According to Autism Speaks, 1 in 68 children are on the autism spectrum. More and more children are being fully included in traditional classrooms. As a teacher, you may be increasingly expected to provide a successful learning environment for children on the autism spectrum while you simultaneously ease the concerns of families, help anxious children cope, and manage all your students’ needs. Take a look at these simple strategies to help children who are on the autism spectrum be successful in your classroom.
- Post a schedule. Children who are on the autism spectrum may have difficulty transitioning from one activity or class to the next. If they have a daily schedule, they will know what to expect in their day and will cope with changes better. Check out the Daily Schedule Pocket Chart to display your day.
- Prepare for changes. Immediate transitions can be jarring. Give students a warning when time is winding down. Time Trackers are a great option to help with this. They have lights that change from green to yellow to red to give visual cues for time remaining. Optional sounds can also be activated for an auditory “heads up”.
- Use Literal language. Children who are on the autism spectrum have difficulty processing language—and figurative language is especially confusing. If it’s “raining cats and dogs” they expect to see cats and dogs falling from the sky. Choose words that are direct and explicit when giving directions, explaining lessons, or talking with the class.
- Give sensory breaks. . Many children on the autism spectrum have sensory processing difficulties. They either are hypo–sensitive or hyper–sensitive, meaning their bodies need a lot more stimulation from their environment or are bothered by sensory stimulation that others can tune out—such as the hum of fluorescent lights, the mixture of smells from different deodorants and perfumes people are wearing, or the feeling of scratchy clothing tags and material. They may need time either to relax in a sensory-soothing room with low lights and little stimuli, or gain deep pressure stimulation by jumping on a rebounder trampoline or running outside on the playground. Either type of whole body activity can help center and ground children to better focus.
- Provide fidgets. Lots of students bounce their knees or tap their pencils. This actually helps them stay focused on what the teacher is saying. Make sure kids have a way to fidget that is not disruptive to the rest of the class. Give them a small rubber trinket or a few counters to fiddle with in their pockets. There are lots of fidget toys on the market that are small, uniquely shaped, and quiet when moved around.
About Learning Resources
By unleashing their imaginations, children learn problem solving and practice real–life skills, helping them grow up to be creative thinkers. At Learning Resources® our mission is to provide high-quality and innovative products that provide fun and engaging learning opportunities for children as they explore, discover their world and develop their creative side. Our award–winning educational toys, learning toys, discovery toys, and teaching tools are designed by educators and have been beloved by teachers, parents and children for over 30 years.
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