Strategies To Help Children Cope With Autism
Accurate knowledge is vital in understanding autism and how to help children who have it. Use trustworthy resources, such as the one shared under our Free Resources tab, to learn about autism, its challenges and treatments, and how to help a child with autism be successful in school and in life. Remember that an early diagnosis and consistent support can give children with autism a better chance at a successful future. We’ve based the following strategies on information from Dr. Clarissa Willis’ My Child Has Autism: What Parents Need to Know and Teaching Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Check out those two books for more information about any of the topics and strategies below. We hope you can implement these 16 strategies at home and in the classroom to help children cope with autism:
Impact Of Autism On A Students Life
Every person on the autism spectrum is unique and their needs will be reflected differently.
Challenges experienced interacting socially and communicating with others are common among students on the spectrum, and will have an impact on every aspect of their lives.
These challenges can lead to levels of stress, anxiety and depression that are much higher than for other students. Up to 72% of students on the autism spectrum have additional mental health needs.
Classrooms are social environments that rely heavily on being able to interact, socialise and communicate with others effectively. This can intensify the stress, anxiety and depression students on the spectrum may experience.
This can present unique challenges for schools and teachers, with students on the spectrum being four times more likely than their peers to require additional learning and social support services.
Research shows the importance of understanding the link between academic learning and social and emotional competence.
A lack of social-emotional competence can lead to not only a decrease in a students connection with school, but also academic performance.
This reinforces the notion that social-emotional learning has a critical role to play in learning, as well as in school attendance, classroom behaviour, and academic engagement for all students.
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.
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Sorting With Snacks Activity
This tactile activity for children with autism can be a fun way to engage students during math time. Give everyone in your class a food that is easy to sort, like chewy snacks or small crackers. Multicolored snacks are ideal, but you can also use food that comes in different shapes, textures, or sizes.
First, ask them to sort the food by color, shape, or another characteristic. Then, use the snacks to teach students basic math skills like counting, adding, or subtraction. Once theyve grasped the concept you want to teach, reward your students by letting them eat the snack.
Bring Special Interests Into Lesson Plans
Many children with autism have a fixation on certain topics or activities. Take advantage of what theyre passionate about and use it while teaching students with autism to help them focus in class. If a child with autism loves outer space, for example, you could plan a math assignment about counting the planets in our Solar System.
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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.
Use Photos And Examples Of What A Finished Product Looks Like
As previously mentioned, students on the autism spectrum have trouble understanding anything that is not literal. They also take longer to process information. When starting projects, the teacher may find it helpful to show students an example of a finished product. This provides the students with a clear image of what it is theyre working towards.
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Tips For Supporting Autistic Children In The Classroom
1. Establish a routine
The world is a noisy, disordered, anxiety-inducing place for children with ASD. So having a fixed routine that is stable and predictable is a great way to make a child with autism comfortable in class. While most classes are structured in nature, teachers can help autistic children understand the routine and make it clear to them.
One way to do this is to create a visual timetable. Teachers can place images to describe activities and transitions in chronological order to help the child understand how the day will progress.
2. Work with their parents
Children with ASD often have what is called sensory sensitivity that causes them to get anxious or aggressive around certain sounds or textures. But this sensitivity is specific to each child. So its best to talk to a childs parents before they start a particular class to find out what in particular disturbs them. For example, if the child hates the sound of the school bell, you may allow them to use noise-canceling headphones five minutes before the bell goes off.
3. Integrate their interests
Many children with autism can become highly skilled and focused on specific interests, whether its electronics, painting, unicorns, or a certain period in history. Teachers can use these interests as gateways to learning. For example, if you know a child is interested in cars, they can try integrating pictures of cars in their math or spelling exercises.
4. Use colorful visual aids
5. Deliver instruction visually
Transition Strategies For Kids With Autism: 10 Tips That Work
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While most children struggle with transitions at some point in their lives , children with developmental delays such as autism can find it particularly difficult to move from one activity to another. They may become visibly agitated and overwhelmed, express feelings of sadness and anger, and some may erupt into a full-blown meltdown, especially when they are expected to transition from an activity they enjoy to something less desirable.
When considered from a logical point of view, this inability to cope with change in kids with autism makes perfect sense. Communication challenges, rigidity, sensory problems, emotional difficulties, and cognitive deficiencies can make the lives of children on the autism spectrum extremely confusing and difficult. They depend on predictability and consistency to help make sense of the world around them, and when faced with disruptions, they find it difficult to cope.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where change is inevitable, and learning effective transition strategies for kids with autism can make all the difference in helping to make their lives a little less overwhelming.
Whether youre a parent looking for transition strategies to help your child with autism cope with day-to-day tasks more easily, or a teacher looking for tips and tricks to make classroom transitions easier, weve got 10 brilliant ideas to get you started!
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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.
Rise To The Challenge
Positive Action recognizes the value of each and every person. We help special needs students integrate into mainstream classrooms while equipping them with the essential skills and motivation to thrive.
Positive Action can help you assess your special education students needs and plan how to meet them with Individualized Education Plans.
I am very grateful for these lessons. They fulfill a need that so many children are lacking in the educational process today. Linda Davis, 2nd Grade Teacher, Davis Elementary
If you want to see how Positive Action can increase educational success at your institution or organization contact us by phone, chat, or email or schedule a webinar with us below.
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Know That Repetitive Actions Are Calming For A Child With Autism
Weve already discussed the habit of stimming repetitive movement such as rocking that a child on the autism spectrum uses to lessen anxiety. But obtaining a sense of calm through repetition isnt reserved for stimming. Rather, teachers can provide a sense of calm for all students by maintaining a routine and sticking to it.
