Back in 2000, there were less than 100,000 autistic students who were under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which is a federal law necessitating free education for young adults and children with disabilities.
However, in 2018, this number increased to 700,000 students.
The prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has significantly increased in the US in the past two decades. That means it is extremely important for educators to stay equipped with the learning techniques required for educating autistic children.
With the right teaching methodology and technique, these children can develop skills and become potential employees for several job roles.
Therefore, this article will explore five effective teaching methods that can help autistic children develop valuable skills for the future.
5 Effective Teaching Methods for Autistic Children
While ASD is a developmental disorder, it is not a learning disability. This means that it is easier to teach autistic children when compared to children with other disabilities, such as dyslexia. However, educators may still face challenges due to autistic symptoms like difficulty in communication, poor social interaction, impaired non-verbal communication, etc.
Some methods that can help overcome these challenges are:
1. Rewards and Incentives
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is a widely utilized treatment for autistic children, which works by offering incentives and rewards when positive behaviors are employed.
In a recent study in 2020, it was found that long-term ABA interventions prove beneficial for children with ASD in improving lifelong behaviors. This includes communication, socialization, and expressive language as the promising areas of development under this method.
While only specific professionals can become ABA therapists, every educator can implement the basic reward and incentive program in their classroom for optimized outcomes.
2. Limited Sensory Overload
Sensory overload in the classroom, such as shouting, humming, laughing, blinking lights, and more, can cause autistic children to lose focus. These distractions may make them feel demotivated, causing an environment that is not favorable for learning and development.
While it may not be possible to remove every distraction from the classroom, teachers can minimize distractions and sensory overload to help autistic children focus.
For example, eliminating crowded lines, ensuring appropriate sunlight, and talking softly in a soothing tone.
3. Appropriate Feedback
Autistic children experience communication difficulties, which means offering feedback may demotivate these children. Therefore, educators should ensure providing feedback in a soothing tone and simple language. Don’t use metaphors or jargon. It would help to offer directions with the feedback to avoid misunderstandings.
For example, in place of saying, ‘This is wrong,’ you can say, ‘While this is good work, you can also do it like this.’
4. Specific Routine
Unpredictable schedules and surprises may make autistic children anxious. Hence, it makes sense to create a routine for these children, which helps them judge what’s next. They should know what they are going to learn, when is lunch, and so on. This will help them adjust according to the routine and avoid distress due to uncertain situations.
Educators can also make sure they create a routine for uncertain situations, such as an absent teacher. Students should know what will they do when their class teacher is not present.
5. Reading Comprehension
It may be difficult for autistic children to learn to read. While this is not a learning disorder, their behavioral and communication barriers may cause this. Therefore, at an early age, it is necessary to promote reading.
- Cultivate reading habits
- Choose reading material that is simple and relatable
- Encourage parents to ensure at-home reading session
Ensuring effective teaching methods for children with ASD can help them develop skills necessary for the job market. This will allow these children to become independent as they grow up and live a healthy and high-quality life.