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Although all children need special care and attention, children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have special learning needs. As a teacher or a parent to a child with autism, it is important to learn and understand the needs of autistic children to help them develop better. Below are some exceptional tips for helping autistic children with developmental skills.
1. Create A Structured Environment Or Routines
Children with autism are always sensitive to abrupt changes in their regular routines. Hence, it is always advisable to create a structured environment or a routine to foster their developmental skills. You can create a structured environment by sticking to a schedule, being consistent, and rewarding any good behavior.
Consequently, the structured environment helps the child to identify subsequent activities so that they can prepare and anticipate the activities. In case you want to introduce a change in the regular schedule, it is always important to give the child an advanced warning so that it does not catch them off-guard.
2. Create An Environment That Is Free From Stimulating Factors
According to developmental pediatricians, creating an environment that is free from stimulating factors. Children with autism may feel overwhelmed when they find themselves in an environment with sensory stimulation like constant noise, touch, bright lights, and crowds. Since these sensory stimulants trigger some reactions, it is important to eliminate the stimulating factors as a means to encourage their developmental goals.
3. Use Visual Cues To Communicate
The majority of children with autism respond quickly to visual learning rather than through verbal communication. Hence, using visual cues like line drawings, language builder picture cards, and photographs helps the children to learn and retain some skills. The use of “first-then” and “if-then” cues encourage them to engage in activities they less prefer.
The cue help in illustrating the activities or task that need to be completed first before they engage in their preferred activities. Pictures, online videos, and tutorials can also be used to demonstrate different concepts and help in memorability among children with autism. While using these picture cues, it is also important to commit to visual schedules for routines and tasks.
4. Break Down Tasks Into Simple Steps
Most children with autism find it difficult to plan and execute a task. However, breaking the task into easy steps without giving too much information at once. Breaking the instructions into easy steps helps the child to ‘hear’ and understand the steps taken to accomplish a task. Using songs to teach instructions also helps children to remember where and how they are supposed to be completing a task. Picture checklists also help children to follow through with the instructions and see what steps have been completed.
5. Make Use Of Sensory Tools
Children with autism are likely to have certain sensory preferences. A child with autism may fall on a spectrum of sensory processing and have their own seeking tendencies, avoidance tendencies, and sensitivities. Hence it is important to identify sensory preferences and the tool that will help them cope. Most occupational therapists use ABA therapy to identify the sensory preferences of individual children with autism.
An ABA therapy in Michigan or any state near you can help in studying the behavior of an autistic child and consequently help identify the most suitable sensory tools. Once the therapist identifies the preferable sensory preference, it is important to devise tools that will assist the child in incorporating sensory activities into daily routines. The sensory tools include a chewy fidget, weighted lap pad, body sock, and noise-cancelling headphones among others.
6. Give Autistic Children Extra Time To Respond
Children with ASD may not respond immediately to you when you use direct language. Hence, you must practice and give them time before they respond. Giving them extra time to respond helps them absorb and internalize what you have said at their own pace. If you try to rephrase your instructions or hurry them into responding, you may slow down further since they will start reprocessing.
7. Support The Practice Of Social Skills
Children with autism may find it difficult to develop social skills. Consequently, social skill practice is particularly critical for children with autism. Encouraging social interactions help children with ASD to develop the skills and knowledge necessary for effective social interactions.
Generally, children with autism require different teaching methods and techniques to grow their developmental skills. However, each child requires a different technique since they respond differently to the teaching methods. In case you need more guidance on how to help autistic children with developmental skills, it is important to consult a doctor or occupational therapist.