How To Handle Kids With Autism
Typical children learn by mimicking adults and those around them in order to understand social communication. Children with autism tend to have difficulty mimicking the action and behaviors of others. They also have difficulty placing themselves in the context of another person’s circumstance. Without these inherent skills, learning by mimicking becomes difficult. Many of our cultural customs are taught by role modeling and mimicking others. How did you learn to change a tire, fold a shirt or cast a fishing rod?
To best handle a kid with autism, you need to describe the very specific social communications expected of her. It’s important to provide opportunities to practice. Just as you provide opportunities to read, write, and do arithmetic; provide opportunities to practice social conversations.
In those practice conversational skills time, keep in mind how much you can help them. Children with autism need to develop self-awareness regarding their action on others. Help them in this area when you see them in a low stress environment.
Just as you might teach reading, writing, and arithmetic, it becomes necessary to teach social behavior. Helping a child understand another child’s body language and facial expressions as well as helping him or her understand the context of their own body language is vital. Use of words, content of speech, all of these things need to be instructed. Sooner or later, children will want to interact with their peers and may feel a sense of frustration or hopelessness when they can’t get the hang of sharing and turn taking as well as other typical play skills. You can help them in this area.
In a group environment, such as over the course of the school year, students in the classroom develop an understanding of the routines. They are independent in managing their materials and classroom responsibilities. Second grade students will learn the natural and familiar task of using a textbook, opening to the correct page, and visually attending to the details of the text in a quick and efficient manner. Certain textbooks can be located in specific cabinets in the classroom. Specific procedures can be required in order to access these textbooks. For a student with ASD, however, each time she is required to get a book it can be like a new experience every single time. Like a fish swimming in the opposite direction, these students were having a different learning experience than the others.
Even within an optimal home learning environment, children with ASD still require breaks to “refresh” their ability to focus on both work and play.
One of the turning points in a child’s success can be when the parent implements a break schedule. Initially, these breaks needed to be predesignated and hardwired into the home routine on a three times per day basis. Focus on increasing the complexity of the work gradually and do not change the break schedule when possible.
In this approach, the basic belief is held that, over time and as an individual matures, he or she would be able to recognize her need for a break and take one. When in public, the following break ideas are used by all of us: