When it comes to working with children who have been diagnosed with autism, a special form of understanding and training is required. Read the following article on the different aspects of the same and get a clear understanding of what this job needs.
Autism is a developmental disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain. A person who has ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) will have abnormal development of social interaction and communication skills. This condition usually affects a person in the first 3 years of his life and thereby makes adjustment difficult. The symptoms that autism produces can be different for different people, and that is why it is referred to as a wide spectrum disorder. When it comes to working with children with autism, there needs to be a different approach adopted than the one that is adopted when working with normal children. In the sections that follow, we will look at some of the key factors that need to be considered while taking up the task of working with autistic children. Continue reading for a more detailed account of the same.
Symptoms of Autism
To understand the gravity of this disorder and why severe or mild autism in children needs to be handled in a different way, we have to first understand what the autism symptoms in children are. Given below is a brief account of these symptoms.
- They have very low social skills. For example, they won’t know how to make eye contact, interact with people, and/or pay attention when another person is speaking to them.
- Their actions are usually clumsy.
- They have very little or no understanding of the difference between right and wrong comments.
- They do not like physical contact with others. It needs to be a learned trait.
- Children with autism are not very empathetic to others’ needs.
- Depending on the severity of the disorder, their speech may be affected. While some speak very little, often repeating phrases, others who are severely affected will not speak at all.
- They often follow and stick to a particular routine and might even repeat a particular action over and over again. A change in this is not well received.
- These children will not learn all the necessary skills, like motor, language, and social skills at the same time. While one skill develops, the other will lag behind.
- Many autistic children have obsessions.
- They might have physical tics.
- Some centers of their brain may be better developed than others, such that they might be able to learn particular things faster than well-developed children.
Children who suffer from autism cannot decipher the world in a normal way, the way in which well-developed humans can. Therefore, depending on the different levels of autism, whether it is mild autism or severe autism, their everyday activities are affected. In the remainder of this article, we will be talking about what working with autistic children involves.
Working with Children with Autism in the Classroom
The symptoms of autism should’ve made it clear to you the very basis of why the task of working with autistic children needs to be handled in a different way. They cannot be taught like normally developed children can, because that will not really help. Refer to the pointers given below for a clearer understanding of how to work with children who have been diagnosed with autism.
- Do not give autistic children long-drawn verbal instructions because they will not be able to grasp them. Try a different approach like writing them down so that it does not confuse the child.
- Different activities for children with autism should be encouraged. So also, it is important to encourage their talent and skills. Some might be great at drawing, others at painting. Encouraging them helps them gain confidence and can be turned into skills that will help them in later life as well.
- Take help of visual aids like pictures and clips to explain concepts and meanings to them. This helps because many autistic children think in terms of pictures and drawings and are therefore able to grasp the concepts better.
- Identify shrill and loud sounds that disturb and shock these children and find ways of either completely eliminating the sounds or find ways of slowly getting the child to deal with them. If this is not done, it might strike an irrational fear of the object in them and encourage bad behavior.
- There have to be specialized autism teaching strategies learned so that one is better able to reach them―talking to some autistic students in a calm voice and whispers is known to help them become more receptive.
- Showing them tapes with the captions written at the bottom of the screen will help them grasp the concept better―something that mere speech might not.
- Explaining behavioral rules is more difficult when it comes to autistic children. They need to be taught these over and over again, taking it very slowly. Overwhelming them with too many demands and things that work all their senses at once is not going to get you anywhere.
- Learn to accept all the ‘quirky’ behavior that the child does, like flapping or swinging about. Shouting at the child and asking them to behave is only going to thwart their progress.
There are several careers that involve working with children who have autism, teaching is not the only choice to make. It has to be understood that autistic children are the way they are because their rate of development is not as fast as the other children. Therefore, understanding that they need to be handled in a different, more mature way is the key. Only when one realizes this will there ever be a chance of teaching and handling their development and growth effectively.
Disclaimer – This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for the advice of a mental health expert.