Get started

Autism in the Classroom: Helpful Hints

May 2, 2014

Teaching and Tutoring Children with Autism: Helpful Hints

On this page, teachers, tutors, and parents will find a number of tactical suggestions that will make you more effective as a teacher, whether you are a classroom teacher, a tutor, or a parent.

Teachers may feel that the child with autism presents too many challenges to handle. Put two or three into a classroom and the conscientious teacher may start to feel overwhelmed, especially if that teacher has not received the proper training and the continuing support he or she needs.

These are the most common challenges that children with Autism may need to overcome to succeed as students:

  • Processing Delays
  • Sensory Issues
  • Social skill deficits
  • Problems of expression
  • Motor skill challenges

Below is a list of tactical suggestions that can help teacher and tutors as well as parents become more effective with educating the children in their charge.

Pick your battles

Prioritize what issues you will address and seek expert help in prioritizing your concerns. The best behavioral interventions are those that are sometimes referred to as pivotal, in that addressing one important behavior will make a difference across many areas.

Always error on the side of gentleness

Kindness, empathy, and compassion are not just character traits. They are also the most effective tools that any teacher can apply to help children with autism. Understand that you are only human and you may make mistakes, but never hesitate to apologize and step back from a mistaken position or opinion. Even in this, you are modeling essential behavior that all children need to learn.

Do not make rules you cannot enforce; set realistic goals

Make goals and set standards that are readily doable. Remember that prior successes are the fundamental building blocks of future successes. Down the road, you can always stretch the expectations.

Become a master listener

When a child with communication problems finally reaches out, the greatest encouragement they can receive is knowing that they are being heard and that their words have impact.

Extend your observation capabilities

Things are not always as they seem. If a child is exhibiting difficult behaviors begin to observe and record what happens prior to that behavior and what results does the behavior bring. (read about Functional Behavior Assessments)

Partner with students to meet challenges

In addressing concerns, as the student gets older, he or she can be consulted with to help develop solutions. All people automatically resist problems presented in an adversarial way. Instead of telling a student this needs to be fixed, we can ask what can we do to fix this problem so that things are easier.

Establish and go the extra mile to maintain good relations with parents (or teachers if you are the parent)

Nothing is gained by teachers and parents becoming adversaries. You don’t always have to be right, but you will always need the support of parents at home.

Put it in the IEP

Any ongoing behavior interventions or ones that may need revisiting should always be put into a child’s IEP. This can help the teacher get the support needed as well coordinate consistence compliance among all those responsible for help the student. Furthermore, when the child moves to another class, it keeps certain problems from falling the wayside.

Get the training and help you need

Let people know when you are dealing with a situation beyond your expertise. Be vocal in your expectation of expert assistance.

Be kind to yourself

Butterfly Effects can provide whatever help and support you may need through several different services:

  • Direct ABA-based behavior interventions by trained behavior consultants that are now covered by many insurance providers
  • Functional Behavior Assessments to determine how antecedents and consequences of a behavior encourage its existence
  • IEP development and review
  • Parent and teacher training
  • Telephone consultation (a new more affordable option for parents servings as primary caregivers)
  • Help with improving the physical environment to eliminate distractions and sensory concerns
Father playing with his little girl at home Father playing with his little girl at home