Speak To The Nursery Or School
Speaking to staff at their nursery or school is the best place to start.
You could speak to:
- your child’s teacher
- special educational needs staff, if the school has them
Talk to them about the needs you think your child has. For example, if they need help with communication, learning or social skills.
History Schools’ Responses And Methods Of Teaching Goals And Purposes Of Education
Though autism is a familiar term in the early twenty-first century, it was only recognized in the 1940s as a severe disability. Since that time, there has been extensive interest in and professional activity concerning autism. Children with autism have difficulty communicating, playing, and establishing relationships with others. Autism, often referred to as a neurological disorder, is usually evident by age three, reported in all countries, and affects between 2 and 21 individuals per 10,000, with 4 to 5 times more males than females diagnosed. About 80 percent of children with autism also meet the criteria for mental retardation, with significant limitations in IQ and adaptive behavior scores.
How Autism Affects Learning
Autism is a complicated disorder that impacts language, communication, and learning. In additional to symptoms of autism, many autistics individuals also struggle with learning disabilities. The combination of these factors makes a significant impact on how students with autism successfully access education.
Autism can affect learning in many ways. Students with autism may experience:
- A strong need for routine in the classroom.
- Issues with unstructured times, finding them highly challenging.
- Intense or narrow interests.
- Behavior challenges.
A general education classroom setting is often not sufficiently equipped to meet the unique needs of students on the autism spectrum. For this reason, many families select schools and programs that specialize in addressing the unique strengths and challenges that individuals with autism face.
Some children on the spectrum are able to successfully attend a general education classroom with moderate supports and interventions. For autistic students who need greater support, there are many high-quality autism programs available.
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Teaching Strategies For Students With Autism
In 2000, fewer than 100,000 students with autism were served by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act , a federal law requiring access to free public education for disabled children and young adults. By 2018, less than two decades later, that number had to more than 700,000 students over 10 percent of the 6,964,000 disabled students who were covered that year.
As more U.S. students are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder a disorder whose prevalence rate has nearly tripled since 2000, according to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health its increasingly important for educators to develop adequate and appropriate response strategies. By increasing their awareness of various educational strategies for students with autism, not only can teachers better serve their students they can also develop valuable skills that will help them stand out to potential employers.
In this article, well explore four teaching strategies for students with autism spectrum disorder, which can be utilized to help young learners achieve better outcomes. Whether youve already begun your career as a special education teacher, or you are still in the process of earning your credential through an accredited teaching program, the methods and concepts discussed below can benefit the children you work with.
Speech And Language Disorders
Speech and language deficits are one of the main ways autism affects learning. Problems with language development and speech delays are often the first sign that a child may have autism. There are multiple types of speech and language disorders that are categorized under expressive or receptive. Parents who notice signs of a speech and language disorder in their child can hire a speech-language pathologist to observe and assess. This entails observing how the child follows directions, listens, speaks, understands, and repeats phrases.
A pragmatic speech delay, under the expressive disorder category, is one of the more common types of delays that presents itself in what people say, how they say it, and when they say it. Children with autism who have a pragmatic delay might constantly talk out of turn and off-topic during class, be louder than what is accepted, perseverate on certain words or phrases, have a difficult time stating their ideas and opinions, struggle with collaborative lessons, have poor conversational skills, and find idioms and metaphors difficult to understand. Many of these are language skills that come naturally to the general population however, these are common areas that students with autism may find conflicting.
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The Autism Spectrum Disorder Guidelines That Shape Our Approach
The autism spectrum disorder Guideline is the basis for working with people who have ASD in schools and the community. Its a constantly updated living guideline.
Intensive early intervention for children and students on the spectrum has significant benefits. The guideline recommends:
- intervention and support as soon as possible
- responsive services for children, families and whnau
- structured teaching and environments that reflect unique needs
- support in everyday situations alongside their peers.
The research indicates that, with the right kind of teaching, students with ASD develop social and communication skills, and manage their stress and behaviour.
Break Down Skills Into Smaller Parts
Some ASD students have trouble learning component skills in the same way neurotypical students do. Task Analysis an evidence-based practice that divides a task or skill into small, teachable components can help them learn better, according to a 2015 Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders study.
If you notice your student is struggling with a task, try breaking it down into smaller chunks. Practice the skill yourself and write down each step.
