Being a teacher is one of the noblest professions out there. Basically, you become a child’s second parent, which means that you ought to show them love and care. However, rowdy kids and students that have certain difficulties may test your patience.
But if you’re a special needs teacher, you know that your patience will have to be extended further. With the ever-growing population of autistic children, special needs teachers like you must be more than sensitive to the students’ needs. You have to take into account that each of them has unique learning needs and requirements, and overlooking them will prove problematic.
This may sound like a test of character, but you need to understand that it’s more of a quest to make the world a better place for your students. Think of it as a mission to help your autistic students gain confidence and cultivate independence. Here are some of the things you may want to keep in mind:
Keep sensory overload at bay
Kids with autism perceive the world differently. Even the most basic things can be unexpectedly distracting for them. Certain smells, blinding lights, and noises from school bell and voices of their classmates can make it difficult for autistic students to focus. With this in mind, you need to make sure that the learning environment is toned down. For instance, your classroom could use a calm or cool color. Do not design or cover the walls with many posters and visuals that will grab the attention of your students.
Make your teaching more visual
You might have a reading program for autism. And while many kids with autism can read, they can still benefit from visual aids; these actually help them absorb information more efficiently. For one, you can use visual cues and pictures as class rules reminders. Photographs, illustrations, and even line drawings will be your best friends when teaching your class. But if you want your style to become more interactive, you can use online tutorials and videos.
Choose your words
You ought to avoid long instructions and lengthy words. This is because many people with autism may have trouble remembering the sequence. If a kid can read, you may want to write the instructions on a piece of paper and even incorporate some drawings. Moreover, you need to choose your words carefully. Your students may find it difficult to understand figurative language, as they tend to look at it in a very literal or concrete manner.
Focus on their interests
You know that a lot of autistic children are fixated on certain things or subjects, such as maps, music, and train. You can use these fixations as a learning device so that they can absorb information much more easily. If a student loves trains, you can incorporate them into the stories you want to tell them and even simple arithmetic problems. If they are in love with the piano, you can turn a story into a song that they can play using the instrument and even sing along with.
Teaching students with autism is not an easy feat. You will need to double your patience while showing your love and care for your students. This can be quite draining, and it may lead to stress and anxiety. With this in mind, you need to learn to seek help. You are not alone in this.
You’re doing well
When you feel like you’re not doing enough, think about the students who have expressed their love for you. Their words of affirmation should be enough to make you feel that your efforts are appreciated.