Follow A Behavior Plan
Because each child with autism is unique, they need a customized behavior plan. This document is part of the childs Individualized Education Plan and outlines the childs needs and includes specific steps that improve maladaptive behaviors without punishing the child.
A behavior plan starts with a Functional Behavioral Analysis . This analysis identifies the root of behaviors, which can include the childs desire to obtain an object, activity, or sensation, escape a demand or undesirable situation, or gain attention. The FBA will describe the frequency and intensity of behaviors, identify the causes and consequences of behaviors, and suggest possible solutions.
With information from an FBA, a special education or behavior consultant writes a Behavior Intervention Plan . This document lists the challenging behaviors, their causes, and effective solutions that are specific to the childs needs. The BIP includes measurable goals that the teacher and other staff can monitor. The BIP can be modified as the student achieves goals.
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Calming Activities To Prevent Autism Meltdowns In Class
When students with autism are feeling overwhelmed, the intense response that they feel may cause them to lose control of their emotions. This is called an autism meltdown and is different from when students without autism act out in class. While the best strategy for autism meltdowns is to seek help from a school specialist, these calm down activities can help to de-escalate stressful situations.
Autism In The Classroom: Schools For Learning Differences
Some parents feel that traditional schools donât have the resources to train teachers. Or they feel they donât have the resources to keep up with the challenges and demands of a child with autism in the classroom. Those concerns have prompted some parents to start their own schools.
For instance, eight years ago, Tamara Spafford along with three families founded the Lionheart School in Alpharetta, Georgia.
Spafford is now the schoolâs executive director. She says she helped start the school because when she looked at private and public schools something was missing. She couldnât find anything as good as what she was doing for her daughter at home.
âWe needed to get out of the basement,â she says. âAnd we needed a supportive, loving community. We also needed a school.â
Spafford says she and the other founding families didnât want to battle school systems. They also âdidnât want to lose time.â There is no known cure for autism. Experts believe, though, that early and steady intervention is key in helping children learn the social skills and strategies they need. When they have those skills and strategies they can communicate. At the same time, behavioral problems can be addressed before they become major impediments.
The Lionheart School, like a few others across the U.S., uses a developmental clinical approach in a school setting.
- Neurodevelopmental aspects
- Social, emotional, behavioral
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Autism In The Classroom: Tips From A Parent
Atlanta resident Leslie Wolfe and her husband, Alan, struggle with whether to tell people their son Joshua has autism. The bright 7-year-old did so well in his public school’s first-grade class that many of his classmatesâ parents didnât know Joshua needed extra help.
Wolfe says one reason Joshua is thriving in public school is that the family got started early to help him get ready.
Joshua attended Emory Universityâs Walden School. Walden School is a preschool for children with autism. Each classroom has up to 18 children. There are two âtypicalâ children in the classroom for every one child with autism. The idea is to help the children with autism learn from the behavior of their classmates. Another aim of the Walden School is to help families learn how to deal with autism spectrum disorders.
Wolfe offers these other tips for helping your child with an ASD do well at school.
She suggests showing up a week before school starts. Practice walking to school. Once there, show your child their new classroom. Also show your child with autism how to get to the water fountains and the bathrooms.
How Would It Feel To Be : : : :
Next time you read a book to your class, try asking your students how it would feel to be the main character in the story. If youre reading a picture book about Cinderella, for example, you could ask how they would feel if they had two evil stepsisters who were mean to them. Or if youre reading Peter Pan as a class, you could ask them what happy memories they would think about to fly with magic pixie dust.
This can help students with autism learn empathy as well as how to see situations in their lives from another perspective. It can also teach them how to recognize emotional cues by encouraging them to put themselves in the perspective of another person.
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Top Tips To Help You Get Started
All children have unique learning needs, but children with Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD require a little extra guidance and support. Whether youre a parent or teacher, its essential to understand what a child with autism needs and how you can help them learn better.
These 10 tips will help you get started:
1. Create a Structured Environment Children with autism feel more comfortable when they have a routine with clear structures, and minimal deviations from their predicted schedule. Make sure the learning environment and lesson plans are structured in a manner that tells students as well as educators what is to be done, for how long or how much, when it needs to be done, when it is completed, and what comes next.2. Make Communication Easier Many communication techniques are used by educators who teach children with ASD. For instance, some learning centers use sign language for autistic children with low speech skills. Facilitated communication is another technique that may help them learn better, where you hold the childs hand or arm and encourage them to press the appropriate key on portable communication devices.
Consult a doctor or therapist if you need guidance, research new techniques for teaching children with autism, and try a few different methods to gauge how effective they are for each child. Most importantly, dont lose patience. With a little practice and effort, youll find what works best for them!
Offer Accommodations For Students With Limited Motor Skills
Some students with autism may have more trouble with activities that require fine motor skills than others. In an article with the Indiana Resource Center for Autism, renowned scientist and advocate Dr. Temple Grandin suggests offering accommodationslike typing on a computer instead of writingto mitigate these challenges.
When it comes to specific accommodations, it may depend on the individual. Its always a good idea to reach out to a students family to determine the best resources for their child.
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Supporting Children With Autism
Children who are diagnosed with autism or another type of autism spectrum disorder struggle with social relationships, sensory awareness, communication, and behavior challenges. These challenges range from mild to severe and can vary in each child. One child with autism may speak well but will continuously throw tantrums and hit others, for example, while another child with autism may not speak at all and will obsess over certain objects. This can make treating and helping children with autism difficult since there is not a universal treatment and responses are trial and error until what works best for each child is determined.
At Kaplan Early Learning Company, we understand the difficulties parents, educators, and caregivers face as they help children with autism cope with developmental challenges in completing everyday tasks and learning educational material. We offer a variety of materials and resources to support children with special needs. Browse our free resources and tools for more information about autism and ASD.