What is Autism (ASD)
“Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them” - The National Autistic Society (2020)
Autism is a neurological condition that affects hundreds of thousands of people in the UK, and of which, has no cure. Autism affects the way that people process and understand the world, meaning that it can affect every aspect of life. This information alone is why at Sammie Allen Tutoring, we feel it our responsibility to both understand autism, and promote inclusivity in education for all special educational needs. Early intervention is now understood to make a huge impact on the way that an autistic child copes in school, and in life, which is why we believe it is important that educators like us are trained, and skilled in order to identify and support children with autism.
How does Autism affect learning and education?
Below we have highlighted a few areas of education that some autistic children might not feel as easily accessible:
High noise levels and busy classroom activities
Breaks to normal daily routine
Non verbal cues such as hand gestures and eye contact
Focussing on lesson content that doesn’t match their interests
Emotive activities within lessons
Developing social skills between peers
So what can we do?
It is known that Autism Spectrum Disorder is individual - it affects every single child differently. However, there are still many commonalities that we recognise across different autistic students, which means we have the opportunity to learn and understand how to best support them, and make learning the most fun and interactive it can be!
Learn about the learner!
We often begin by taking the time to understand the student’s individual needs, and what subjects interest them the most! We spend time talking about common interests, making the student feel comfortable and safe, and reducing any anxiety they might feel about learning in general. Creating that bond can be the first step in ensuring that the child feels secure in the new learning environment.
Implement this in our sessions.
We understand that it is incredibly important for an autistic child’s focus levels to use the child’s interests in our lesson plans and activities. We find that by doing this, not only do the students enjoy the lesson content more, but they also feel more comfortable interacting with us.
Sticking to a routine
At Sammie Allen Tutoring, we have the ability to manipulate our own personal schedule to support our autistic students. We find that if our sessions are on the same day, at the same time each week, our autistic students are both more mentally prepared for the lesson, and engage better with the content.
Support and promote organisational strategies.
We understand that autistic learners are likely to have a different way of processing information, which can therefore have an impact on their ability to organise themselves, their homework, their revision and even their daily activities. Therefore to best support our autistic students, it is often beneficial to take a little bit of extra time to make learning plans, giving them the chance to teach us what is best for them!
Take breaks, and listen
The final, and arguably the most important part of supporting children with autism, is to understand that taking breaks and chunking our lesson content is essential when creating a comfortable learning environment. Busy activities and large amounts of new information can be overwhelming, which is why we promote the opportunity for all of our students at Sammie Allen Tutoring to have control over their learning journey. That includes taking breaks when necessary.
What can you do to learn more?
Below we have included many websites that you can access for free to learn about Autism in Education: