ASD is the term used to describe the variables of autism. While there is a wide range of differences among children with an ASD, they share common impairments in the ability to:
◗ interact socially and appropriately;
◗ understand and use language and to communicate;
◗ think imaginatively, enjoy and participate in a range of activities; often shown in repetitive and restricted behaviour patterns.
Children with an ASD also differ in their intellectual abilities. Many have severe learning difficulties and are educated in special schools, while others have average or above abilities and are taught in mainstream schools. Those with a higher level of ability are described as having Asperger’s Syndrome or high functioning autism
Top Teaching Tips
◗ Get to know the child as an individual. Understand his autism and assess how it interrupts his learning. Use his strengths to teach new skills.
◗ Give the child an opportunity to explain a situation from his point of view. A good idea is to share viewpoints using visual information such as ‘comic strip conversations’.
◗ Cut down on the amount of language you use when giving instructions. Keep the instructions clear, simple and direct. Avoid idioms. Tell the child what should be done rather than what should not be done.
◗ Emphasise routine and structure. Teaching strategies which incorporate visual structure and clarity will be of great help.
◗ Set targets that are realistic, attainable and short term.
◗ Teach social skills as they do not come naturally.
◗ Keep all staff informed of the strategies you are using. Encourage consistency in the implementation of strategies.
◗ Establish regular communication between home and school: this is of paramount importance.
◗ Do not be afraid to make mistakes, this is a learning process.
◗ A calm disposition and a sense of humour are helpful!