Children with autism and school often have a strained relationship. Many schools are not equipped with facilities for children with special needs, and teachers may not always be used to working with learning disabilities. Fortunately, there are many ways teachers can make a traditional classroom more welcoming to children with special needs. By integrating a few of these changes into the classroom, teachers can create a more accessible learning environment.
One of the easiest ways to make a big difference for children with learning disabilities in school is to use simple, distinct language. Speaking in short, simple sentences can prevent a student from becoming confused. Avoid using sarcasm and idioms, as these can have the opposite of the desired effect. Giving specific options when asking questions can keep children focused. Asking “Do you want to use the red pen or the blue pen?” instead of “Which pen will you like to use?” will get you a more concise answer.
Keeping classroom activities to a structured schedule can benefit both children with special needs and those without them. Having a set time for each section of your day will help children know what to expect. Provide plenty of notice of impending change, and give students time to transition from one activity to the next.
In addition to set schedules, keeping the classroom tidy and consistent can be an enormous help for children with autism. Clearly labeling different areas for specific activities can help a student feel comfortable and well oriented.
Removing distracting elements from the classroom can help prevent overstimulization. Keeping children with special needs away from chattier students, windows, and brightly-colored displays can help them focus. Be on the look out for signs of autism, such as repetitive behavior. These may indicate that the student does not understand something and needs it to be explained in a different way. He or she may also be feeling overstimulated, and could benefit from a break.
Children with autism and school environments don’t have to constantly be working against each other. Making a classroom special needs friendly is not as difficult as it seems. With assistance from parents, therapists, and other teachers, teaching special needs children can be a rewarding experience for student and instructor alike. Continue reading here.