Ranking The Five Best Teaching Strategies for Autism
Anyone who is in a place of having to educate others has a huge responsibility on their shoulders. Being a teacher, whether to elementary, middle school, high school, or college students, is a significant undertaking.
When you are dealing with children who do not have any major conditions or challenges, the task of teaching them is still difficult. Teachers have to contend with large class sizes, children not on the same learning level as others in the class, and other distractions.
Adding children going through autism therapy into the mix can make the situation even more complex. Some students on the spectrum attend regular classes, while others are put in specific schools or classes by their parents where they can get the attention they need.
Whether you have children on the spectrum in your class or specifically teach classes with only autistic kids, you may be wondering how best to get through to them.
Below is our ranking of the top five teaching strategies for autism.
1. Keep It Short and Simple
You may have heard the phrase KISS when in the education system. While the acronym may sound silly, the messaging is very important. Keep It Short and Simple is the best way to teach anyone who may have learning difficulties, including those on the autism spectrum.
Those on the spectrum can have a range of learning abilities, going from people who are incredibly skilled and easily pick up on new skills to those who struggle a great deal to learn the basics. Keeping everything simple for a class is the ideal way to ensure that everyone is learning at a steady pace.
Ensure that your communication is clear and concise. Do not add innuendos, jokes, or metaphors to your language, as those who are on the spectrum do not have the easiest time picking up on such social and language cues.
2. Say What You Mean
One of the interesting aspects of engaging with those on the autism spectrum is that they often take what you say very literally. If you tell someone that if they misbehave, you will expel them, but if you do not do so, then you are allowing them to think that you are a liar.
Ensure that you are not issuing any empty threats or platitudes to people who are on the spectrum. Only say what you mean and what you can back up with facts or actions. Avoid using any phrases that may be confusing, such as “pull up your socks” or “use your head to answer a question,” as these may not make much sense to those on the spectrum.
3. Time, Time, Time
Studies have shown that people who are on the spectrum can learn to the same extent as people who are not autistic. The only difference is that some people on the spectrum need more time to grasp and properly understand the information they are told.
If you are teaching someone on the spectrum, you must go slowly and ensure they have enough time to digest and absorb the information you are providing. If you go through a lesson at a racer’s speed, you may find they are not retaining much information.
4. Understand Their Perspective
A person on the autism spectrum may have a personality that tends to seek order. Students on the spectrum may want to sit at a specific desk, use a specific pen, or answer a question in a specific order in front of the class. You may think this is unusual behavior, but you have to put yourself in the mind and shoes of the person you are educating.
Indulging those on the spectrum in this way may allow you to get through to them better than you had anticipated. When they are able to have the order in their life they are seeking, they will be in a much better mindset to be productive in class and learn the material on hand.
5. Get Support
If you are in an educational system where many children on the spectrum are not getting the education you believe they deserve, then reach out to those above you for support. Talk to the parents, parent associations, superintendent and principal, other teachers, and donors. Explore any and every avenue that would allow you to get more funding, more time with the students, and more assistance from others in the school.
Taking on the role of educator for those on the spectrum is not straightforward in the least. While you are not their therapist, and they must get autism therapy through a professional, you are in a unique position to teach them and help shape their worldview. If a student in your class does not have a therapist, you can always talk to their parents and provide them with information about local therapists.
Take on this challenge as if it is a privilege, get to know your students, think about the world from their perspective, and do your best to teach in a way that would be conducive to their learning.