April is Autism Awareness Month, and with so many children continuing their schooling at home due to COVID-19, we’re sharing our top tips for homeschooling your child with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).
1. Stay on task
Children with ASD often respond very well to a fixed timetable for tasks. You can also add getting dressed, meals, toilet time, play, and breaks on a child’s schedule so that they can see their day laid out on a schedule. When completing an activity, you can help the child gain a sense of achievement and completion by adding a check next to the visual or by “posting” the visual in a box.
2. Give children choices
When using a visual timetable at home, we can encourage children to be independent and flexible by giving them a choice in activities. These choices can be presented on the timetable just like any other task, and they can be functional or reward activities. Having a choice visual can also apply to sensory breaks, story/song choices, or more specific choices within activities (e.g. “Do you want to use crayons or textas?”)
3. Use a First/Then board
Sometimes children with ASD need their visual schedule to be broken down further in order for them to gain motivation to complete adult-directed activities. We can do this by using a First/Then board using a motivating toy or activity for the “Then” visual, and an adult-directed or functional task as the “First” visual. We can expand upon this by using a First/Then/Then board, with the last activity always being the most motivating for the child. Sometimes starting with a preferred/easier task may also be helpful.
4. Take a Break
Taking breaks regular breaks is crucial for kids with autism and should be done often during your homeschool routine. These breaks can be movement breaks, sensory breaks, quiet time breaks, or whatever your child needs to regulate themselves. A break is intended to provide self-regulation opportunities that maximise learning time.