A recent study estimated that 1 in every 80 primary school children is considered to have an autistic spectrum condition by their school.
While it’s hard to quantify how many professionals are teaching children with autism, the statistics are a reminder that primary teachers need to know how to accommodate all learners.
Explaining autism to your class
If you have a child in your class with autism, it’s important to make other children aware of the condition. First, explain it might cause a person to act a bit differently, but they can’t always always help their actions. Then, as a follow up activity, discuss the topic of feelings to make sure children are aware that nobody should be teased or bullied at school.
To help children understand condition, the BBC have a couple of videos on autism for you to watch with the class. The first is description of how it feels to be autistic, from the view of Rosie, who has the condition. The second has helpful tips and advice for children to use in school.
Looking for help and guidance
Teachers who are teaching children with autism should take a look at this PDF from the National Autistic Society. It’s a comprehensive document that explains the condition and contains autism teaching resources, information and book lists to help you make provisions for children with the condition.
Making use of free resources
Many autistic children are visual learners and will find it easier to understand instructions accompanied by flashcards. The Visual Aids site has class activity, behaviour and timetable packs to download for free. Using these will stop you relying on words and help deliver your messages with clarity.
Using new technology to teach autistic learners
If your school has a VLE, use images or video from the web to personalise the learning platform and make your child comfortable in class. With many autistic children developing strong interests in a specific topic, customising your lesson content could engage them in learning.
There’s also free downloads, such as the reward card and timetable creator, Picto Selector. Its huge library of pictures and the option to upload your own photos, mean it’s a valuable tool which will appeal to children when managing behaviour, setting routines or praising achievements.