7 Ways to Help Kids with Autism Learn

Improve your child's focus and social skills with these strategies.

Click on an item in the set below to see more info.

Visual Over Verbal

Difficulty: Auditory Processing

Strategy: Show instead of tell. Use pictures, symbols, or written supports. Sequence pictures to show routines or rules. Provide picture schedules so students know what is coming next. Foster expressive language by using the Picture Exchange Communication System, a picture-based language.

Take Time to Think

Difficulty: Processing Time

Strategy: Allow children more time to respond. Pause and wait when you make a request. Provide simple, single step directives to not overwhelm students.

Sensory Breaks

Difficulty: Sensory Needs

Strategy: Give frequent breaks for children to run, swing, or just move around! Provide a quiet environment without distracting noises. Set up a break area where children can engage their senses with soft toys, clay, musical instruments, and bean bag chairs.

Refocus and Repeat

Difficulty: Distractibility

Strategy: Identify distracting objects and modify the environment. Redirect to a new activity or task. Prompt to refocus. Provide hand-over-hand manipulation when needed. Use natural lighting and soft voices when possible.

Keep It Social

Difficulty Addressed: Social Deficits

Strategy: Set up "buddy systems" or "peer tutoring" so children can observe behaviors of nondisabled peers. Encourage participation in extracurricular activities for children with special needs. Read social stories that model social cues and develop specific interpersonal skills.

Sculpt Skills for Life

Difficulty Addressed: Basic Life Skills

Strategy: Set up situations where children can learn basic living skills. Practice good hygiene, going to the doctor, or shopping. Develop routines and rules for different situations through practice and social stories.

Frustration and Feelings

Difficulty: Expression of Emotion with Behaviors

Strategy: Children with autism generally express feelings differently. Behavior is often the only way they can express anger, sadness, boredom, or anxiety. When a child exhibits a challenging behavior take a step back. Help him calm down. Try to identify the inciting stimulus and remove it.

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