15 Jun Fostering a learning environment for children with autism
Parents of children with Autism do an amazing job everyday of dealing with ordinary situations in an extraordinary way. When it comes to providing a good learning experience, this also needs to be approached in a planned and strategic manner to provide the ideal environment for the child’s education.
Children with Autism take in a lot more sensory information than other children, and this means that we need to set a controlled environment in order to achieve effective learning. Some of the ways in which we can do this are:
- Try to set apart a separate room or space for the child to spend the main part of the day. This will serve as a safe area where you can control the environment and inputs.
- Remove any unnecessary sensory equipment from televisions to music players to even overly bright or mildly flickering fluorescent lights. The lighting should be bright but not overwhelming, and the colours of the room should also be soothing ones, avoiding loud oranges and reds as much as possible.
- Any clutter in the room should be disposed of, and books and toys kept away within cupboards or shelves as much as possible. The more things there are lying around, the more of a distraction for the child. An autistic child takes in nearly any sensory input around them, so what may not disturb another child may break their concentration on something else very easily.
- Introducing predictability and organization in their routines would also be a good way to help the child, as this is one of the most calming techniques to use and will encourage the child to face the experience without fear.
- Parents of children with autism face many challenges when it comes to communication with the child. While trying to foster a learning environment and help the child to study better, they may be able to develop orderly and unusual techniques, and find a way of communicating with the child in a patient manner. This can be tried using toys of interest to the child, and encouraging the child to communicate by some means when he wants something during play or study time.
These are just some basic steps to help support parents and children, and to develop a safe, soothing and fostering environment for learning in children with autism. Children may even go on to be contributing adults later in life, and one such example is an iPad app called Soroban, that is based on the Abacus, and has been developed by adult students who have Aspergers or Autism.
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