Because children who fall on the autism spectrum learn differently than other children, it’s important to alter their lesson plans to fit the parameters of their needs. A good education is crucial to helping your child make the right decisions (and steer clear of poor choices) as they get older, so making sure they’re learning as much as possible early on will give them a good head start.
This can prove tricky, however, and some parents and teachers aren’t sure where to start. The first thing to do is make a list of the things your child needs assistance with. Some of the biggest issues that children on the autism spectrum face include communication, motor skills, and language. Engaging them in these areas every day will help them build stronger skills, so it’s imperative to create a lesson that encourages your child to face these challenges.
Fortunately, there are several games, puzzles, and lessons you can do with your child or student that will aid in these areas. Here are some of the best.
Motor skills board
Fine motor skills are often difficult for children on the autism spectrum to master, so one of the easiest ways to help them learn how to manipulate objects is to create a board full of small items such as zippers, buttons, flaps, and knobs. You can pick up notions at a local crafts store and sew them individually onto a piece of fabric, which can be wrapped around a piece of sturdy cardboard and secured with staples or glue.
Bag full of questions
Many children on the autism spectrum have trouble acknowledging that others have information they don’t, so a game of “What’s In The Bag?” will help them understand how to relay questions to find out what’s inside. Fill the bag with items from around the house that interest your child, such as toy dinosaurs, coins, etc. and guide them toward the right conclusion by encouraging them to ask about shape, size, and color.
Asking for help
Help your child learn to ask for help by providing him with a puzzle that has one piece missing. When he comes to the part that requires this piece, he’ll need to figure out how to request help from an adult. For nonverbal children, this can be a frustrating exercise, so be sure to give him a picture card or work out a hand signal.
Writing and grasping a pencil can be difficult tasks for children on the autism spectrum, but you can help them practice by providing a laminated piece of paper full of large letters. Give the child a dry erase marker and have him practice tracing the letters on the laminate.
Art allows children to express themselves in a way they may not be able to with words or signals, so it’s important to give a child on the autism spectrum the tools to create. Set up a mirror and give him a piece of paper and a crayon or paints and have him draw a self portrait. You may do the same to show him how to do it.