Teaching children is an arduous task in itself, but if the child in question is autistic then the job gets tad more difficult. Teaching the autistic children should be a joint and collaborative venture of the teacher and the parent. The responsibility of teaching these children should not be left solely to the teachers, but parents must participate in it actively and help the teacher in formulating the teaching plan. It is already a known fact that autism is a neurological developmental disorder which makes these children extremely slow learners. These children take longer to understand and process the information of the texts and also to grasp the alphabets and combine them into words. Hence, in their teaching method repetition plays a very important role, although at times it might put the patience of the teacher at test.
Since autism prevents proper cognitive development of these children, it comes as no surprise that it acts as a contributing factor to their poor academic performance. It is beyond their power to get a hold on various concepts and ideas. Although they can join the letters to make a word with difficulty, but they can hardly make out the meaning of the text they are reading. That is why the most effective way of teaching these children is to incorporate a lot of cheerful and interactive activities like dance and music in their curriculum.
One important thing to remember when undertaking the task of teaching Autistic children is that most of the children think in terms of visual representation. It is difficult for them to make sense of the isolated words, but when these words are represented through pictures, they find it easier to understand. So using audio-visual teaching aid to teach these children will serve a very useful purpose. When trying to make them learn the concept of number, it is advisable to use math toy which will facilitate better understanding.
While instructing them on something, make sure you keep it clear, short and specific, as giving them long and winded instruction will serve them no good and will simply go over their head. Often it is found that these children exhibit good skills in art, music or computer. In that case, use them as much as possible to let them have a better understanding of the subject.
These teaching methods are not same for all autistic children. It is possible that one child will learn better through one particular technique than through the others. So teaching them is more like a trial and error method. You have to apply different teaching methods in order to know through which method they learn best. While some children will learn better with the help of images, others might respond better to the pronunciation-based teaching method. But the best way to teach them is the way they prefer to learn through which requires an understanding of the child’s needs, choices and temperament. As a teacher, your duty will be to find out the method that they are adapting quickly.
These learning techniques are not generic for all the children. They may differ with others and you should be patient to find the right approach. It is quite unlikely that you can teach them with conventional teaching style. Few children find pictorial images to be more interactive, while others find pronunciation to be more helpful. The best way is to try different approaches and find the right method and apply the technique in teaching. Try to understand what the child expects and what is amusing for him. If you are expecting something realistic, you are going wrong.