The simplest routines and lesson plans require careful planning when introducing them to an autistic child. Autistic children require special needs when learning, and there are ways to modify lessons so they can successfully be taught. There is no one way to structure classrooms with autistic children, however there are many strategies used in classrooms all over the world that provide a comfortable atmosphere for these children to learn according to their level.
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Using visuals rather than words in a classroom provides autistic children with a better understanding of what is going on around the room. Instructions, activities, stations, objects and classroom areas should be labelled with a photograph of each step or process taking place in that particular section. When handing out worksheets, use those with pictures that explain and give examples of what should be done on the sheet.
Independent Work Stations
Autistic children work well under a structured routine, so creating independent work stations will give them the ability to complete tasks on their own. To create a successful workstation, clear directions for the station should be posted using visuals to show the student how to complete the task from start to finish. Choose activities that will interest the student and require little difficulty to successfully complete the task.Set up each station the same way with materials in one location, instructions displayed in another location and a place to put finished products when students have completed the task.
Autistic children are easily distracted, so arrange the classroom in such a way that distractions can be avoided. Loud noises, drips, creaks or squeaks seem minor to many people, but to a child with autism, they are large distractions. Monitor the classroom atmosphere and replace any light fixtures that may flicker or a chair that squeaks when a student sits down or gets up. Avoid abrupt routine changes by allowing enough time to transition each student slowly and quietly.
Children with autism perform better when a consistent schedule is in place. Explain the schedule to the child and create visual time lines each day so the child is prepared and aware of what happens next. List assignments clearly so the child knows what has to be done on that particular day and in what order. Schedule frequent breaks from learning and provide enough time to put away supplies from one area before rushing them off to the next task. Allow free time with limited options for the student to choose from. When chaos occurs, an autistic child will become anxious, so sticking to a strict routine limits the amount of stress put on the child.
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