A year ago I had a class with a couple of children diagnosed with ASC. I wish I knew more at the time. I was less prepared than I thought I was. Last night we had a great staff meeting session from one of our Year 2 teachers, Sharyn, who shared her knowledge and experience about ASC. Here is a summary of the information I wish I knew when I had ASC students in the past.
The amygdala is generally larger in children with this condition which suggests that ASC may be impacted by the growth of the brain. Children with ASC are not all the same – each individual has different traits. Visual learning is a primary method of understanding the world – visual cue cards can be an effective way of conveying instructions. Special interests are a great motivation but can change regularly – need to be aware of what the latest interest is (sometimes interests last days or only hours). Uptake time with information is important. Routine is important so if there is a change it’s good to consider how to manage it with ASC students. Sensory needs vary but there are impacts on the senses with ASC students (noise, temperature, proximity to others etc.). Anxiety is a key trigger for emotional intensity – meltdowns can be avoided when the signals are read (too late when it’s started) by suggesting thought blockers. Parents are experts on their child – use them by working with them, asking them what works at home.
As an aside, we also had some great information about working with Dyslexia thanks to Kel and Bec. A couple of suggestions which stand out: – use blue highlighter along the lines they write on as well as specially printed pages available on the internet. Use of blutak to do the spaces between words in sentences as a kinetic strategy for students.