How to Plan for Designing the Learning Practice for an Autistic Child as a Special Education Teacher?

25th September 2020

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is not a single special need, but is an umbrella term consisting of a variety of closely-related special needs with a shared fundamental of indications. Every child within the autism spectrum disorder has difficulties in social skills, responsiveness, communication, as well as flexible behaviors. As the number of children with autism is growing promptly, unfortunately, the educational system for those with autism has not caught up to the growing population. As a teaching professional, it is crucial to have an understanding and clear knowledge of how a child with autism spectrum disorder experiences the surroundings as well as the people within it.

So, how do you design for a student whose sensory awareness can change all through the day?

How do you plan and design for someone whose intelligence you cannot comprehend completely?

Well, in order to assist the needs of autistic learners, new teaching accommodations need to be fabricated and current facilities have to be modified. Now, the growing attention is being paid to the design of special education classrooms, units plus schools. Then again, the authorities are facing the challenges of designing the appropriate learning environments for ASD children. The key symptoms of autism are difficulties in social communication, language disabilities and repetitive behaviors related to signs and symptoms with sensory perception problems.

All autistic students are different and it is recommended not to generalize them. Some ASD children may be capable to receive information, but may have trouble in making sense of the information. While some children may listen to different words appropriately, but not understand them completely. Everyone, be it students or adult learners, experience some kind of uncomfortable attitudes in the classroom at some time or another. An autistic child's aptitude to learn in a traditional classroom is frequently compromised because of the difficulties previously described.

This guide lays out some effective modifications and considerations to help ASD children in learning:

Well-ordered and Clear Structure

Developed by Whitehurst (2006), an analysis of GA Architects design for residential accommodation at Sunfield School suggested that all the graphical cues, colour outlines, assets of light, texture changes etc. are supposed to support the spatial hierarchy rather than confusing the learner. ASD children require more personal space around them and the class sizes in relation to presented space, should reflect this. Moreover, the special attention has to be placed on the stimulus level of spaces, when planning. Try to avoid noisy places as this is the foundation of design for an autism-friendly school. This helps to decrease distraction from excess stimuli, to control how classroom building should be planned as a whole, and how the building itself should be made.

Say NO to Figurative Language

Well, children with autism spectrum disorder usually tussle with figurative language like- metaphors, similes and irony etc. They may construe the literally spoken or written language that has projected for the nonliteral connotations. As a special education teacher, make sure your language is relaxed enough to understand, consider those words that aren’t loaded with any hidden or oblique meanings. In your language delivery, be as clear as possible. Executive working can be difficult for many autistic children, so being clear about how long the tasks should take is helpful.

Plan for Anxiety

Autistic children may get apprehensive or disappointed about some inexperienced situations plus social events. They need the comprehensive info well in advance so that they can envisage the situation. This helps them to plan it in advance, or they may prefer it to avoid them completely. As a special educator, you should aim to deliver the information as far as possible and also have to identify if an autistic student chooses not to participate. Try to give as much information as possible to reduce anxiety.

Reflective Activities

Generally, autistic children think more visually than verbally. Verbal treating may be delayed from their side, so, allow them enough space to understand the verbal treating. The tasks as well as activities involving written or spoken reflection can be challenging for autistic students. That’s why the adjustments for reflective activities in your class are significant. Try to communicate with the student and find out what would be most appropriate for the student. This can bring a strong reflective interpretation, and can help the student to gain valuable skills.

Consider the Mental Health

Usually, autistic children prefer to hide their challenges, and this means that they may be struggling with the techniques to approach and socialize. To identify this area and to understand this can consume a vast amount of your time and energy and gradually this can be harmful to their mental health. For this cause, they may need to hunk the learning practice down into the smaller pieces and take regular breaks generally. Frequently check the ASD student in such a way that doesn’t make him/her feel left out. Make sure that all of your learners are well aware of whichever sources available to support their mental health.

We do understand that there are many other perspectives to explore, but the online autism courses for teachers cover all the necessary details. Designing for autism classes seems to be an impossible task but the principles or suggestions sketched above are only a paramount step for a classroom.

Written By: Gargi Sen      

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