Organize the space in the environment Can the student identify his/her own space to work or play or sit? How does (s)he know?
In order to facilitate the student’s identification of the different spaces an attempt would be made to divide the space markedly using furniture. Cubicles or partitioned desks would be ideal for students to have as their working area; the sitting area would have a large mat, and the play area would be filled with puffs and colorful toys.
Give information How do students get information to answer the who, what, why, where, when questions?
When giving students instructions it is important to be overly thorough. It would be best to issue the explanations via questions and answers (and even using visual aids) so that the student learns to interpret information and associate it with either who, what, why, where, or when.
Explain social situations People are moving, changing and often unpredictable. How do you help your child understand the confusing social world?
It is possible that certain social situations might seem confusing to autistic children, so it is advisable to resort to stories that incorporate visual aids to facilitate understanding. As well, students could engage in role playing activities so that they can experience those social situations themselves and learn to identify them.
Give choices. How do students know what the options are? What is available? What is not available?
When giving the explanations to the students, it is important that they be explained both the tasks they will have to complete and the rewards that they can expect to gain after completing them. Be detailed when giving explanations so that they student knows what he can/cannot do.
Give structure to the day. How do you tell the child what is happening or what is not happening throughout the day (the big picture)?
It is recommended that at the beginning of each school day the teacher goes over the entire day’s schedule of activities. The student needs to have a routine so that he can assimilate instruction. Any changes need to be explained in advance, and follow ups should be constantly made (Ganz, 2007). (Note: visual schedules with colors and pictures are always recommended).
Teach routines. How do you teach your child to learn how to follow multiple steps in a routine?
It is recommended that to teach students a routine that routine be broken up into individual, sequential steps. As well, illustrations that allow students to visualize each step are required to facilitate learning. Finally, autistic students can benefit greatly from repetition, so it is important that they repeat the same routine over and over again.
Organize materials in the environment. How do students know where to put supplies away when it is clean up time?
In order to help students organize their materials and supplies when it is time to clean up, it is advisable to set up boxes with different colors and/or names/pictures (Scheuermann & Webber, 2002). Seeing the colors, names, and/or pictures, students associate the supplies they are putting away with each box and they can place each supply in the right box.
Teach new skills. How do students learn about a new toy, new task or academic skill?
New skills would be taught following the same methodology of detailed instruction and visual aids. Once again, students must be allowed to practice and repetition is always helpful.
Support transitions and change. How do you help a child to stop one activity to start another, or move from one environment to another?
Timers and/or music can be used to help students keep track of time while working on their day’s activities. Changes in music, for instance, can be an indication for the student to get up and move to another station to start a new task (or go to recess, for that matter).
Stay on task. How do students remember what the current activity is, ignore distractions and understand what it means to be “finished?”
Keeping the noise down throughout the day’s activities is fundamental to help autistic students stay concentrated. In cases when distractions do happen, teachers should carefully, and gently, remind the student to get back to work. Finally, once time is up music can be played or the teacher can simply approach each student and gently ask for their work.
Manage time and waiting. How do you help a child to wait, and/or understand the difference between 5 minutes or one hour?
Using a clock or a stopwatch is helpful, just as long as the student can see it. Visualization is important for students to understand differences in time.
Guide self-management. How do students learn how to manage themselves when they get anxious or encounter a problem?
If an autistic student becomes anxious he/she must have some kind of mechanism that allows him/her to take break and calm down. This being said, teachers can help by giving them time-out cards, inviting them to raise their hands when something troubles them, etc. It is important that autistic students get an opportunity to evacuate their anxiety in a peaceful, supporting environment.
Aid memory. How do you help students remember what to do or when to do it?
As it was mentioned, visual aids are fundamental in helping students memorize things. Visualization capacity is strong in autistic children, so their environment should be set up in a way that helps them understand what they are meant to do and/or memorize.
The students’ environment is perhaps the most important element when attempting to provide efficient instruction to autistic children. These students have a heightened sense of sight, and so it is important that there is visual clarity as to the environment’s layout and overall presentation. In this sense, area separations, the use of coloring and other visual aids is highly recommended in order to help students feel more comfortable. As well, this will facilitate their understanding of organization and of what is expected of them in each of the day’s activities (F.ogus, 2005).