Every person living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is unique in the way that they are affected, which in turn affects how educational professionals deal with difficult situations. ASD is a hidden condition and so awareness and understanding of its nature is pivotal. Whilst general awareness of autism appears to have improved nationally over the last few years, there is significant research to suggest that what’s lackign is an understanding of what it is like to actually live with autism. This can lead to misunderstanding and inaccurate assumptions.
At Works4U, we are firm believers that under the right care and guidance, every single learner diagnosed with ASD can flourish and our staff have made it their mission to understand each and every learner with ASD. Some key characteristics can include, but are not bound to, difficulty in communicating, difficulty with social interaction, difficulty sleeping, needing clear and concise instructions and feeling disturbed by loud noises.
Teaching young people with ASD can often be a difficult task for educators, who need to understand both the individual and the condition if they are to successfully manage it. The key to understanding is to look at situations from the learner’s point of view and so, with this in mind, we have round up some pointers to help offer additional support.
Helping with Change – Change is a very difficult process for autistic learners, who thrive off routine and familiarity. Even the smallest changes can prove detrimental. To prevent outbursts and periods of anxiety, education professionals should always explain changes (big or small) several times prior to the change taking place. They should then offer practical and emotional support as the learner processes these changes.
Using Visual Aids – Visual aids help autistic people to better understand what is being explained to them. It also helps them to process the information in small stages, as extensive verbal communication can cause confusion. Lots of young people suffering from ASD are visual learners.
Prepare Learners for Social Interaction – One of the biggest causes for anxiety in ASD sufferers is the thought of social interaction. During occasions where learners will be put into social situations, such as break times, it is important that they know what to expect from the situation beforehand. This prevents nerves and apprehension. Furthermore, having a planned way of leaving the situation should it become too much also makes ASD learners feel more comfortable.
Keep it Simple – When it comes to verbally communicating with ASD learners, it is essential to keep the conversation simple and specific. Don’t ramble or use words beyond the young person’s understanding as they will become confused (and possibly angry or withdrawn) as a result. Fewer words will encourage better responses. Similarly, when giving the learner choices, don’t give more than 2 or 3 to prevent overwhelming them and eliciting a negative reaction.
Don’t Take Behaviour Personally – Rudeness and aggressive behaviour from ASD sufferers can be quite common. Often they are struggling to process a change or deal with a new situation, they can react angrily. It is imperative to recognise that anger targeted at one thing or person may come from a completely different place and should never be taken personally.
In an understanding and supportive environment and under the right guidance, we have no doubt that learners with ASD can flourish socially, emotionally and academically. And Works4U are proud to be a part of their educational journey.