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Autism Teaching Strategies

Elementary and middle school teaching methods for ASDs parents can use at home

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Grade School: The Child as an Individual

Whether you are teaching a child with or without an autism spectrum disorder, differentiating instruction is essential. 

Addressing each child’s unique strengths and needs is key to maximizing potential. Some children benefit from visual cues while others respond to auditory prompts. No two are the same. The sooner you make adjustments and ensure that a child is able to grasp the concept in a manner that is accessible to him, the more he will learn and grow.

Many children enjoy mixed mediums, a fact I take into consideration when planning my elementary-grade lessons. For example, I will utilize the Smartboard, select a story to read and prepare a hands-on activity. One student may find videos and visuals the most meaningful. A hyperlexic student will absorb the most information through reading. A third is most responsive to learning through tactile manipulatives. As a bonus, all three students likely will get something extra out of every avenue of instruction.

This all fits into a trait we attempt to develop: flexibility. Life always will be filled with unexpected moments and schedule changes. It is important to instill a sense of resilience so kids with ASDs can learn to process and adapt to unanticipated circumstances. 

I find all my students benefit from a visual schedule. They can see what comprises their day and how it will take shape. To keep them on their toes, I will sporadically flip two blocks, announcing, “We will do health now, then math.” Some get visibly frazzled, but they eventually become more and more accommodating, bouncing back quicker and quicker. Teachable moments built into daily life hold the possibility to imbue positive behavior and character traits.

That said, everyone can benefit from a little structure. The establishment of routines keeps efforts focused, promotes sound decision-making and ultimately enhances the ability to self-regulate. Children especially thrive on routines. The best tip I can impart to parents is to leverage this innate inclination, for it is one of your greatest advantages. 

For example, create a visual chart to assist with bedtime: Brush teeth, dress in pajamas, read one story, give hugs and kisses, get in bed to sleep. Your child will reference this chart, work within the framework and begin to look forward to the routine. A routine can assume any shape, can be adjusted as needed and will yield gratifying, long-lasting results.

Next page: Middle school teaching methods for kids with ASDs

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