Supporting a child with Autism
Throughout my time in Mainstream Education, I worked with several children who had Dyspraxia. For an Ofsted Visit we were due I created some How to help leaflets for various SEN barriers that children may have.
This is about how to support a child with Autism.
Autism is a difference in thinking style. Children who have an autistic thinking style see the world in a different way from the majority of other children. This means that their behaviour sometimes seems odd and difficult to understand.
It also means that they will learn about the World in a different way.
Children who have a barrier to their learning and on the autistic spectrum require an appropriate education that will help them understand and function effectively in the World where we live, that will encourage their need to engage and communicate with others and that respects the culture in which they live.
Autism can affect their communication skills, their behaviour and their social skills.
Possible areas of difficulty ;-
- Have a high area of anxiety
- Apparent uninterest in other people
- Subtle difficulties in understanding what other people really think, especially when they have said something open to interpretation.
- Difficulties in communication thoughts and feelings - this can be in a number of ways from frustration of children who want something but do not think to tell anyone to the problems of those who would like to make friends but who always seem to say the wrong thing.
- Inflexibility of thinking or behaviour - they will insist on sticking with the familiar routines.
- Unusual interests or a fascination with the perceptual properties of objects or with abstract ideas such as time.
- Difficulty in finding connections and drawing them together into a relevant thread or social narrative.
Some strategies :-
- Consider how you speak to the child; Do they understand what you are saying? Do you need to give more information
- Be specific
- Try to ensure that you only give information / instructions when you are giving the child your full attention and they are listening.
- It is important to address the child with their name.
- Do not shout across the class or give instructions when the child is doing something else.
- Do not change the instructions halfway through.
- If you are regularly giving the same information you could write it down and then refer the child to the list wach time he/she asks.
- Do not use ambiguous words or terms. Words like 'silly' and 'naughty' do not mean anything to a pupil with aspergers.
- If a child is doing something wrong, tell him/her what they should be doing instead.
- Children with Autism are similar to children with Aspergers. They need to have structure in their lives.
- Anything unusual that is going to happen, for example a change of teacher, should be explained to a child in advance. This is really important.
- Have high expectations.
- Be flexibile - especially in accepting and responding to 'odd' behaviour
- Stay calm and avoid shoutng.
- Have a clear structure to the day or lesson
- Use visual aids, a visual timetable and a homework diary.
- Allow the child to sit at the end of the table or row, or on his/her own to preserve their personal space.
- Look out for Sensory sensitivity (eg bright lights, smells, noise, textures, tastes, touch) This may be an issue with swimming, art, cooking
- Be precise with instructions.
- Explain metaphors and any figurative language you may use
- Build computer access into as many lessons as possible, they prove a break from the demands of social interaction and often enable a child to excel.
- Reward effort and achievement as you would for any pupil, but with particular attention to the child with Aspergers Syndrome whose 'oddness' may mean that he/she is less popular then other. He/she nees to develop their confidence and self esteem