Teaching children with autism is often a tall order for most parents and educators. This is largely due to the fact that most people don’t know how to deal with an autistic child. Such children need to have a structured day, and teachers who can be firm but gentle with them. Autistic children usually lack communication, language, social, and cognitive skills. But they respond better to visual aids and structured environment that can accommodate their sensory routines and sensitivities.
5 Teaching Tips for Children with Autism
Whether you are a parent, teacher, or a special needs educator, here’s what you can do teach an autistic child.
1. Encourage visual thinking
Most children with autism are visual thinkers. They think in pictures and not in languages. Thoughts are often like videotapes running across the mind. Pictures come first, words come next. Nouns are usually the easiest words to learn because children with autism can visualize the picture. Demonstrate movements to learn directions. Like, take a toy airplane and show movements like “up” and “down”. Say “up” when the plane takes off, and “down” when it lands. This will help the child to relate the words to movements.
2. Avoid long verbal communication
Children with autism often have problems in remembering sequences. Write down instructions on paper if the child can read. Directions that have more than three steps should be written down. Long sequences of words should be avoided.
3. Encourage talent
Many autistic children are good at computer programming, drawing, and art and craft. Encourage such talents. Emphasize on grooming their skills. It’s a thumbrule in autism treatment. Talents can be converted to skills that’ll help a child to get employment when they turn adults.
4. Motivate school work
It’s not an unusual autistic behavior to get fixated on only one subject like maps or trains. Motivating school work is undeniably the best way to tackle fixations. For instance, if a child likes trains, use them to teach reading and mathematics. Read a book on trains, or show your child how to calculate the time needed to travel between Washington and New York.
5. Visual number concepts
Use concrete visual methods to teach number concepts. There are many math toys in the market. Buy a set of blocks with different colors and length and teach addition and subtraction concepts. Cut an apple into half and a pear into four, to teach fractions. Children with autism learn by seeing. Use that for their advantage.