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Autism Awareness

From time to time students will tell me that they have a child in their class with autistic tendencies. Without seeking the advice of a professional we should not be labelling the child but should be working with him or her as an individual as we would any other child.

A little research on working with children who have autism can help us to put strategies in place and many of these strategies will also be beneficial for the other children in our class.

People with autism like structure, therefore it is important that you have a structured daily routine so that the child knows what is coming next.

A visual timetable on the wall can support the child through the transitions of the day.

A child with autism tends to think visually so, as well as the visual time table, use other visual cues throughout the day to give instructions. Move away from too much talking as verbal information can take time to process and sequence.

An autistic child may well be sensitive to sound and light, therefore a quiet environment with natural light can help the child to focus. Set up an area where the child can go to find some peace and make sure that your classroom management takes these needs into account. Keep the environment calm and speak to the children using a calm voice, lots of visual cues and demonstrations and giving instructions step by step.

To help the child sit still, you can give them an object to fiddle with - place a heavy pillow on their lap or provide them with a sensory cushion to sit on.

Remember to spend time with the child supporting the development of their social skills, these skills may not come naturally and therefore will need to be taught.

It is important to stay positive with the child and work closely with your colleagues and the child’s parents.

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