Negative reinforcement can be very detrimental to the development of an autistic child, while positive reinforcement has proven time and again to be extremely beneficial. While not all educators are cut out to teach in this type of classroom, working with autistic children can be very fulfilling and rewarding.

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