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Learning Ways to Teach Children With Autism

written by: Jack O. Rella • edited by: Lamar Stonecypher • updated: 8/29/2012

Many special education teachers who work with children with autism are searching for ways to make their classroom the most productive they can. Here we will take a look at special education teaching tips that will help make a classroom work better.

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    Instituting the Concept of Structure

    Special education teaching should start as early as possible for children with autism. They need to become accustomed to a structured approach to life early on. This will usually require special education teachers to prepare to spend some extra time directly with these children. This helps them establish a sense of routine and regularity in their activities.

    It can be as simple as having the child learn how to take turns in a group activity. This will show the child that things are accomplished in steps and that each step is as important as the other. Once they understand this concept, they will be better prepared to implement this attitude in all of the other activities of their daily lives.

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    Learning Differences With Autism

    Many autistic children and adults compose their thoughts in a visual way more so than by language. A special education teacher can use this to help the child learn better. Picture representations and physical demonstrations to explain a topic are how to teach special education students with autism. Flash cards are very helpful in this approach.

    This is another extra step the special education teacher must take and it is important to streamline a curriculum for autistic students for the teacher’s sake as much as for the student. Special education teacher burnout can be avoided by developing a specific teaching plan well in advance of the start of the school term that the teacher can familiarize themselves with easily.

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    Reducing Distractions

    Special education teaching for autistic children must take into consideration the added sensitivity issue. Many autistic children are extremely sensitive to loud noises and so sounds such as the classroom bell or announcements over the public address system need to be anticipated. This may be addressed by muffling the source of the sound. Lighting can also distract autistic children. Fluorescent lighting in particular can be a problem. Changing light sources when possible or seating the child in an area away from light distractions can be helpful in special education teaching.

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    Special Classroom Equipment

    Penmanship can be a challenge for autistic children. Today’s classrooms tend to have more computers and this is ideal. The child can use a computer for writing as well as math calculations. A computer can even be used for assignment preparations, where the special education teacher can copy written instructions, along with visual aids, onto a CD that the child can use.

    Autism can be addressed successfully in the classroom. As long as steps are taken in advance to allow for extra time and effort required, special education teacher burnout can be avoided.