Critical Aspects of Task Analysis:
For a more in-depth review of implementing Task Analysis, read this article from National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders.
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How Autism Impacts Learning
Children with autism function on a wide spectrum. Some people with mild autism symptoms may be able to communicate relatively well but struggle in social situations, while people with severe autism symptoms often struggle to verbalize their thoughts. This wide spectrum means that how autism affects learning will vary greatly according to the individual and the severity of their disorder.
Children with ASD experience the world in a different way than neurotypical children. There are many factors that impact an autistic childs ability to successfully access educational curriculum.
Autism impacts learning in these ways:
Curriculum For Autistic Children
When developing curriculum for autistic children, there are many social and educational factors that must be considered that neurotypical students do not face. The way autistic students interact, are impacted by their environment, and absorb new information must all be considered.
Three factors that are particularly important to take into consideration when developing curriculum for autistic children are social interaction, communication, and behavior.
Students with autism spectrum disorder experience social interaction in different ways. They often have:
- Atypical methods of seeking comfort.
- Nonconforming imitation.
- Limited ability to connect with peers.
Students with ASD experience communication difficulties, such as:
- Problems correctly interpreting, understanding, and using nonverbal communication.
- Difficulty comprehending language.
Students with autism present with distinctive behavior challenges, including:
- Restricted interests in activities.
- Stereotyped and repetitive body movements.
- Persistent preoccupation with or attachment to certain objects.
- Restricted range of interests or a preoccupation with a single interest.
- Challenges with attention and motivation.
- A need to follow routines precisely.
- Distress over changes to the environment or routine.
- Sensitivity or unusual responses to sensory stimuli.
- High levels of anxiety.
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What Challenges Do Students With Asd Experience In School
While teachers often ask if autism is a learning disability, the answer isnt as straightforward as youd think. Autism itself isnt a learning disability, but there are some learning difficulties associated with autism. For example, students diagnosed with autism are more likely to develop attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia. When teaching students with ASD, its helpful to watch for symptoms of learning disorders and refer them to a specialist if needed.
Children with autism are also more likely to develop emotional disorders due to the unique challenges they face. Without support in the classroom, these students are more likely to feel isolated or misunderstood. At least one in three people with autism with develop mental health issues like depression or anxiety in their lives. And since the risk of self-harm behaviors is 28 times more likely for children with autism, making sure your students receive the emotional support they need is essential.
Another issue many students with autism face is bullying. Around 34% of children with autism report being picked on at school to the point that it distresses them. Because these kids may think or act differently from others, other students may tease them or leave them out of their friend circles. Thats why its important to educate all children in your school about autism, not just the student with ASD.
How Do Autistic Children Learn Differently From Other Children
Here our expert staff highlight the different teaching methods autistic children need: Pupils with autism require bespoke multi disciplinary packages which include therapeutic support to help them to engage with learning. They need predictable environments with structure and high levels of routine along with packages of social learning and interaction.
Our experts highlighted the importance of specialist teaching: The curriculum needs to be compensatory developed with an understanding of the triad of impairment, sensory processing issues and psychological theories to make it meaningful. Many pupils are highly visual learners and require instruction to be given in this manner.
Without these individualised supports across the school environment it is highly unlikely that a pupil with autism will make the academic and social progress that they should.
Steve is a blogger and was diagnosed with autism at the age of 48. He is also a tutor at the National Autistic Society. He highlights the difficulty he finds when communicating with others: I really dont understand people. Its like not being able to connect with whats going on around you, its like Im on one planet and the rest of the world is on another.
Steve highlighted the difficulty autistic children may face at school: Verbal instruction is almost impossible, its like the words come towards me and then they disappear before I get the chance to process them so it makes it really hard at work.
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Effective Teaching Strategies For Children With Autism
In some cases, the learning characteristics of students with autism may differ from the rest of your class. But luckily, the right teaching strategies and methods can keep children with autism on track to finish the school year strong. Try these tips, educational accommodations, and resources for students with autism to help them learn concepts that might otherwise be difficult for them to grasp.
Colleges For Students With Autism
For autistic students who are considering attending college, there are many colleges and universities across the country that offer programs designed specifically for students with autism. Here is a selection of college programs that offer services to support personal and academic success for students with autism in 2022:
- Kent State University: Located in Kent, Ohio, this school offers a variety of autism programs through its Autism Initiatives. Programs focus on supporting autistic students by connecting them with resources on campus to help them be successful. The programs also work to spread autism awareness and understanding.
