Educating Children With Autism: Best Practices
1 out of every 110 children in the United States has Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Autism spectrum disorders occur when problems with brain development impact a person’s ability to function normally. A person diagnosed with ASD can vary from mild issues to severe problems, creating a unique challenge for educating those affected by the disorder. However, certain practices tend to work better at educating children with autism than others.
Children with autism need structure in their learning environments. An autistic child needs to know what’s going to happen next in his/her day, and this pattern needs to continue in order to keep focus and prevent behavioral issues. Provide visual tools to help promote structure, such as a visual schedule of activities for the day so that the child knows what happens next. Another important aspect of structure is follow-through. If a learning activity is announced, it’s important that what’s announced actually occurs.
When creating a learning plan for an autistic child it’s important to understand that each child is different and has different strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles. With this in mind, it’s important to individualize each child’s learning plan. Include each child’s individual interests and preferences into learning activities to help focus and increase involvement. Also take into consideration the intensity of instruction. While some children may thrive under more intense learning activities, others may feel discouraged, so augment your methods to keep children motivated. The goals of the family should also be involved when creating a learning plan.
Autistic children have unique needs when it comes to behavior monitoring and control. Negative behavior often occurs as a way for a child to get a specific result. To help combat negative behavior it’s important to teach an autistic child positive ways to get the same results in order to reduce, or in some cases even eliminate negative behavior. It’s also important to bear in mind other factors that may cause the behavior changes, such as environmental factors. These factors can easily be altered or managed through functional behavior assessment, which involves determining what’s causing the behavior and simply removing or developing strategies to prevent whatever is causing the negative reaction.
Family plays an important role in the education of an autistic child, especially when setting overall learning goals. The family plays a role in two specific ways. First, the family typically knows the child better than an educator − including behavioral triggers, strengths, and weaknesses. Second, the lessons learned in the classroom need to be taught in the home as well. This allows the child the ability to not only practice new skills, but learn to use the skills in other surroundings outside the classroom.
When approaching the education of a child with an autism spectrum disorder, it’s essential to realize that each child is unique, and an individualized approach for each case will ensure the best results. Following the tips above will help guide your choices, providing a starting point for your child to learn and grow.
Ryan Hayes writes all about education. His recent work is on The 10 Best Online Masters in Education Degree Programs.