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Teaching children with autism can be challenging, but there are some methods that make it possible to successfully educate those with this condition. One of the most important considerations to make is that most autistic children do best with a regular routine, as they are resistant to sudden change. Most teachers can use this to their advantage, since school is typically quite structured to begin with. Another point is that sudden loud noises and bright lights can be detrimental to autistic children, so these should be avoided in the classroom when possible while teaching children with autism. Finally, it should be noted that many autistic students tend to learn through visual cues, such as pictures and demonstrations.
The majority of autistic students do well on a set schedule, doing the same task at the same time nearly everyday. Since the typical school follows the same routine most days, teachers should take advantage of this detail. Of course, some teachers assume that children become bored with routine, and try to add in other activities to keep the class fresh. If an educator who is teaching children with autism wishes to add a task to the routine, it is often best to do so gradually, rather than suddenly. Otherwise, there is the risk of losing the benefit of the structured schedule that so many autistic children do well with.
Not only do many students with autism object to unexpected change, but they also often dislike sudden noises. For instance, the speakers of a school announcement system may scare them, as do the sounds of a bell or buzzer. Even chairs scraping against the floor are often unnerving to autistic students, though this may be fixed by attaching tennis balls to each chair leg, or by carpeting the classroom. Additionally, bright lights can also intimidate children with autism, so they may learn best when placed away from fluorescent lights, such as near a window or in a darker corner of the room.
When teaching children with autism, it is important to remember that they often learn best using visual instruction. For this reason, standing in the front of the classroom and talking about a subject is not likely to make an impact on the students. Instead, those teaching children with autism are advised to instruct the lesson using pictures, videos, or even a live demonstration using toys or regular objects. For example, teaching autistic children to count to ten may be easiest when showing them ten toys during the lesson, as this allows them to visualize it.
The best tip that I could give you would be to seek out professional help. There is a lot that the parents can do, but an expert can do wonders.
I have a 7 year old son with autism and my husband and I struggled for years to try to figure out how to get him in to the best situation possible for him to thrive. It was not easy and there were a lot of hard feelings and tough decisions to be made. But at one point we realized that we could not do it all on our own. It was bad for all of us but mostly for our son who really needed focused, professional therapies. He is doing better now than we could have ever imagined.
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