Young female art teacher working with autistic child

Whether your own son or daughter was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at a young age or you recently began teaching children on the spectrum, understanding their specific needs may be overwhelming at the forefront. Working on ways to be a more dedicated source of support can help you succeed as a caretaker and build a bridge between autistic children and everyday hurdles.

Before providing actionable tips on your journey to working with autistic children, let’s take a closer look at what defines autism for parents and teachers looking for a more thorough explanation.

Understanding Autism

The National Institute of Mental Health defines ASD as a “neurological and developmental disorder that affects how people interact with others, communicate, learn, and behave.”

Since common symptoms tend to appear between birth and the age of two, it’s technically considered a developmental disorder. However, this doesn’t limit the age range in which someone can become diagnosed. People with autism can be diagnosed at any stage of their life.

Adults and children with ASD are most likely to display symptoms that involve difficulties with social communication and restrictive behaviors. It’s important to note that not all people with ASD display the same signs of the condition – that’s why it’s referred to as a spectrum. Someone with ASD may display most of these symptoms, or very few, to still be considered on the spectrum:

  • Refusing eye contact
  • Showing minimal interest in discussion and interaction with others
  • Displaying awkward facial expressions and gestures during conversation
  • Showing difficulty in change of schedule
  • Repeating words or phrases regularly
  • Showing more sensitivity to sensory activity

Issues with sleep and irritability issues are other symptoms that a child or adult may experience if they are autistic.

How to Work with Kids with Autism

Helping your students or your own child with autism navigate life is made easier with guidance. Consider these tips for working with kids with autism:

Establish Solid Routines

Working with children with autism starts with establishing a strong, consistent routine. When you show consistency in the way you interact with your child, you may have an easier time navigating strong behaviors.

Following a routine makes it easier to transition from one activity to another and try to stick as closely to it as possible. You may find yourself dealing with a change of plans at one point – just be sure to talk with your child in advance to ease their troubles in the transition.

Parent teaching autistic child about emotions

Give Choices

While giving choices to any child can feel like the right way to reduce conflict, it can help someone with ASD substantially. Making choices can help a child on the spectrum feel more independent, and like they can be actively involved in their purpose. It can help foster a sense of self, boost confidence, and even enhance problem-solving skills.

Work on Different Communication Methods

In many cases, children with autism have a difficult time with verbal communication. As the caretaker, it’s important to be patient, kind, and flexible while taking part in conversation with someone with ASD. Make sure to use positive language and other reinforcements to make them feel comfortable with the conversation.

There are also many different nonverbal ways to interact with children with autism. Non-verbal communication methods involve eye contact, hand gestures, and other facial expressions to bring life to your feelings. Pragmatics is also essential, which involves fostering behaviors that encourage turn-taking in the conversation.

Keep Directions Minimal

Simple direction throughout the day or during a task can minimize the chances of feeling sensory overload. When you’re working through a challenging task or taking part in an activity, make sure to involve no more than two steps at a time.

Take Breaks for Sensory Challenges

Children with autism should have breaks throughout the day in an attempt to calm nerves and reduce intense behaviors. Breaks or activities like going on walks and squeezing a stress ball can be a useful form of sensory stimulation.

Seek Support with Applied Behavior Analysis

If you’re having a hard time helping your child with autism cope with everyday challenges, further assistance might be necessary. Likewise, if you have an autistic student who could use more attention at home, providing parents with optional resources can be a useful way to show your support.

Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA, is a program designed for working with autism in therapy. This is a great option for parents or special education teachers in need of additional support working with autistic children.

This type of therapy is designed to help children with autism improve their communication, motor, and social skills, while simultaneously building their independence and incorporating appropriate behaviors into every real-life scenario.

Blossom Children’s Center is composed of Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs), behavior technicians, and students in ABA fieldwork who are all supported by Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs). This strong ground of professionals can help you feel comfortable and confident sending your own child or students to ABA therapy.

Learn more about our ABA therapy methods and programs today.

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