Working in a school with Autistic pupils can be daunting for new members of your Teaching Assistant and Support teams. Preparing them for the difficulties that they may face can help to set them up for success.
Teach As Individuals
It is important for these new team members (or those without the experience) to understand that each pupil with Autism needs to be treated as an individual. With each individual with Autism having different traits, strengths and weaknesses, it is important that there is no set expectation, and time is taken to get to know, understand and help each.
Remove Hidden Curriculum
The likes of social skills are never really a part of the curriculum, however, in many areas of education they are considered a part of the “hidden curriculum”. For many with Autism, this needs to be included as a more direct approach. There are certain things that may have to be explicitly taught (like analogies). Model appropriate social skills and discuss how our behaviour can make others feel.
Keep Language Direct
Many individuals with Autism have trouble understanding figurative language and interpret it in very concrete terms. This may serve as a great opportunity to teach figurative language and hidden meanings in certain terms. But remember this needs to be done on an individual basis, not an assumption that they will not understand.
Having predictability in the classroom eases anxiety for individuals with Autism and can help avoid distraction. Pupils can become less worried or curious about what will happen next allowing them to focus on the work at hand. When unpredictable changes are necessary, it’s a great time to display how to handle changes appropriately.
Most importantly, avoid sensory overload. Sensory overload can distract individuals with Autism from the task at hand, whether that be study or social interactions. By reducing fluorescent lights, smells, and noises they can have a more peaceful learning environment.
If your team would benefit from further knowledge of Autism, our online Level 3 Qualification, Understanding Autism has been designed to increase their knowledge and understanding, setting them up for a positive working environment that can benefit them, the school, and the children involved. For more information, please contact the team today.