Since 1 in 59 students is diagnosed with autism, it is important to know how to help children with autism in the classroom. Teaching communication skills and learning strategies to students with autism makes these children more successful in their studies. The more you know about autism, the better you can prepare these students for lifelong success.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a serious developmental disorder that causes sensitivity to seeing certain things, hearing sounds, and other sensory information. Symptoms of autism usually fall into three categories:
- Difficulty communicating
- Deficiencies in social skills
- Performing repetitive behaviors (known as “stimming” in the autism community)
Here are 15 fun activities to help children with autism that you can use to improve learning and communication in the classroom. These games are very helpful in preparing a child to learn and maintain communication, whether you play them individually or as group activities.
Activities to strengthen social skills for children with autism
A common characteristic of students with autism is difficulty communicating or communicating with classmates. Use social skills-enhancing activities to teach children with autism to recognize social cues, practice empathy, and learn other important life skills.
1- Game learning names
This fun group activity teaches students with autism the essential skill of “self-identification and learning the names of others”. To play this game, gather the students in a circle so that everyone can see each other. Begin by pointing to yourself and saying your name (“I am Mr. or Mrs. _____.”). Then ask the child sitting to your right to say his name exactly as you said it, and then repeat his name while pointing to you.
Help each child take turns saying their name and then point to another child in the class and repeat their name. In this way, children with autism learn to introduce themselves to others and learn the names of others, and this also strengthens their communication.
This game is best played at the beginning of the school year. In this way, children will be able to learn the names of their classmates and make new friends in the class.
2- Feelings game (by putting the child in the place of the main characters in the stories)
You can read a story book to the class and then ask the students how they would feel if they were the first character in the story. For example, if you are reading a picture book about Cinderella, ask the students how they would feel and what they would do if they had two full sisters. Or if you are reading Peter Pan as a story in class, you can ask them how they would feel if they could fly like Peter Pan.
This can help students with autism learn empathy and make them see their life situations from a different perspective. Also, teach children how to recognize emotional cues by encouraging them to put themselves in someone else’s shoes.
3- Sharing interests
Sharing interests is a useful game and can also be a great activity for social emotional learning (SEL) programs for children with autism. Each week, the student must bring something to class that they would like to share with their classmates.
This not only teaches autistic students how to discuss their interests with others, but also how to actively listen. If the interests of two or more students are similar, it creates friendship and better communication between them.
Sensory activities for children with autism
Because children with autism are often very aware of their senses, playing sensory games can help teachers focus on the students in the classroom. Sensory stimulation activities can help children with autism learn more and build better relationships.
Read also: The Importance of Visual Puzzles for Kids (10 Key Benefits)
4- Sorting snacks game
This tactile activity for children with autism can be a fun way to engage students during math class. Give everyone in your class snacks that are easy to sort, such as cookies or small crackers. Use snacks in attractive colors, or you can also use foods that come in different shapes, textures, or sizes.
First, have the students sort the food by color, shape, or other characteristic. Then use the snacks to teach basic math skills like counting, addition or subtraction. When the kids understand your concept, reward them with a snack.
5- Colorful stamps for vegetables
This art activity for children with autism helps students focus on their homework. Before starting class, chop vegetables such as potatoes, cucumbers, or peppers. Give each child a few slices of vegetables with a cup of paint. Tell your students to draw the underside of the vegetable and then trace it on the paper.
Students can enjoy these handmade stamps. In this way they learn the names of different vegetables and colours. Kids can draw full-size botanical shapes on paper (print botanicals on paper) or use them as finger paints.
6- Slime dough
Play dough is a game that is popular with most children. This game strengthens the senses of autistic students in the classroom. There are so many easy recipes online that you can find your favorite variety and entertain your students with it. You can use slime dough as a tactile art activity, or you can use it as a science activity.
Calming activities to prevent autistic students from messing around in class
Students with autism sometimes feel confused. This is an extreme reaction that may make the child lose control of his emotions. This situation is called “autistic collapse” and it is different from the situation experienced by ordinary students in the classroom. The best strategy for preventing chaos in children with autism is to seek help from a professional or psychologist, but the following calming activities can also help reduce stressful situations.
7- Try grounding techniques
Grounding techniques help us focus in stressful situations. Here are some calming activities related to this technique for children with autism that you can use when they get a little messy:
- Count from one to ten or read the alphabet as many times as you can
- Listen to relaxing music and listen to different musical instruments
- Name five different things that you can see around the room
- Try simple stretching or yoga and notice how your body feels
- Touch something like a piece of clay or a very soft doll
For older students with autism, you can try mindfulness (active-attention-in-the-moment) meditation. This type of meditation can have a similar effect and help students stay calm.
Read also: The benefits of working with clay for children and 6 interesting tips
8- Determine the relaxation area in the classroom
When a student with autism is being messed with (because this can take a while), you need to give him space and a place to calm down and relax. Designate a corner of the classroom as a “student relaxation zone” with sensory toys, picture books, ergonomic chairs, and relaxation activities that students with autism can use on their own. , Put.
Let each student in the class know that when they are feeling anxious or stressed, they can spend a few minutes in the relaxation area to calm down. This way, you don’t have to remove the autistic student from the classroom during times of stress, but you still have to let them know that it’s just a choice. In other words, explain to the student that at this time he can leave the class to calm down or go to the library and read a book.
9- Put anti-stress toys in a drawer or cupboard
Tactile games can help restore a sense of calm in children with autism. If you have an autistic child in your class, fill a drawer with toys that can help neutralize overactive emotions. These toys are anti-stress (such as anti-stress softballs). When a student seems nervous or is having trouble concentrating, give him or her a sensory toy or two to help him calm down.
Here are some ideas for stress-relieving toys that you can keep in a drawer or cupboard:
- Play dough
- Sensory games
- anti stress balls
- Aromatherapy pillow
- Weighted blanket
Effective teaching strategies for children with autism
In some cases, the learning characteristics of students with autism may differ from the rest of your students. But fortunately, the right teaching strategies and techniques can keep children with autism on track to get through the school year successfully. Try these tips, learning websites, and games for students with autism to help them learn difficult concepts.
10- Bringing the special interests of autistic children into the classroom
Many children with autism show a keen interest in certain subjects or activities. Take advantage of what children with autism are interested in and use it to teach students to focus better in the classroom. For example, if a child with autism loves space and galaxies, you might consider counting the planets of the solar system as a mathematical task.
11- Using the multisensory learning method
If a school or classroom assignment involves only one of the senses of autistic students, they will not be able to focus, so it is best to take advantage of multisensory learning. doctor. Temple Grandin is a famous autistic scientist. “I thought the adults were speaking a different language,” he says. I was looking at the pictures and I thought words were like a second language to me. “
For this reason, lessons that involve many of the senses, such as sight, hearing, and touch, make learning for students with autism better in the classroom. For example, you can teach children with autism how to read the alphabet, words with magnetic letters, or sing a patriotic song to learn different things about their country’s history.
12. Try the SMART goal challenge
If a student with autism is having difficulty in school, sit down with him and choose a SMART goal to work on over the next month or semester. SMART goals are an effective way to help children with autism reach their potential. Each letter of the word SMART has a specific meaning:
- S stands for a specific word
- M stands for measurable
- A stands for attainable
- R stands for “related”.
- T is a time-related word
For example, suppose a student with autism has difficulty learning how to identify emotions. You can set a goal for him to practice the emotional flashcards for five minutes each day so that the student can become familiar with each card by the end of the month. As long as the SMART goal is achieved in all ways, it can help the student focus on ways to improve.
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