Tips And Strategies For Dealing With Autism In The Classroom
- on Jul 20, 2022
It can be very challenging to have anyone in a classroom with autism. This is especially true with a child. However, it’s also one of the most fulfilling experiences you can have if you educate yourself on how to support them. You need to know how to help them maintain their routine, how to help them handle sensory overload, and help them engage in ways that help them progress. Anything you can do to help can benefit these children immensely.
Here are some of the best tips you can utilise when you are looking to support a child with autism in your classroom:
1. Establish a Set Routine
Anyone that has autism benefits from having a stable and consistent routine. The world can get very hectic and confusing even for those without autism. It can cause anxiety in those with autism if things are constantly changing. That’s why you want to develop a predictable routine that they can lean on. Luckily, the school system is already a rather structured place. Therefore, it shouldn’t be too difficult to make it predictable and stable. You do need to figure out ways to ensure they have a known and set daily routine that they can follow.
A good way to do this is by creating a visual timetable they can use. You can place both words and images onto a timetable in chronological order. This will describe what they should be doing when and where. This can give them a beneficial visual aid that provides them with a sense of security and normalcy. It can also be a good way to remind them who supports them.
2. Consider The Environment
Anyone that has autism suffers from sensory sensitivity. This can cause them to have a sensory overload at times. This can result in them acting intensely either positively or negatively to sensory stimulation. Thus, you want to try to do things to minimise sensory overload for them. Try to make things less overwhelming.
This is difficult to do because every child with autism is different. You need to figure out what their sensitivities are and how to minimise them. Try to figure out how they react to the various sounds in your classroom. Also, see how they react to various fabrics. Ask their parents for help if you need it. From there, you can remove as many stimuli as possible from the environment. This can minimise their anxiety by decreasing instances of sensory overload.
For instance, if they don’t like the school bell and it gets them very distressed, you could provide them with noise-cancelling headphones before the bell is set to ring. This can help minimise the stress the bell causes them. You do want to put this in their routine so they do it daily.
3. Manage Changes and Transitions
Transitions can be a big deal for every kid. However, it’s even more of a big deal for a child with autism. Routine is an essential part of their comfort level. Any changes can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, change is necessary and unavoidable in school. However, you can do some things to better prepare them for the changes they will face. You can introduce them to the new changes slowly to get them adjusted.
For instance, if you are looking to change classrooms next week, you could take them to visit the classroom a week ahead of time. This will allow them to prepare for the chance. They can get used to the new class and they can figure out where they are going to sit. You want to give them some predictability so they can better anticipate and deal with the changes. This can make the adjustment much easier. They will have time to mentally adjust to it.
4. Clear Communication
While this is something that can vary by individual, you do want to try to have clearer communication. Autism is something that can impact a child’s ability to communicate something. Thus, you need to use the right words carefully. You also need to pay attention to how you are structuring your sentences. Try to avoid complicating anything using obscure metaphors or even asking rhetorical questions. Try to keep things direct with them.
For example, if you are looking to get an autistic child to clean up, you want to tell them to clean up. You may be tempted to say, “can you start picking up your things and tidying your desk?” This is something that can be easily misinterpreted by a child with autism. Try to be more direct and tell them what you need them to do.
5. Integrate More Of Their Interests
Try to integrate more of their interests into the learning material like Treloar’s Natspec award-winning Inter-disciplinary Working program. Autistic children can form hyperfocus on their interests. Thus, by integrating more of their interests into the mix, you can get them involved in the classroom.