World Autism Day is observed every year on April 2 by the United Nations with the intention to create awareness about people with autism, encourage international support and inspire individuals. This year’s theme is ‘Inclusive Education’ emphasizing the critical importance of education for people on the autism spectrum in realizing their full potential and achieving long-term employment success.

Medicine defines Autism as a complex neurobehavioral condition that impairs social behaviour and interferes with the development of language, communication skills of a child and is often associated with rigid and repetitive behaviour. Since it involves a wide range of issues related to behaviour, communication and skills at various levels, it is also called as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Autism Awareness Day

What Causes Autism?

There is no single cause that is responsible for autism. Doctors believe that various factors like genetics, non-genetics, the environment can be behind this neurobehavioral condition.

Signs and Symptoms:

The signs of autism usually appear within the first three years of a child’s life, but few kids may show signs from the birth itself. It is mostly found in boys than in girls. Children with autism often signal repetitive behavior, delayed response, uneven development while learning basic skills.

Few autism kids are also extremely sensitive to sound, touch, smell while others display violent, aggressive behaviour and resist changes in their routine.

However, not everything is bad about children with autism. Many autistic children display great skills in painting, singing, playing musical instruments, solving toughest mathematical problems, memorizing facts etc.

In fact, history reveals that great scientists like Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin were all autistic, yet reached dizzying heights in their respective careers.

So, the next time you see an autistic child, do not underestimate their abilities. Learn about a few simple behavioral strategies that would make their life easier and help them to lead a normal life.

Manage Time:

Autistic children face difficulty in understanding on how to complete a given task, in the given time. For instance, if you ask a child to draw a picture in ten minutes and if he or she is unable to do it in the stipulated time, it may cause unnecessary aggression. Instead, use a timer or a sand timer to explain the child on how much time has been left out to finish the task.

Be Generous With Rewards:

Be encouraging and praise the child after finishing each task or for good behaviour. It is important to appreciate the child’s effort and often reward the kid with extra playtime or treats they like. Keep informing the child that you are proud of his or her good behaviour.

Distract From Irritants:

Autism kids often tend to exhibit violent behaviour and it is important to know the triggers. Help the child to react calmly, distract attention from whatever is annoying the kid. Keep repeating to do ‘good job’, ‘good behavior’ and help the child get over the fear and anger.

Ensure Quiet Surroundings:

Autistic children are highly sensitive to sound. If the child is getting aggressive, take the kid away from noise, and calm down with the help of a favourite toy or items which can easily distract the attention. Talk to the counsellor to understand how to deal with the child in crowded places.

Give Options:

It is important to train an autistic kid to have some amount of control overr a few things. It makes the child feel confident and empowered. Let the child make his/her own decisions about drinking a juice, wearing a dress, let them choose their own colours, pick out a treat, take them to a place of their choice, etc.

With every passing year, the number of children who have autism in school is growing gradually, and hence it is extremely important for both parents and teachers to require a deep understanding of the strategies and social skills needed to handle a class of autistic children. We bring you some simple tips that teachers can take to help them learn, academically and socially.

Teacher teaching an autistic child

Simple Tips To Educate An Autistic Child

Avert From Sensory Overload

An autistic child very often gets distracted due to various unexpected things like fluorescent lights, smells, and noises from other students making it difficult for them to concentrate. Try using cool, calm colours and avoid too many posters on the walls or loud music in the background to gradually build concentration in them.

Create A Structured Environment

Children with autism feel much more comfortable and connected when they have a set routine with clear structures, and minimal alterations from their predicted schedule. So, ensure that the learning environment and lesson plans are structured in a manner that provides clear instructions to the students as well as educators.

Employ Visual Aids

Visuals are an important aspect of teaching young children, particularly for children with autism. Things like line drawings, photographs or picture cards and stickers can be a great way to teach them instead of the usual lengthy description.