1.) Many people with
autism are visual thinkers. To learn words like "up" or
"down," the teacher should demonstrate them to the
child. For example, take a toy airplane and say "up" as
you make the airplane takeoff from a desk. Some children
will learn better if cards with the words "up" and
"down" are attached to the toy airplane. The "up" card
is attached when the plane takes off. The "down" card is
attached when it lands.
2.) Avoid long strings of
verbal instructions. People with autism have problems
with remembering the sequence. If the child can read,
write the instructions down on a piece of paper.
Directions with more than three steps have to be
written down. I also have difficulty remembering phone
numbers because I cannot make a picture in my mind.
3.) Many children with
autism are good at drawing, art and computer
programming. These talent areas should be encouraged,
there needs to be much more emphasis on developing the
child's talents. Talents can be turned into skills that
can be used for future employment.
4.) Many autistic
children get fixated on one subject such as trains or
maps. The best way to deal with fixations is to use them
to motivate school work. If the child likes trains, then
use trains to teach reading and math. Read a book about
a train and do math problems with trains. For example,
calculate how long it takes for a train to go between
New York and Washington.
5.) Use concrete visual
methods to teach number concepts. My parents gave me a
math toy which helped me to learn numbers. It consisted
of a set of blocks which had a different length and a
different color for the numbers one through ten. With
this I learned how to add and subtract. To teach
fractions have a wooden apple that was cut up into four
pieces and a wooden pear that was cut in half. From this
teach the concept of quarters and halves.
6.) Many autistic
children have problems with motor control in their
hands. Neat handwriting is sometimes very hard. This can
totally frustrate the child. To reduce frustration and
help the child to enjoy writing, let him type on the
computer. Typing is often much easier.
7.) Some autistic
children will learn reading more easily with phonics,
and others will learn best by memorizing whole words.
Children with lots of echolalia will often learn best if
flash cards and picture books are used so that the whole
words are associated with pictures. It is important to
have the picture and the printed word on the same side
of the card. When teaching nouns the child must hear you
speak the word and view the picture and printed word
simultaneously. An example of teaching a verb would be
to hold a card that says "jump," and you would jump up
and down while saying "jump."
8.) Children with autism
need to be protected from sounds that hurt their ears.
The sounds that will cause the most problems are school
bells, PA systems, buzzers on the score board in the
gym, and the sound of chairs scraping on the floor. In
many cases the child will be able to tolerate the bell
or buzzer if it is muffled slightly by stuffing it with
tissues or duct tape. Scraping chairs can be silenced by
placing slit tennis balls on the ends of the legs or
installing carpet. A child may fear a certain room
because he is afraid he may be suddenly subjected to
squealing microphone feedback from the PA system. The
fear of a dreaded sound can cause bad behaviour. If a
child covers his ears, it is an indicator that a certain
sound hurts his ears. Sometimes sound sensitivity to a
particular sound, such as the fire alarm, can be
desensitized by recording the sound on a tape recorder.
This will allow the child to initiate the sound and
gradually increase its volume. The child must have
control of playback of the sound.
9.) Some autistic people
are bothered by visual distractions and fluorescent
lights. They can see the flicker of the 60-cycle
electricity. To avoid this problem, place the child's
desk near the window or try to avoid using fluorescent
lights. If the lights cannot be avoided, use the newest
bulbs you can get. New bulbs flicker less. The
flickering of fluorescent lights can also be reduced by
putting a lamp with an old-fashioned incandescent light
bulb next to the child's desk.
10.) Some hyperactive
autistic children who fidget all the time will often be
calmer if they are given a padded weighted vest to wear.
Pressure from the garment helps to calm the nervous
system. I was greatly calmed by pressure. For best
results, the vest should be worn for twenty minutes and
then taken off for a few minutes. This prevents the
nervous system from adapting to it.
11.) Some individuals
with autism will respond better and have improved eye
contact and speech if the teacher interacts with them
while they are swinging on a swing or rolled up in a
mat. Sensory input from swinging or pressure from the
mat sometimes helps to improve speech. Swinging should
always be done as a fun game. It must NEVER be forced.
12.) Some children and
adults can sing better than they can speak. They may
respond better if words and sentences are sung to them.
Some children with extreme sound sensitivity will
respond better if the teacher talks to them in a low
13.) Some nonverbal
children and adults cannot process visual and auditory
input at the same time. They are mono-channel. They
cannot see and hear at the same time. They should not be
asked to look and listen at the same time. They should
be given either a visual task or an auditory task. Their
immature nervous system is not able to process
simultaneous visual and auditory input.
14.) In older nonverbal
children and adults touch is often their most reliable
sense. It is often easier for them to feel. Letters can
be taught by letting them feel plastic letters. They can
learn their daily schedule by feeling objects a few
minutes before a scheduled activity. For example,
fifteen minutes before lunch give the person a spoon to
hold. Let them hold a toy car a few minutes before going
in the car.