5 Top Tips for Supporting Children with Autism in School

Lily Wilson
At Prospero Learning, we offer a free, online, CPD certified course, ‘An Introduction to Autism in Schools’ which includes information on what autism is and how we can support our learners with autism. In this blog post, we will explore some of the ideas and strategies that are discussed during the course, offering 5 top tips that you can take away to use in your classrooms.  

As an educator, one of the most rewarding experiences is witnessing the growth and development of all your students. When it comes to supporting children with autism, teachers play a crucial role in creating an inclusive and nurturing learning environment. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects individuals in unique ways, making it essential for educators to understand and implement strategies that address their specific needs. 
1. Foster a Structured and Predictable Environment:
Children with autism tend to thrive in environments that provide structure and predictability. Establishing clear routines, visual schedules, and consistent expectations can help them navigate their day with less anxiety. Consider using visual aids such as calendars, timers, and visual cues to facilitate transitions between activities. Breaking down tasks into smaller, manageable steps and providing visual supports can also enhance comprehension and engagement.

2. Utilise Visual Supports and Communication Tools:
Visual supports are powerful tools that assist children with autism in understanding and processing information. Incorporate visual aids such as visual schedules, social stories, and visual cues to support their comprehension and communication. Visual supports can aid in conveying instructions, organizing information, and promoting independent work. Additionally, consider implementing augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems, such as picture exchange communication systems (PECS) or communication apps, to support expressive communication for non-verbal or limited verbal students.

3. Promote Social Skills Development:
Social interaction can be challenging for children with autism, but with guidance and support, they can develop essential social skills. Implement strategies that encourage peer interactions, such as structured group activities, cooperative learning, and buddy systems. Teach explicit social skills, like turn-taking, sharing, and perspective-taking, through visual supports, role-playing, and social stories. Creating a safe and inclusive classroom environment, where acceptance and empathy are promoted, can foster positive social experiences for all students.

4. Differentiate Instruction and Accommodate Individual Learner Needs:
Implement differentiated instruction techniques to cater to their individual needs. Provide multi-sensory learning experiences, visual aids, hands-on activities, and interactive technology to enhance their engagement and understanding. Break down complex tasks, provide additional processing time, and offer opportunities for repetition and reinforcement. Collaborate with special education professionals and support staff to develop individualised education plans (IEPs) that address specific learning goals and accommodations.

5. Collaborate with Parents and Support Professionals:
Maintaining open and effective communication with parents/guardians/carers and support professionals is paramount to supporting children with autism. Regularly update parents on their child's progress, challenges, and successes. Seek input from the child's therapy team or support professionals to align strategies and reinforce consistency between home and school environments. Collaboration promotes a holistic approach to the child's development and ensures a shared understanding of their needs, strengths, and areas of growth.

By implementing these five top tips, teachers can create an inclusive and supportive educational environment for children with autism. Remember that each student is unique, and a personalised approach is crucial. Sign up to our professional development opportunities at Prospero Learning to enhance your understanding of autism and evidence-based practices. With your dedication and commitment, you can make a profound difference in the lives of children with autism, enabling them to reach their full potential in school and beyond.

For more from Prospero Learning, head over to our website to register with us, sign up to free on-demand courses, check out our library of blogs, or find out about the live CPD courses we have coming up. As ever, the cost of our online webinars and in-person courses is fully refundable (minus the booking fee) for attendees who register with Prospero Teaching.