Many people have been asking me this week about any tips I have when working or living with people who have a diagnosis of ASC or display symptoms of ASC. So here are my top 10. They are in no particular order and as every person will have different sensory, societal differences not all of the tips will apply to every individual.
1. Avoid eye contact – Eye contact can be very disturbing and even painful for some people with ASC. Try sitting next to them rather than in front of them and do not insist they look at you when you’re talking to them.
2. Avoid waiting time – waiting can lead to anxiety which can lead to a melt down, so allow the child with Autism to go first or be at the front of a queue, this will make life easier for you both.
3. Allow self calming – Many people with ASC will recognise the signs of stress and imminent meltdown, at this point they may leave the room or begin some other self calming actions, allow them to continue with this as it is developing not only self awareness and self control but it may prevent a meltdown or need for restraint.
4. Allow thinking time – Every person will need some time to process information, for people with ASC this time may need to be extended as they process the information given and then process a response.
5. Recognise regression – following a meltdown or period of self calming a person with ASC may regress, this is not uncommon and may support the return to the neurotypical world.
6. Explain, reinforce and check – As any teacher will know these are all important tools for teaching anything. For the individual with ASC these tools are even more important. Transferring skills can be very difficult so you may need to start from the beginning again each time you change topics. Counting cars or counting dinosaurs to the child with ASC are different.
7. Support Routines – All schools follow some sort of timetable. This can be great for the child with ASC although they may become very ‘locked into’ the routine that they find the inevitable changes difficult to cope with, so give as much advance warning of changes as possible.
8. Learning styles – There is a lot of discussion about the relevance of learning styles in the classroom, but the child with ASC will learn very differently to others, so be prepared to have an alternative teaching style. You may find other children benefit from this too.
9. Do not try to make the child fit the school – children with ASC are less likely to fit into the schools plans than other children, be prepared to change your plans to fit the child. Pretending a child can adapt to fit into society will not help raise awareness of a hidden disability. This is about the structure of the school, its policies and procedures. The child with ASC may not be able to eat with other children or use the classroom toilets, so the school may need to make some changes to adapt to these needs.
10. Never forget individuality – Every child is an individual including every child with ASC, this condition will affect every person differently and the strategies you need will change from child to child too.
I have other tips, many of them are mentioned in my regular tweets, and others have been developed to meet the needs of specific children and adults. If you have any questions or would like any advice you can contact me here in comments or on twitter @oagconsultants or you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading