Quick tips and strategies for helping students with autism in the class room

May 2018 – How a child may act at school if they have proprioceptive difficulties… the sense of ones’ own body in relation to itself and things around it.

If a child is under-responsive, their behaviour will be sensory seeking.

Some examples:

  • Doing things too hard… walking, pushing, banging, in the way they play with objects
  • Have insatiable energy… be loud, rough, crash into things
  • May show in how they treat their body… knuckle cracking, chewing their fingers, biting their nails until they bleed
  • Wear their clothes tight… turtle necks, keep zips on jumpers/jackets done all the  way up, wear their belts tight

If a child has poor body awareness and motor control, he or she may show it through:

  • Poor coordination… with climbing, running, biking, ball skills etc.
  • Can’t tie shoe laces
  • Bumping into things
  • Tripping and falling
  • Have problems with stairs

Postural instability may be demonstrated by:

  • Appearing limp and lethargic
  • Slumping at the desk
  • Needing to rest their head on their hands when working at a desk
  • Find it hard to do balancing tasks

To help a student with sensory difficulties, teachers can make changes to the environment, to materials, activities or the way they give instructions.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Seat a child who is light sensitive, away  from windows
  • Seat a child who is noise sensitive away from the door or hallway noise
  • Make a quiet, non‐visually stimulating area for the student to work at so he or she can concentrate
  • Providing a rocking chair or beanbag can help with calming
  • For students with visual challenges, use larger print on the page to stop words flowing into one another
  • Let the student do their work on a computer, if handwriting is too difficult for them or their writing illegible
  • For students with auditory sensitivity, provide earphones or ear plugs to block out disturbing sounds. Other students  may need to wear headphones that have white noise so that they can concentrate without having to filter out unnecessary and annoying sounds
  • To avoid additional anxiety, give  the student prior warning that they will be called upon to speak in class

This article has been updated May 2018


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