How to Deal with and Teach Young People on the Autistic Spectrum

teachingFollowing on from my previous post on how to detect autism in young people I thought I would share with you some of the experience I have in teaching children with Autism. As some of you may know from reading my about page, I work in a high school specifically with children with educational needs. At the moment one of my primary students has Aspergers and here are some of the methods that I use to help him learn (just remember that every child is different and these may not work for everyone).

Use Lists and Tick Boxes

One thing that works very well is writing out a list of tasks that need to be done and then putting tick boxes next to them. This brings a sense of order that is shown visually so the instructions that are being given verbally can be viewed as well. People with autism are often better visual learners than they are auditory learners so this really makes it clearer.

Also the tick boxes are crossed off when the tasks are complete. This gives him a sense of satisfaction of having completed the task and a visual signal of it being complete. It also breaks the work down into bite size chunks allowing him to not get bogged down in a mountain of work.

Have a Visual Signal For When They are Working Well

When working in lessons we will often have a pad to take down notes or keywords. This is what I use to show him when he is working well or not. I took a little time out one day to make one of the pages really colourful and wrote in big bold words ‘(students name) is working really well!’ and then around it wrote a selection of positive comments like ‘well done’, ‘keep going’ and ‘merit’ amongst others. When he is working well this is open on the desk and when he isn’t it is closed.

Once this has been open for the majority of the lesson then that is considered a successful lesson and if he has all successful lessons in a day he gets an Epraise (a method the school uses for praising students).

He responds really well to this and is eager to keep his pad open at this page for the entire day.

Find a Method that Works and Stick to it

This is very important when working with autistic children because they don’t really like or accept change very well and so if you use the same method to teach them something then they will feel comfortable with it and hopefully the repetition will help them to remember. I’m just going to list a few of the little behavioural techniques that I use.

Often this student will get up out of his seat because he doesn’t always see when it is not acceptable to get up. If this happens I will ask him to sit down and if he doesn’t then I will stand still like a statue and not move or speak until he sits down.

This may not work for everyone but with my student he knows that this is the signal that he is being inappropriate and he should sit down. Once he sits down again I will then re animate and we can then talk normally.

Another one I use for when he is getting either angry or far to hyperactive for the situation is very noticeably change the tone of my voice to calm, slow and deep. Also during this I will give him a set of very simple tasks to perform such as ‘sit down’ or ‘write the title’ one at a time.

Even though he notices I have done this and I told him the reasons why I do it he still responds in the correct way and it makes him calm to see that I am calm and there is no reason to be angry in this situation.

Try and adapt some of these techniques to your own personal situation and then please let us know what you came up with in the comments section.

About Alexander Burgemeester

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