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Classroom Tips for Teaching Students with Autism

written by: Kathy Foust • edited by: Laurie Patsalides • updated: 1/5/2012

Classroom behavior that contributes to off-task behavior for students with autism can be effectively managed if a few simple concepts are used on a regular basis in the classroom. This article offers tips on increasing positive behavior based on how autistic children respond to outside influences.

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    If you have a child in your classroom that has any type of disorder, it would be of great benefit to you to educate yourself on what the disorder involves and read the child's IEP (Individualized Education Plan). In this way you can better manage your classroom and limit the amount of awkwardness felt by you and the child. So, to begin with, read a few things about the characteristics of autism.

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    Teaching Tips for Autism in the Classroom

    It is well known that most children thrive in a stable environment. I cannot stress enough how true this is for autistic children. They are at their best functioning level when things are going as they expect them to go. You the care giver and educator, should be prepared to provide the most comfortable environment possible.

    Naturally, as whenever you deal with human beings, this could take some adjustments. Below are some tips that can help you to promote the best behavior and therefore the most conducive environment for education in your autistic student.

    • Make a schedule and stick to it. If you normally take the children for a bathroom break at 10:00AM, then expect resistance when you change that plan. An autistic child is likely to be looking at the clock as their anxiety increases.
    • Explain expectations in a clear and precise manner. Let the child know what kind of behavior you expect from them and what the results of that behavior will be.
    • Communicate on their level. Autistic children often have difficulty communicating. Keep this in mind and give them ample time to communicate in whatever way they can. Rushing them or expressing your own anxiety can easily create discomfort in the child and lessen the already hampered communication.
    • If the child does become upset, remove them from the situation. For more information, see my article on creating the perfect time-out space.
    • Use colored cards to define behavior. If the child behaves in an inappropriate manner, give them a red card. Three red cards result in the loss of privileges. Give them a blue card for positive behavior. Three blue cards result in a reward.

    These are some simple tips that can help an educator tremendously. These tips can be used with any child, but the specifics of the characteristics of autism warrant a more organized method of communication that is available by using these tips.