What Is Autism?
Typically, students with Autism have significantly impaired social and communication development. Autistic children show minimal interest in most, and in some cases all learning and social situations. Autism affects thought, attention and perception. This is a disorder by which there are a wide variety of symptoms ranging from mild to severe. When a child has many autistic tendencies yet fails to meet the criteria for autism, chances are the diagnosis will be PDD. More males then to be affected than females.
- Students with autism should be with their same age peers as much as is possible. However, most will require very extensive support.
- The child should have a safe and predictable environment.
- The environment should have minimal transitions and stimulus.
- Consistent routines and procedures should be in place as much as possible
- Provide many verbal and visual cues and supports to help with routines
- Keep distratctions and sensory/stimulus activites to a minimal
- Focus on very specific strategies - 1 or 2 at a time that will promote independence as much as possible
- Use behavior modification techniques
- Communication needs to be the main priority
- Teach specific skills explicitly using a behavior modification technique - use the student's behavior as your basis for teaching
- Provide incentives and reinforcement that is completely individualized for your autistic student.
In addition to the above strategies, autistic students will often have a variety of support personnel available which include:
- speech/language pathologists
- special education staff
- board level staff
- occupational and or physio therapists
- educational assistants
Believe in your students, much can be done to help a child with autism. The earlier supports are in place, the better the outcome will be. A consistent effort and a great deal of patience will help to pave the road to your student's success.