How to support an Autistic child in the classroom

When we acknowledge the difficulty Autistic students can have negotiating classroom environments, it makes sense to look into ways of supporting them better. Here is a starting point to get you thinking about what you can do. 

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Image title: How to support an Autistic child in the classroom
Copyright statement:
©Michelle Sutton *www.michellesuttonwrites.blogspot.com.au *Please credit when sharing *Do not reproduce without written permission

Classrooms are very difficult places for Autistic children. They are bright, noisy, uncomfortable and full of expectations. 
In a yellow box:
Child may
“be disruptive”: fidget, walk around, clap their hands, stamp their feet, vocalise loudly, hum, whistle, ask lots of questions, talk loudly to classmates, talk to themselves aloud
“be aggressive”: lash out at others, throw things, yell
“be unresponsive”: not answer when spoken to, hide, avoid eye contact, refuse to do assigned work
“be demanding”: tell others what to do, insist on having things their way, expect things to be done a certain way every time

In a blue box:
Things you can do
*be gentle and patient
*explain to other students that the child is having a hard time
*ask other students to be gentle and patient
*reduce audio, tactile, visual and smell distractions in the classroom
*use quit and calm times to talk to the child about behaviours that are unsafe for the classroom (lashing out, throwing, etc.)
*use visuals to communicate things the child needs help remembering (e.g. class expectations, daily schedule)
*provide ear defenders and fidget toys
*not expect the child to always respond immediately
*regularly offer breaks to destress, eat and use the bathroom
*allow fidgeting and doodling

In a green box
Things you can say
“I can see you are having a hard time”
“How can I help?”
“It’s OK. I understand. I am here for you.”
“Don’t worry, we will work it out”
“Do you need a break?”
“What do you need right now?”

In a red box
You should not
*label the child as ‘naughty’ or ‘a trouble maker’
*raise your voice
*say anything to shame the child (i.e. “how dare you”, “you should know better”, “even the little  kids don’t do that”, “you are being naughty/rude/disruptive”)
*punish the child for doing things they need to do to cope
*belittle the child if they need lots of support and encouragement
*rush the child to complete tasks or move on to the next activity
*attempt to force the child to do things

In an orange box at the bottom of the page
Remember: The child is not giving you a hard time-
the child is having a hard time and needs your help and support

In the middle of the page is an image of 4 basic person outlines, each head has a brain inside it and is a different colour, The larger person representing the teacher has a blue head. The three smaller people representing students have heads that are yellow, orange and red.

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