A new government survey suggests that one in 45 children, ages 3 to 17, has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. It’s quite likely, then, that you will have one or more of these children in your classroom at some point. But very few of us know a lot about the disorder -- how to recognize the signs, or what accommodations to make for these students. So I invited Tricia Shelton, an expert in ASD, to join me on Studentcentricity, along with teacher Melanie Link Taylor.
Following our conversation, Tricia contributed this takeaway:
Teaching students with ASD can be challenging because the disorder is highly complex and can manifest differently in each student. Like their typically-developing counterparts, students with ASD have differing needs, strengths, and interests. Educators must take the time to get to know their students with ASD and to find strategies that work well for individual children. Be mindful that the first attempt at implementing a strategy may not be successful. Further, a strategy that is effective for one student with ASD may not be particularly helpful for another child. Teachers must be resilient in their efforts to support students with ASD. However, no educator should feel alone in his/her practice; teachers should work with others both within and beyond the school community to help learners with ASD be successful. Through this type of collaboration as well as on-going professional development, educators can offer students with ASD daily opportunities to reach their potential.
ASD students can have wonderful strengths but the difficulty with communication creates a gulf between teachers, classmates, and the student. A well-run classroom with efficient management, clear plans, and well-monitored activity will give all the students opportunity to thrive and be team, even a family. The educational needs of the ASD student differ from non-disabled students only in frequency and personalization. The teacher needs to be open to tweek methods and learn strategies from other professionals, such as the Special Education staff.
So much of what was recommended during the conversation would help create a successful learning community for all children, not just those with autism spectrum disorder. Find out more of what Tricia and Melanie had to say by clicking here. You can also learn much more from Tricia’s new book, Practical Strategies for Supporting Young Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorder.