Children with Autism can learn, study and complete their education. However, for that we need to be able to make them sit and concentrate on learning materials. Here are a few ideas to help you get a child with autism to sit down and pay attention.
Children with autism are far more affected by background sounds, and activity , compared to most of us. This is one of the main reasons why they may find it difficult to focus on an activity. Before you start teaching, eliminate other distractions as much as possible. A closed room, away from the window may be a good place to learn. Similarly, make sure that there are no background noises.
Target Topics of Interest:
Children with autism often have a specific area of interest. It could be cars, or video games, or toy animals. Use this area f interest to teach a variety of skills. This will mean that you need to be creative and adapt different ideas, but they will make the activities interesting to the child, and will motivate them to learn.
Add Routine to Learning Sessions:
Children with autism cope better with learning activities if it is a part of their regular routine. Set a specific time and space for lessons. Start every session and end it in a specific way. Make pictorial schedules so that the child can understand and anticipate what he needs to do next.
Cater to Sensory Needs:
Children with autism have various sensory seeking behavior as well as hypersensitivity. These factors need to be kept in mind while teaching the child. Avoid activities with materials that the child is hypersensitive to. To decrease hypersensitivity, you can introduce these materials to the child one at a time, in small amounts and grade slowly. However, this needs to be done carefully so that the child does not shut down completely. On the other hand, some children’s need for sensory stimulation may interfere with their ability to concentrate. In this situation, allow the child to do an activity that fulfils his sensory needs ( like swinging, sand play, or rolling on a carpet) for a few minutes, and then ask the child to so the activity for a short period. Being flexible with the position the child is in while doing the activity may also help.
Keep Sessions Short and Focused:
Short sessions focused on one particular task or skill is easier for the child to handle. Spread out various activities and learning time over the day in such a way that the child gets opportunities to learn a variety of skills in different ways.
Provide Structured Activities:
Structured activities make it easier for the child to learn a specific skill. The structure in the activity helps the child feel more confident of succeeding in the activity. Workbox activities are a great example of structures activities. This technique can be used to teach a large range of skills. For ideas on making workbox activities, read this.
Provide small rewards every time the child completes a short activity. Rewards could be sensory in nature, or could also be edible rewards, other tangible rewards, or social rewards.
Thus these are a few ideas for helping autistic children to sit down and learn. Do have a look at my collection of workbox activities that can be used to teach a variety of skills.
Picture Credit: Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Colored_pencils_chevre.jpg