Autism presents challenges to education. While every child is an individual with different learning processes, autism may present its own special roadblocks to learning. While there is no “one size fits all” approach to teaching children on the autism spectrum, employing certain techniques may help foster learning.
Set a Routine
Routines are very important to children with autism. Establishing a set time to perform each learning activity can help to encourage participation. Placing diagrams or notes regarding what time each activity will be performed right next to a clock can help children to learn more about the time and can help children take comfort in knowing what will come next and when.
Use Images More Than Words
Although autistic children may differ in the way that they learn, most are visually oriented. This means that images will assist with learning more than spoken or written words. Flash cards, photos, and videos may be more engaging than other tools.
Self-stimulation, or “stimming” is a behavior that is very common to autistic children. Stimming behaviors may include clutching a blanket, flapping hands, or walking around the room. In many cases, these behaviors give the child security and comfort while learning new information. Stimming should not be suppressed, but allowed and encouraged.
Integrate Social Modeling in Lessons
Autistic children typically do not intuitively pick up on emotions through observation. Autistic children may prosper from being explicitly taught how to act or react in situations. This behavior does not usually come naturally, but can be taught and can help improve social relationships.
Use Interests to Promote Learning
All children focus more on subjects that they are interested in. To promote learning, it is helpful to integrate existing interests when teaching new materials. Whenever possible, children should receive more instruction in subjects and themes that peak their interests.