- Western Kentucky University: Located in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the Kelly Autism Program at Western Kentucky University provides an individualized education program to every student in the program. Students benefit from mentors who help them adjust to living on campus. It also offers community and social activities for students with autism.
The above list is only a snapshot of colleges and universities across the country that offer programs designed to support the success of autistic students in 2022. The programs vary in price, services, and accommodations, so it is important to find a program that meets all of your or your childâs needs.
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Factoring In Autism Severity Level
Since autism exists on a spectrum, some people are more severely impacted by the disorder than others. In a learning environment, the severity level of autism greatly affects the approach to education and appropriate accommodations that should be made.
When the newest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders was published in 2013, autistic disorder, Asperger syndrome , pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified , and childhood disintegrative disorder were combined into one diagnosis: autism spectrum disorder.
The four previously separate diagnoses each contained similar symptoms, just with varying levels of severity. ASD recognizes these shared symptoms as being characterized by a persons challenges in the areas of social communication, social skills, and restricted or repetitive behaviors.
The challenges associated with ASD are then classified by level. The levels of ASD are used to describe the severity of the individuals social skills and problematic behaviors. They are:
The Role Of The Senco
The key role of the SENCO is to provide support for children with autism and their parents as well as to support teachers to make appropriate adjustments and access external support such as speech and language therapists.
However, according to a 2006 report by the National Autistic Society, 23% of parents are dissatisfied with SENCOs level of understanding of autism. This suggests that SENCOs are not experienced or educated to the level they should be in this area.
After researching the qualifications necessary to become a SENCO, it could be argued that SENCOs are not fully experienced to be the only support for special needs children in mainstream schools.
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Top College Programs For Students With Autism
As the number of students with autism continues to grow across the country in 2022, and awareness and understanding of the disorder grow with it, an increasing number of colleges and universities offer autism programs on their campuses. Many of the programs provide academic and social support, and emphasize work-readiness for life after college.
Here is a list of top college programs designed specifically for students with autism:
- Western Kentucky University: The Kelly Autism Program at Western Kentucky University offers educational support to students on the spectrum via individual education planning, classroom accommodations, tutoring, participation in community activities, social and leisure activities, job coaching, and parent support.
- Kent State University: Kent State offers multiple autism initiatives, including a college success program for students with autism and Partnering for Achievement and Learning Success . The initiatives provide support and resources to help students become successful on campus. It also works to spread autism awareness and understanding.
The above list is a representation of colleges and universities that offer programs specifically for students on the autism spectrum. In 2022, there are many opportunities for college students with autism to get the individualized support services they need to be academically and socially successful in college.
Tips For Teaching Students With Autism
With a growing number of children who have autism in school, here are some steps teachers can take to help them learn, academically and socially
I remember pretty vividly the blank faces I would encounter when I was a kid and told people I had a family member with autism. This seemly changed overnight around the time I entered undergrad to embark on a career in special education. In the past decade or so, theres been much more exposure and awareness of autism and its uniqueness. With the ever-growing population of children with autism, it’s so important that all educators are well-versed on their needs. Here are six tips to help your students with autism thrive in the classroom.
Avoid sensory overload. Many unexpected things can be distracting to students with autism. Fluorescent lights, smells, and noises from other students can make it difficult for students with autism to concentrate. Using cool, calm colors in the classroom can help create a more relaxing atmosphere. Avoid covering the walls with too many posters or other things to look at. Some students may even benefit from their own center, where they can spend time away from any possible distractions.
To learn more about working with students with autism, visit The Autism Vault.
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Supporting Students With Autism: 10 Ideas For Inclusive Classrooms
Students with autism may have unique needs with learning, social skills, and communication. These ten simple ideas will help teachers address some of these needs and provide guidance for bringing out the best in learners with autism.
Adapted from: P. Kluth . Youre Going to Love This Kid!: Teaching Students with Autism in the Inclusive Classroom.
While most educators agree that no recipe exists for teaching any individual student or group of students, there are certainly some guidelines that can be helpful for supporting students with certain labels. Students with autism may have unique needs with learning, social skills, and communication, therefore, teachers will need strategies to address each one of these areas. These ten simple ideas will help teachers address some of the aforementioned needs and provide guidance for bringing out the best in learners with autism labels.