Teaching and learning for kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) exhibit repetitive behaviours. They also have difficulty with communication and social interaction. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 169 children have ASD. It is possible to diagnose ASDs by the age of 2. While some people can live independently with ASD, others require lifelong support and care.

Life can get particularly challenging for parents with an ASD child. A child having ASD has a different way of perceiving communication. Everything is very literal for them. Communication style and a routine-based lifestyle is most important for an ASD child. Below are points to be incorporated in the teaching and learning process of children with ASD:

Maintain an organized routine: A comfortable routine keeps ASD children calm and composed. Having a pre-decided time table and activity will be benefit the child. Meanwhile, make activities, topics on the board clear, organized and separated with broad lines.

Preparation time for changes: For sudden changes give them a heads up. This way they are prepared and not panicked in this situation. Indeed mark the time table and slowly implement the change. Keep it organized and give them some time to prepare.

Incorporate special interests: Children with ASD love to learn something special everyday. It keeps them busy and they are also learning something new. Hence mark such activities and come up with interesting way for them to do it. Encourage the child to learn more. You can also do role playing with them. Make them draw, speak the character voice, ignite there imagination in storytelling. You can also encourage them with bonus points and gift.

Positive reinforcement: It is important to use only positive reinforcement. Negative reinforcement will usually create stress and cause children to shut down completely.

Activity based learning: Use activity interactive learning techniques. When they do something with there hands, they are very keen. IT brings a joy. This approach is better than academic learning. Include learning tools that stimulate multiple senses that makes learning fun and interactive.

Sensorial sensitivity: Children with ASD are sensitive to sensory stimuli. Sudden buzzing sounds, bright colours, flashy lights etc. are a big NO for such children. So, try and avoid such situations as far as possible.

Communicate literally: Have you seen the character of ‘Sheldon Cooper’ from the web series Big bang theory?  Situations with ASD children can experience similar outbursts. Keep a direct soothing communication. Avoid sarcasm or negative talk. Sign boards and pictures are the best way to keep the communication clear.

Social skill development: Every child loves to play. And playing is a social activity. But for ASD children this social interaction is challenging. Therefore, teachers and parents must closely support while encouraging ASD children in socializing and playing. Keep a fixed time for play. For instance, going to the park, interaction with a specific friend etc. must be on the timetable.

Be patient: Many a times, it might look like the child is not listening to you. And it will frustrate you as a teacher and even as a parent. Here the ASD child understands and listens to you. They need time to process the information and react. Be patient and allow them time to explore.

Finally, AHD children are special and unique with there own learning abilities. Giving them the right support helps them stay calm. Approach experts and come up with new learning methdologies.

Recommendation: Dr. Harshita Misra (Founder & Clinical Head, Mom’s Belief Samvedna Centre)

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