Although all children have the right to education, for those diagnosed with autism it is a real challenge because there is still a lot of misinformation, stigmatization, and discrimination of this condition. Dr. Pamela Muñoz, pediatric neurologist of our clinic, gives us valuable advice for parents, teachers, and family to support the development of these children:
- Establish an integrated team between the school (teachers and educational psychologist), therapists and family. In this way you can maintain constant communication and set clear objectives for the child to develop different skills, considering their interests and tastes. In this way, they will feel motivated to learn, share and communicate.
- Design a routine. Children with autism have difficulty modifying their schedules. Many times, they go into crisis because of their resistance to change, so it is essential that parents and teachers work together to create an agenda of their daily activities; this way the child will be less anxious. Creating a visual schedule is a great option because it gives them security and helps them exercise their memory.
- On the worksheets in class, include a sequence of tasks, step by step, in a brief and clear manner, with supporting drawings. This will allow you to have an outline and guide to carry out the activity.
- When you are going to finish the class, remember to have a progressive transition time, not an abrupt one, so that he/she adapts. Keep in mind that these little ones have a hard time accepting change.
- Use clear and unambiguous language when explaining something to avoid confusion. For example, say “sit down” instead of “don’t stand up”, “walk” instead of “don’t run”.
- Anticipate environmental situations that could distress him/her since it is usual for a child with autism to have difficulties in sensory processing (sound stimuli). In this context, turn down the volume of the music or put on headphones to reduce the noise.
- Celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem. Compliments help build their self-esteem and confidence. However, some like them and some don’t, so you should individualize the level and type of compliment you like.
- Give them time. Create a safe space within your school environment to give them time out at this site. A space where they can calm down if they feel overwhelmed, anxious, or have difficulty coping with a situation throughout the school day.
Dr. Pamela Muñoz
Pediatric neurologist at Clínica Ricardo Palma