Teaching children is a hard work for some teachers because you have to be very creative in everything you do in order to teach them, what material you will use, activities, games, etc. We as teachers have to be aware of everything that involves teaching young children such as age, emotional and social development, physical development, cognitive development and so on.
If teaching young children might be difficult, imagine teaching children with learning problems, for example autistic children. Teaching autistic children might be hard because they do not learn the way they majority of children learn. You have to be more patient, use the right tools, activities and games for them.
Children with Autism.Edit
Autism Spectrum Disorder usually called autism is a disorder that affects the brain development. The brain does not develop as the brain of people that do not have autism. People with autism have trouble in making sense of the word.
Our brain understands what we smell, hear, taste, touch, learn, see every day, but if we are talking about the brain of a child with autism, it is hard for them to do all those things; they cannot make connections in everything they see around them.
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder might have trouble learning the meaning of words, do a lot of repetition, have trouble with changes (trying new things, having toys moved from their places, etc).
It is unknown what causes autism in people. It is believed that it is something in the children’s genes, or children get autism because it runs in their families, but for scientists it is unknown yet. The brain is very complicated to study because a normal brain has billions of neurons and those neurons make lots of connections all around the brain. On the other hand in the brain of a child with autism those connections do not develop normally.
There is no cure for the autism, but the people who has this disorder and it is not that severe, they can have a normal life but with language therapies.
Once we know what autism is we can talk about how to teach a kid with autism. First of all, what we as teacher have to know is that autistic children do not learn the same way as a normal child learns.
When teaching a child with autism it is very important to focus primarily in the reading and speaking skills, because this will be the way they are going to communicate. As their brains do not make the right connections, it is difficult for them to communicate, consequently they do feel frustrated.
When we are going to teach an autistic child we can use flashcard with nouns. These flashcards should have the name of the noun and a drawing so children can recognize whole words. One important thing is that autistic children do not see the alphabet as a whole; they do not see letter by letter, they just know they sound of the letters and that is how they form words.
If you ask children to match a drawing with the meaning, and they match it correctly they learnt the meaning of that drawing, and that is a big step for them and for us as teachers because now we know that they are able to give a meaning to something that were just “words” for them and with that big step they will be able to learn simple sentences in order to communicate.
Autistic children tend to focus attention on details, or single words, rather that global coherence, that is the way children with autism are taught with vocabulary, especially with nouns. As these children are more familiarized with the vocabulary they are learning and the syntax through reading, they will be more receptive to the verbal communication of others.
It is very important that when teaching autistic children all the instructions given should be clear and said with mimic, because they might not understand what you are trying to tell them.
Once they are more familiarized with a big amount of vocabulary and they understand them it is necessary to give them easy books to read, so they can start reading whole sentences. Also we have to keep in mind that it is new for them so they might feel frustrated at the beginning.
When autistic children know a big amount of vocabulary and their meanings they have to practice writing skills, so every time they are learning vocabulary they have to learn to think in order to create their own sentences. Those sentences may start from the easier ones to the more complex.
They can use their flashcards in order to create their sentences. One activity that can work is that they create their sentences with flashcard with the vocabulary they know, paste them on the board and then copy them on their notebooks, so they develop their writing skills and with the practice it would be easier for them to communicate.
Teaching children a second language sometimes is difficult for some teachers, because they are little kids that you have to be pushing them to learn, but one advantage of it is that you can have them in the same classroom, you may use different activities and strategies with them. But when we talk about an autistic child, having them in the same classroom with other non-autistic kids may be difficult because all your attention as a teacher should be on them and just for them. The way of teaching autistic children is completely different and also the way they learn.