How to support a child with autism in the classroom?
Students with autism can present unique challenges for their teachers who need to effectively meet their needs.
It is vital that teachers are well-equipped to deal with these challenges and are aware of the best possible ways to support a child with autism in the classroom.
What is Autism?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or autism is a developmental disability that can cause significant social communication and behavioural challenges.
It affects a child’s social abilities as well as anything from speech to non-verbal communication and can make their behaviour unpredictable. Of course, it’s not their fault and they are often blessed with high intelligence and unique strengths that only heighten the challenge of bringing out their best.
So how can you as a teacher support a child with autism in the classroom effectively? Here are some tips that you can follow:
It all starts with the child’s parents
The primary carer at home, be it mum or dad, know all the likes, the dislikes, and the particular behavioural triggers. Sure, they’re not professionals, but they’re the true heart of an autistic child, the heart an autistic child may or may not be able to express themselves.
They have the history of good and bad reactions to every experience and stimulation. They have the experience of the good and bad results trying to deal with sometimes confounding reactions.
They have some immediate pointers, even if they don’t always work. Anything that works 3 times out of 10 is better than blind guesswork with no results. So do all your groundwork with the people who know the child best and equip yourself with some useful pointers on dealing with tough situations.
Study all assessments
Again, you can get these from the parents. Any autism assessment or reports on your student will be quite useful and help you know more about them so take the time to study it thoroughly.
One thing you can guarantee with an autistic student is that they’re going to be unpredictable. The more data you have on exactly how they’ve been unpredictable in the past, the more predictable they’ll become.
Getting assistance from a Teacher Aide
If you don’t already have an assistant in the classroom, a Teacher Aide can make all the difference. A Teacher Aide is a qualified professional with many of the educational and interactive learning skills you have.
Not only can they help with the day-to-day masterminding of everything from activities and coursework planning to exam marking and essay critiquing, they can assist you in caring for the autistic student in the classroom.
With a Teacher Aide in place, all your students can get ahead on schedule and your autistic student has the helping hand they need to keep up.
Interested in a teaching career? Find out how to become a Teacher Aide and what the daily duties and qualifications for this role are.
Have a set plan for meltdowns
You will likely meet with challenges in the classroom and need to be best prepared to meet them. Autistic children go into sensory overload and there’s nothing you can do to stop that. What you can do is minimise the emotion for them and everyone else.
Have a plan and a place where your autistic student can go with your Teacher Aide whenever they need to, and as soon as they need to. The Teacher Aide can simply take the student off to wherever it might be – the library or schoolyard – and reassure them away from prying eyes until it’s time to go back.
Educate the rest of the class
The worst thing an autistic child can be subjected to is a classroom of kids being what kids can unfortunately be: cruel. So explain autism to your kids, your class. Tell them exactly what it is and make them aware of this condition.