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Social stories are carefully designed short stories that help children with autism understand new social situations. These social situations can include any type of interaction involving other people such as riding a school bus, visiting the dentist, or ordering food at a restaurant. Research indicates that these stories help children with autism develop an accurate understanding of new social situations (Gray, 1995).
COVID-19 has led to a new way of rethinking all aspects of our daily lives. For many of us, it has meant huge shifts in our physical, social, mental, and emotional health. Organizations and corporations have had to reconsider what productive and efficient work can look like, while schools have had to reimagine learning in the virtual world. For schools, this switch to mostly remote learning presents more opportunities for students to engage in technology and various social platforms like chat rooms and social media. This also presents more opportunities for students to engage in or be affected by cyberbullying.
So much of a students’ understanding of language development and positive social skill development can come from the experiences students have while reading. Language development and social communication are areas that can be more challenging skillsets to develop for students with autism, thereby affecting their reading comprehension and fluency abilities (Teaching Exceptional Thinkers, n.d.). Sight word instruction provides a tool that can support students with autism as they learn to read by recognizing whole words quickly, rather than sounding them out.
Are you dreading your "au-some" child's first week back to school because he or she is used to sleeping in now? Are you wondering how they will shift their sleeping habits back to normal? I believe I have an answer to your conundrum...
Sesame Street is a treasured TV show that has educated children worldwide for more than 50 years. It has brought characters like Elmo, Big Bird, Abby, and Cookie Monster into children’s lives and has brought forth lessons that build foundational skills. Through this show, we have learned how to count, how to read, how to sing, how to build relationships, how to channel our emotions, and so much more. In March of 2017, Sesame Street proved that its life lessons are not diminishing. Instead, they are becoming larger than life. Sesame Street introduced their newest character, Julia, to America’s favorite street, bringing knowledge about the autism spectrum to its audience. Here are 5 reasons why this is such a positive initiative in terms of autism awareness:
In K-12 education, there is no dispute that developing reading skills is fundamental. In fact, research suggests that early literacy instruction for students with and without disabilities is essential for future literacy development3. Teachers across the world are constantly utilizing various strategies to support students’ reading comprehension and decoding skills. For some, typical decoding and comprehension strategies may be fairly accessible. For others, reading comprehension or decoding may prove to be more difficult. Students with autism typically have challenges related to reading comprehension, such as answering questions or expressing ideas in traditional ways.
Picture books are a widely used resource in classrooms and homes around the world. Picture books support vocabulary development, story analysis skills, and sentence structure skills1. In addition to building language skills, picture books offer opportunities for children to understand what they are reading through illustrations while supporting engagement and encouraging imagination and creativity. For children with autism, picture books are especially helpful as many children with autism are very literal and visual learners.
Beginning at a young age, many children with autism can find it difficult to relate to and communicate with other people, and thus may have significant difficulty in expressive and receptive language (Simpson, Keen, & Lamb, 2015). Difficulties in language development can impact later functional outcomes, such as maintaining successful relationships and communicating wants and needs effectively. For students with autism, receptive language development is extremely important, as support in this area allows them to understand other’s requests and the surrounding environment. Thus, early intervention to support language development in young children with autism is necessary.
Children with autism frequently have delayed language development. For children with autism who have developed language, understanding or using parts of speech correctly may be difficult. While many children develop language skills incidentally, parts of speech such as prepositions, opposites, pronouns or verb tenses may be more difficult and require explicit instruction. Understanding parts of speech are important because it shows how words relate to one another in a meaningful way and allows for clear communication.
For children with autism, language skills can be taught using 2-D and 3-D matching skills. Matching is the ability to see two things and recognize that they are the same. Matching skills improve concentration, train visual and short term memory, attention to detail, classification skills, and improve vocabulary. For children with autism, developing these matching skills helps them physically identify and describe relationships between objects which leads to the development of learning language skills. Matching games offer a clear end goal, which is comforting to learners and helpful for teachers and parents.
Teaching children with Autism to follow simple directions is an important skill for them to learn. The ability to follow simple directions allows opportunities for your child to gain independence, regulation skills, communication skills, productivity in daily routine tasks, and practice gross motor and fine motor skills. Having these skills are important in school environments, home, and other natural settings. Children can gain the ability to follow simple directions to:
With schools and learning centers staying closed indefinitely due to the coronavirus, families and students are finding themselves having to adapt to learning from home.
Topics: Early Childhood Education, Inclusive Education, Advice for Parents and Caregivers, COVID-19 Emergency Response, Infant/Toddler (0-3), Elementary (4-12), Teen (13-17), Young Adult (18-21), Parents, Adult (22+), Articles
Note: These 5 activities can be done every day, and we recommend that parents create a schedule so that each of these activities takes place at the same time very day when possible. Having a schedule helps keep children with autism feel more secure and reduces anxiety. We also recommend posting a picture schedule (or words if your child can read so that they know what to expect each day.
Preparing your child with Autism for classroom routines is important. Whether it’s the start of the school year, transitioning back to classes from school breaks, or a refresher, common classroom routines can be easily adapted to suit your child’s needs and practiced in and outside the classroom. It is helpful to meet with the teachers and therapists working with your child to understand what their daily schedule in school is like to make a plan for how your child can be supported and successful.
Children’s books featuring children with autism are an easy and entertaining way to introduce the topic of autism to your children, family members, friends, and your child’s peers. Children’s books offer simple, accessible explanations and illustrations that can help children and others better understand autism and some of its symptoms in a lighthearted manner. These children’s books emphasize messages about friendship, community, and understanding.
Fine motor skills are the coordination of small muscle movements. Fine motor skills are the ability to make movements in our eyes, wrists, hands, and fingers. Many everyday tasks require strength, dexterity, and fine motor skills. Fine motor skills need to be learned and developed as children get older.
Play is often described as the “work” of childhood, where children can make friendships, learn social skills, come to understand expected group behavior, consequences, turn taking, and cooperation, not to mention have some fun! Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can reap these same benefits by playing games with other kids, though many do not naturally gain the aforementioned skills simply by being exposed to games or other play objects, as might their non-disabled peers. As with many concepts, games and their component skills may need to be explicitly taught, supported, and adaptations made in order for a child with autism to experience success with the activity.
Sensory struggles in a child with autism can hinder his or her ability to grasp a writing implement and to use it correctly. But some marvelous strategies exist that can help children learn to write: countering “floppy” muscle tone, varying implement thickness, trying different implement tips to reduce noise issues, and repetition with different implements are all strategies that can help children with autism and/or sensory integration issues.
Yoga, an ancient practice that originated in India, is today a term familiar across most of the world. Those who’ve experienced the practice may be familiar with its benefits of relaxation and overall improved physical health. Did you know, however, that exploring yoga with a child with autism can help him or her improve mobility, spatial awareness, coping skills, and even contribute to self-confidence?
Safety and preparation for emergency situations is a concern for any child, but especially for children with autism, who may be unable to communicate or respond correctly in emergency situations.