What is Autism?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disability; signs typically appear during early childhood and affect a person’s ability to communicate, and interact with others.
Learning with Autism
The process of learning can be much more complex for autistic children. If you have experience caring for someone with autism or have autism yourself, you will already know this is the case. The degree to which children will struggle depends on where they are on the autism spectrum.
Children who have autism will have a different developmental journey from other children since they often have difficulties interacting and communicating. These difficulties mean that language development can be slower. Consequently, this can result in children finding it hard to understand tasks or follow instructions. Autistic children may also struggle to express how they feel or respond to direct questions. With this in mind, teachers and support staff should adapt their lessons to cater to these children. Adaptions can include the use of visual prompts to encourage language development.
The classroom environment itself can often be a challenge for autistic children since many will struggle with social interactions. Sometimes children with autism perform best when they have their own designated space. And where they are free to learn in a manner that suits them. Autistic children also tend to exhibit repetitive behaviours and can become fixated on particular subjects. These particular subjects are known as restricted interests. This fixation can be useful, as teachers can draw on these interests to aid the learning process. A child who is especially keen on dinosaurs, for example, is likely to be much more enthusiastic learning when information is associated with this interest.
Did you know: About 1% of the UK population has autism spectrum disorder. (Brugha T.S. et al., 2011)
Understanding and you
If you have an interest in working with children with specific learning needs, such as autism, you may wish to consider the Additional Support for Children with Special Education Needs (SEN) and the Understanding Autism Level 2 Certificate QCF (NVQ) distance learning courses offered by Oxbridge Home Learning.
These specialised courses will teach you strategies for preparing lessons and teaching materials and introduce approaches to helping pupils develop confidence in their ability to learn and exhibit positive behaviour.