Teaching students: Autism

How to provide the needed support

1 in 54 children has Autism Spectrum Disorder and 1 in 6 have been diagnosed with a developmental disability. As these numbers continue to grow, it’s so important that teachers have the tools they need to support these students and help them learn, academically and socially. With a quick web search, there are many articles and websites that outline specific steps on working with children with Autism. These are very helpful and provide a wonderful starting place for working with children with Autism. But there are a few more things you can do to make sure you’re a supportive teacher and your school is a supportive environment for these students.

1. Don’t rely on instructive training, take advantage of hands-on training with students with Autism

An important method is hands-on training rather than relying on instructive training. Through the direct experience of working with students with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), teachers can comprehend the range of characteristics each student with ASD may bring into the classroom.  

2. Seek Autism training from a variety of sources

Teachers should seek training from a variety of sources, including collaboration with the parents of students with ASD. This hands-on training of working with their ASD child can provide foreseen challenges and the child’s learning strengths. In addition, this collaboration provides a support network essential for children with ASD.  

3. Collaborate with administration

Suggest to your administration the important of utilizing pre-service and in-service to train in the use of evidence-based practices (EBP) specific to students with ASD. According to The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders, there are 28 Evidence Based Practices for Autism .  Advocate for hands-on training with students and their families by practicing EBPs: Video Monitoring (VM), Prompting (P), and Reinforcement (R) pre & in-service training.  

And finally, please remember that Autism is a diagnosis but doesn’t define who someone is as a person. Each student has their own strengths, weaknesses, passions, and desires. And that’s what makes them amazing.

Hilary Gallegos completed her Master’s degree in Mental and Behavioral Health Counseling at Carson Newman university in 2013. She worked with numerous mental health disorders for several years at Blount Memorial Hospital. She was inspired by overcoming challenges with managing her own  mental health disorder to become a counselor. She believes treatment is specific to each person and enjoys the journey of helping others discover their strategies. Hilary is an avid gardener, mountain biker, and hiker. “These activities are what ground me and help my state of mental health by being present with nature.”

The Mental Health Association offers all services to eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin or disability.

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