Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may often find it difficult to express themselves and assimilate to a social or classroom environment, owing to the difficulties they face with communication, social skills and sensory sensitivity.
Likewise, teachers or care givers who have limited or no experience with children who have ASD may encounter immense challenges when providing support for them. Hence, we would like to share some teaching tips with you as we did with school teachers, which are road-tested in actual speech and language therapy sessions that we have found useful.
Working with a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
1. Give very specific tasks in sequential order. Provide clear
structure and set routines – children with ASD do best with a regular routine and may be resistant to sudden change.
2. Children with ASD may find it difficult to switch between tasks. Avoid digression in the midst of an activity. For example, they may do better to complete an entire set of questions 1 to 10, and then have classroom discussions about question 3, rather than answering questions 1 to 3, participate in an open-ended class discussion about question 3, come back to question 4 etc.
3. Always keep language simple and concrete, in as few words as possible. Reword your sentence if necessary but do not use very different words or phrase each time. Repeat instructions and check understanding. When you ask a question, give clear choices. Limit them to 2-3 choices only and try not to leave choices open ended.
4. Recognise that changes in manner or behavior may reflect anxiety (which may be triggered by minor change to routine) and not to take apparently rude or aggressive behavior personally.
5. Avoid overstimulation and minimise or remove distracters. Sudden loud noises or bright lights can be detrimental to autistic children and should be avoided in classroom when possible.
6. Some activities that may be ‘fun’ for the rest of the class, such as a joke, or pretending to have a wrong answer, may be difficult for ASD children to ‘switch’ out of. They may over-react to such activities with excessive laughter. Be prepared to give them time to make the transition back to regular classroom behaviour.
7. Try to use visual cues such as pictures, graphic organizers and demonstrations in your teaching.
The above list of teaching tips are not exhaustive but we hope it would be useful to you. You can also check out our website and blog LeoMagan.com and YouTube LeoMagan Channel for other articles, teaching tips, information videos etc.
Do share with us your experience below with children who have ASD and if the teaching tips work for you. Let us provide the best support we can for our loved ones.