Tuesday, August 5, 2014

8 Ways to Help Children with ASD Succeed in School

(Today’s post is a guest post from Pediatric neuropsychologist Dr. Lee Ann Grisolano who works with children and adolescents and is an expert in Neurodevelopmental Evaluations. Dr. Grisolano specializes in: Independent Educational Evaluations (IEEs) for students who are difficult to diagnose, Psychotherapy geared towards children or adolescents and their families who are struggling with emotional and behavioral issues relevant to a diagnosed neurodevelopmental disorder (e.g., ADD/ADHD, Autism Spectrum, Tourette syndrome) and Cognitive training & rehabilitation. In addition, Dr. Grisolano is an experienced college professor, published researcher and accomplished presenter and writer.)

autismAffecting 1 in 62 children, ASD is one of the fast-growing developmental disabilities in the United States. Although Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is becoming more common, many aspects of the disorder can be problematic for the daily life of not only the diagnosed, but also the parents and teachers of those with the disorder. School can often pose a threat to those challenged by the symptoms of ASD. But don’t worry—here are 8 ways to help children with ASD succeed in an academic environment:

1. Independent Educational Evaluation—An Independent Educational Evaluation, also known as an IEE, is an evaluation conducted by someone outside of the school system. This evaluation is often sought after when parents of a child with a neurodevelopmental disorder does not agree with the evaluation conducted by the school system. In the case of a child with ASD, parents may disagree with the child’s school programming due to an impression that the child is not getting enough, or the right kinds of, services. By law, parents have the right to seek an IEE. For more information, or to see if your child qualifies, click here.

2. Individual Attention—It’s difficult for teachers to offer individual attention when there’s a classroom filled with 30 other children. However, this is one accommodation that is nevertheless necessary in order to help level the playing field in the classroom and offer students with ASD the same opportunity for academic success. For example, when teaching, make sure to address the pupil with ASD by his or her name to ensure understanding (but don’t overuse it—you can also use sounds to help gain the child’s attention). This one-on-one attention will provide the student with extra support.

3. Clarity—Another key to academic success is clarity. It’s important to be as clear as possible when going over instructions, assignments, homework, etc. Keep your sentences simple and concise. Sarcasm and complex language can cause misunderstanding, and will sometimes cause a great deal of frustration. Simplicity is key.

4. ASD Friendly Environment—Whether it be at home or in a classroom, structure plays a large role when establishing an ASD-friendly environment. One of the easiest ways to do this is to develop and abide by a routine. This will help eliminate any unnecessary anxiety, as change often poses as an emotional trigger for children with ASD.

5. Eliminate Distractions—This goes hand-in-hand with an ASD-friendly environment. Children with ASD pay attention to detail. Try to eliminate unnecessary background noise and avoid seating students with ASD in high-flow areas, such as near windows and doors. If distractions occur and the student becomes overwhelmed, offer 10-15 minutes of alone time to restore his or her emotional state.

6. Use Visuals—Visuals are great tools to help students with ASD. For example, place an image of someone washing their hands near the sink or brushing their teeth in the bathroom to help teach and/or remind the child of proper hygiene. You can use visuals in both the home and classroom, as this will establish consistency between the two. But remember—make sure to keep the visuals simple.

7. Encourage Independence—Although children with neurodevelopmental disorders need extra help to some extent, they can often live independent lives. Establishing a developmentally appropriate level of independence early on is a vital part of the child’s development. Give the child the opportunity to make independent decisions, and reward the positive ones.

8. Results may vary—ASD is not a “one size fits all” disorder. It’s important to understand that each child is unique, and exhibits and copes with the symptoms of disorder differently. The biggest key to success is to fully understand the child’s disorder and behavior. Only then can you begin to help the child adapt to his or her academic surroundings.

For more information on how you can help your child with academic success, visit www.grisolano.com.

Image: 'Autism Awareness Ribbon, Colorful Puzzle Pieces, +Free+Creative+Commons+Public+Domain+Download'
Found on flickrcc.net


Sioux said...

Thanks, Pat. So many kids are diagnosed under the autism umbrella, and these hints are helpful reminders.

new teacher said...

Great post! There's some really helpful stuff here. Keep up the good work!