What are some strategies for teaching autistic children?


Quick Answer

Strategies for teaching autistic children include setting up a daily routine, speaking literally, keeping instructions simple, giving only a few choices at a time, and having the student repeat or paraphrase what you just said. Tools and technology can enhance learning and make it easier for an autistic student to navigate through the day.

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Full Answer

Autistic children feel more comfortable when they know what to expect. Establishing a daily schedule provides structure and lets the child know what is coming next. Warn children of a change in a routine before it happens. For example, if the child normally goes outside for recess but cannot that day because of rain, tell him at the start of the day that the class is staying inside for recess because of the rain.

Autistic children have trouble interpreting idioms and sarcasm, so it is best to speak plainly and literally. Explicitly teach the meaning of any commonly used idioms. Avoid sarcasm because autistic kids tend to think you mean the exact words you use.

When giving instructions, give as few instructions as necessary at one time to avoid overloading the child. For example, instruct the child to open his book to page 96, but refrain from adding extra details such as what the page is about or next steps.

Too many options may confuse an autistic child. Offer two or three specific choices rather than a range or rather than asking an open-ended question such as "what shall we do next?"

To check whether the child understands something you tell him, ask him to tell you what you just said. If his version diverges from yours, you can quickly correct his understanding.

Tools helpful in teaching autistic children include pictures on documents such as behavior charts, color-coded folders for each subject and computer programs.

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