About 1 in 100 children have autism, according to the World Health Organization
(WHO). Also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder, autism can present itself in a variety of different ways. These include difficulty with communication and social interaction, in addition to reliance on routines or rules. While this can make going to school difficult for many, there are multiple ways in which both educators and parents alike can make a positive impact. From the multiple benefits of technology to how hybrid learning styles can make a difference, here are just a few ways that we can improve the school experience
for those with ASD.
Small Efforts Can Go A Long Way
When seeking to improve the school experience of a child that experiences Autism Spectrum Disorder, there are several ways that a teacher can contribute to creating an inclusive learning environment. Listening to a parent’s input and suggestions is a great place to start. With a few simple strategies, teachers can make a major difference. The Autism Parenting Magazine, for instance, explains that simply being flexible as an educator can go a long way
. “Being flexible in the right ways, at the right time, can provide a structure conducive to creativity without frustration. Many autistic students can be perfectionists in their work, learning to allow their creativity to flow can be tough on them. If their teacher can inspire them with flexible leadership, they can learn by following that example,” the site notes.
In addition to a healthy dose of flexibility, educators can further aid students on the spectrum by treating students as individuals. Each student with Autism Spectrum Disorder is affected differently. To further highlight this important variable, elemy.com notes that factoring in autism severity
can aid in determining what approaches to take. They explain that while those with level one ASD may generally require minimal support, those with level three ASD will likely require substantial support as they may experience significant challenges regarding aspects like communication.
Hybrid Learning Styles & Individuality
The needs of those with Autism Spectrum Disorder can vary/evolve over time. Therefore, adopting hybrid learning styles can make a major difference in improving a child’s experience in school. Implementing the use of technology is just one way to do this, and makes for a more flexible learning approach. For example, it’s noted that those with ASD learn well from visual media, “Because pictures are their first language while words are their second language
.” Interactive whiteboards are just one example of this, as they can present an easy way to combine visual aids and video
throughout a lesson in conjunction with speech or notation. The use of other tech tools, such as text-to-speech software, can be particularly beneficial for those with ASD. These students may struggle with traditional worksheets or textbooks and this make such materials easier to digest.
Successfully Advocating for your Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Educators can aid greatly in cultivating an inclusive classroom that caters to students who experience Autism Spectrum Disorder. Parents, having an open line of communication with your child’s school is a great way to improve their learning experience. For example, if you notice that your child excels at home with certain learning styles, such as text-to-speech technology, ensuring to communicate this to the school can lead to making such a change in the classroom. The Autism Awareness Centre notes that advocating for your child can be frustrating, noting that patience and persistence are key in doing so successfully
. The Centre suggests doing your own research and offering solutions. In addition, they suggest to bring a list of your child’s difficulties to school meetings, as well as ask when solutions will be implemented. All of this will help to make school a better place for your child.
School can be a challenging place for a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder. There’s always room to improve the classroom and to make it a more inclusive environment. With that in mind, both parents and educators can work together to make a positive change. Learn more about how you can best assist your child by taking Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny’s online class: Working With Children With Special Needs.
About The Author
Briana Hilton spent eleven years working in social care before taking time out to start a family. She has since returned to her first love of writing and enjoys contributing articles to a range of publications on the topics that matter to her.