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How Can I Help A Child With Autism Learn More Effectively?

In order for you to help a child with autism learn effectively, you need to know how they learn best. Below is a list of some of the things that children with autism need to help them learn. Children With Autism Need Structure Structure makes events predictable, reduces stress, confusion, anxiety, and decreases behavior problems. Structure also builds on the child’s strengths, which are the desire for routine, predictability, organization, comfort with repetitive tasks, and their need to finish activities. Structure can help lead to independence. Tips To Maintain Structure:

  • Establish set routines at school and at home.
  • Create daily schedules, weekly calendars and lists.
  • Use visual cues like checklists with photos.
  • Make a schedule that is specific to the child’s developmental and skill levels.
  • Establish clear visual cues so that they can understand what work is expected, how much work is required, and how they know when they are finished the work.
  • Make sure that activities can be completed during their attention span.
  • Focus on what you want the child to do, and not what they should not do.
  • Make transitions predictable and regular.

Children With Autism Require Minimal Distractions People with Autism are often more sensitive to distractions than others. For example, most students do not attend to people entering or leaving a room, but students with autism often cannot ignore activity at the door. Other factors that interfere with their concentration and ability to learn include lights, alarms, announcements, hallway sounds, and smells. Tips To Avoid Distractions:

  • Make sure it’s visually clear what activities happen in which areas.
  • Keep furniture placement consistent. Keep seating consistent and materials organized.
  • Have the child sit near or facing the teacher or at the end of a row with their back to the wall. Some children are anxious when others sit behind them.
  • In a large group, such as an assembly, put them near peer role models and at the end of a row where they can easily leave if overwhelmed.
  • For academic work, use visual barriers like study carrels.
  • Some students prefer to work under an incandescent table lamp.
  • Reduce traffic in and out of the classroom.
  • Be mindful of classroom sound levels.

Children With Autism Communicate With Behavior Children with autism often have difficulties communicating, so paying attention to their behavior may give you clues about how they are feeling or what they are trying to say. Remember, communication goes both ways. You may not understand a child with autism and you shouldn’t assume that they understand you either. Watch them to see how they learn best. Allow the student to teach you how to teach them. Tips To Help Behavior:

  • Remember that positive rewards work better than punishment. Catch them being good.
  • Use stories and role-playing to teach appropriate behavior in social situations.
  • Pay attention to their likes, dislikes, and interests and use them to increase engagement.
  • Teach the child ways to be flexible. Model and practice often.
  • Use their strengths in leadership positions.
  • Tell the student if there is going to be a change in the daily schedule or routine, or if something needs to be interrupted before it is finished.
  • Let the child know ahead of time when an activity is about to begin or end, or if you are going to touch or move them. Transitions matter.

Children With Autism Are Better Taught Visually Many children with autism think in pictures, not in words. Their thoughts can be like videotapes running in their imagination. Pictures are sometimes their first language, and words are their second language. Tips For Visually Teaching Reading:

  • Nouns may be easier words for them to learn because they can make a picture in their mind of the word.
  • To teach a child words like “up” or “down,” you should demonstrate them to the child. For example, say “up” every time you pick the child up.
  • Some children will learn better if cards with the words “up” and “down” are attached to the toy airplane. The “up” card is attached when the plane takes off and the “down” card is attached when it lands.
  • To teach a verb like jump, hold a card that says, “jump,” while jumping.
  • Children with echolalia will often learn best if picture books are used so that the language is associated with pictures.
  • Other students might learn best with a phonics-based approach.
  • Some children with autism can read words by rote memorization, but do not comprehend what the words mean. Check for understanding.