10 Ways Your School Can Support Your Child With Autism
Often times children with autism are provided with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) in school that’s designed to make accommodations and modifications to the child’s schedule, in addition to setting specific goals for them to reach. However, there are some cases where parents may be unsure of what should be addressed in an IEP or how their school can provide the accommodations needed or listed in the outline.
But there are so many ways your child’s school can help them grow in their social skills and education—even if there is no IEP to work from. We’ve listed 10 ways that your school can support your child, in addition to the ABA therapy they’re receiving at home.
1. Allow Time for Exercise
The research that supports the benefits of exercise in improving self-esteem and decreasing anxiety/stress are seemingly endless. Exercise can help your child channel their energy in a positive manner that also allows them to take part in a social activity with the class.
2. Follow a Clear Schedule
Children with autism, like most, are people of routine. Much like in home-based autism services, a schedule—whether written or visual—makes for smooth transitions from one task to the next. Plus, clear instructions give your child a better chance to succeed when they know what’s expected of them.
3. Make Use of Visual and/or Hands-On Activities
Research shows that visual and hands-on activities help your child thrive in the classroom. Incorporating various shapes, colors, or textures into an activity can access the key to retaining knowledge in a fun, colorful way.
4. Read Social Stories
Social situations like going to school or playing at recess can be some of the most anxiety-inducing situations for your child. A teacher that can find and read stories about going to school or a friend’s birthday party can calm their nerves and give them a better idea of how to handle different situations.
5. Provide Breaks When Needed
As you’ve probably seen in your child’s autism therapy service, movement breaks, for any child, are a terrific way to release any built-up energy. Whether it’s standing up to shake out arms and legs, taking a walk around the room, or stepping outside for a few minutes, a small break in between activities can improve focus and interest in the task.
6. Incorporate Child’s Interests
We all are more engaged in a learning environment that includes our personal interests and strengths. Let teachers discover what your child loves and what they’re good at—maybe it’s puzzles or drawing—and find ways to incorporate those interests into the class activities when possible.
7. Use Positive Instructions
Switching up the way we give instructions, may encourage increased compliance when asked to complete a task. By specifying what is expected, rather than what they cannot do, we eliminate any possible confusion.
8. Buddy Up
Some children have difficulty finding a buddy in class. By pairing them up with another child that has similar interests, there’s a possibility for connection and friendship in and outside the classroom.
9. Make it Clear How Long Activities Will Last
Children often do best when they know how long and activity will last. Not only will this make transitions easier, but it will also improve their participation and focus on the task at hand. Using a timer can make clear how long an activity will last.
10. Practice Social Skills
While your child may benefit the most from this, social-based activities can help the whole class in learning how to communicate and interact with each other. There are board games and card games that present social scenarios in ways that require children to discuss and think about how they’d move forward in the game and in a similar real-life scenarios.
A sure way for your child to succeed is to maintain a cohesive support system between the home and the classroom. Informing your child’s teacher on what they can do only strengthens that bond and opportunity for growth.