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6 TIPS THAT WORK WHEN IT COMES TO TEACHING STRATEGIES FOR AUTISM

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6 TIPS THAT WORK WHEN IT COMES TO  TEACHING STRATEGIES FOR AUTISM

There are so many varying levels of Autism that teaching strategies will vary with each individual. However, similar strategies can be used with each individual as needed based on where they are on the spectrum. In this article, I have listed some of the tools that are used by educators or therapists when teaching a student with Autism that actually works!

ENVIRONMENT CONTROL

Some schools will have a separate classroom for students with Autism. Autism Centers will have separate rooms for each child. Having the ability to control the environment is important because Autistic individuals will often have a high sensitivity to light or noise.Being able to control these elements will help to offer them a space in which they are comfortable and make it easier for them to learn. For my high-functioning twins, they are mainstreamed. However, I do have it in their IEP to have headphones for Zion when he needs quiet (he also has sensory issues).

 

VISUAL SCHEDULE

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Visual schedules can be helpful for those with autism because it helps to calm their nerves when their day is being changed. Most individuals on the spectrum like to have a structured day and to develop habits. When their day is changed, it can be difficult for them to accept it. Having a visual schedule and showing them what is coming next in their day can help, quite a bit, with transitioning from one activity to the next. For us, having a consistent schedule is a MUST. It is helpful for both of the twins to know what comes next in their day. Sometimes to the adult this may seem trivial, but to a child on the spectrum this is a DEAL BREAKER!

TEACHING NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUES

Teaching children on the spectrum to communicate when they are non-verbal is extremely important. A good amount of the negative behaviors a child might have, stem from the fact that they are unable to communicate what they need or want. There are three devices that are most commonly used. One is the iPad with the use of a program calledProloquo2Go – AssistiveWare. It allows the student to carry around a relatively light device and use it to speak by pressing pictures and having the device speak for them.1 A similar device is the Dynavox which is quite a bit heavier, but has more speaking options. It gives the child access to more of a vocabulary and more options. Both devices also allow children have the device speak full sentences for them. It is said, that because these devices speak for the children that it actually increases the likelihood that they will start to talk because they are hearing the words over and over again. The other non-technical version is called a PECS book. This is a Velcro book full of Velcro pictures. The child can hand the picture to an adult and show them what they want or need. The adult then will often say the word for them. With the twins, they were taught several necessary signs (this was before iPads was considered a hot commodity).

TEACHING SOCIAL SKILLS

All children need a little help in this area, but social skills that come naturally to other children are not as simple for a child with Autism. Creating social situations for a child with Autism and teaching them how to deal with the situation is a good way to get them to learn the social skills that they are lacking in. This is another thing that will be child specific. This is something that we still working on and the twins are currently 11.5 years old. {my plan is to write on my experience about this since we are currently dealing with social skills right now from a high-functioning point of view}

OFFER SENSORY OPPORTUNITIES

Each individual student will usual require some sort of sensory activity every day. Those on the spectrum are very sensory based, and a great way to decrease negative behaviors or tantrums, is to make sure that their sensory needs are met. An occupational therapist can often pinpoint the sensory needs of a child pretty easily. Otherwise it will either be common knowledge of the parent, or the Teacher or Therapist will utilize trial and error to figure out what the child’s sensory needs are.

TEACHING FUNCTIONAL SKILLS

Depending on where they are on the Spectrum, it is important to acknowledge the fact that some children with Autism will have to be taught daily tasks that will eventually come naturally to a normal functioning child. For example, you might have to teach the child how to wipe the table after snack, or how to put away their toys, or how to feed themselves. This is something that honestly, I want to say will get better with age… but I’m still doing this on a daily basis. Zion usually gets most of the skills that I’ve taught him and don’t need to be reminded. However, Ziah has to be constantly reminded and shown how to do things. I think this is something that I, as the Mom will just have to be patience with and stay consistent.

I am sure that there are probably more strategies that could be talked about, but these are the six that we have either worked on or currently working on. These are also teaching strategies that will work regardless of where the child may fall on the spectrum. Keep in mind that every child is different, but our children are smart. They know more than what they let on and can be taught the basic fundamentals just like every other children. We just have to usedifferent strategies when it comes to Autism, but we will all get there.

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