Students with autism display difficulties with understanding communication appropriate use of speech.
Teachers in mainstream or special ED classrooms must provide autistic students with information on lessons, events, activities, and rules or expectations in a consistent manner which the autistic students can easily understand.
Generally autistic children are visual thinkers and learners, meaning they think in pictures. Therefore visual strategies will work best for teaching students with autism social interaction skills as well as other important classroom skills and behaviours. Visual schedules can used to provide an autistic student with an overview of the day, for example lesson order, when break and recess will happen etc.
Many teachers of students with autism also find mini-schedules helpful. A mini-schedule breaks a certain skill or activity down into smaller components showing the steps a student will need to take to complete the task.
Teachers of students with autism can also use PECS or visual support cards to help support communication. The visual support cards are also used in both the visual schedule as well as the mini-schedule. Visual support cards are generally small laminated picture cards with appropriate text under the picture.
While most students with autism will learn to use speech to communicate, many still have great difficulty in expressing their needs and desires, therefore visual support cards are introduced as a means of communication.
Teachers of students with autism also implement social stories that help with teaching students with autism social interaction skills, classroom rules, about transitions and how to perform skills and activities they struggle with. Â For example recess, many ASD students struggle with recess and the unpredictability of other children running around, noise and general chaos are very stressful and confusing to a child with autism. Using social skills stories can reduce some of the anxieties felt by the child with autism.
The vast majority of students with autism need direct instruction in social and communication skills.
Most ASD students do not learn social interaction skills by simply being placed in social environments and will need direct teaching in the same way they learn other academic skills.
Using social skills stories for students with autism as visual strategies can be beneficial. Social skills stories for students with autism are designed to teach the child with autism how to cope with certain tasks and activities that they do not understand. The social skill story answers the “wh” questions who, where, why, when and what as well as giving an insight into the emotions and thoughts of others, and how to respond in certain social situations.
Social stories should be written in first person text, use visual images, be editable and printable for convenience of use. Social skills stories are used for teaching students with autism social interaction skills such as recess, break times, assembly, shared reading, asking questions, making friends, hygiene as well as other skills like saying thank you and so on.
To find out more about the benefits of using any of these visual strategies visit:
For social skills stories for students with autism: http://www.autismsocialstories.com/school_resources
For visual support cards visit: http://www.autismsocialstories.com/visual_aids