Accommodations for Students with Autism Using EdTech
In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shared its ADDM autism prevalence report. This report had shown that the prevalence of autism has risen to every 1 in 59 children. And every year, this number continues to rise.
Creating accommodations for students with autism is no longer a suggestion, but rather a necessity. However, it is difficult as autism is still lacking agreed upon research, medical suggestions, and has poor perceptions within society. But with EdTech, and a bit of compassion, you can still help students be set up for success in the classroom, whatever their skill level is.
Setting up Students with Autism for Success
Being a teacher is a selfless job. Your job is basically to think about students all day long. It is hardly a job that requires you to think about yourself.
However, thinking about yourself is necessary for student success. Particularly if you are not experienced in working with students who have special needs, impairments, or disabilities. Not only will you be unable to help them, but the lack of understanding and information can cause you stress thus affecting your teaching ability and health.
Learning about autism and what it means for the student is the very best way to set them and yourself up for success. The number of children with autism increased nearly 10% this past year. And it is made even more difficult as autism works on a spectrum. But understanding autism is just the first step.
The Autism Society defines autism, also referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), as a complex, lifelong developmental disability that typically appears during early childhood. Autism can impact a person’s social skills, communication, interpersonal skills, and self-regulation. However, what makes it a challenge is that it is a “spectrum condition” meaning that it affects everyone differently and to a varying degree.
Alongside that, people often argue about how autism is caused, if autism is a valid disability if people with autism should be treated as members of society and so many other controversies. What is important to know is not the controversies but to have an open mind and be as compassionate as you can without holding preconceived ideas towards any one student as many of these assumptions are just not true and harmful.
Being Aware of Autism
Because of the lack of knowledge, there is a lot of judgement about autism. Those who experience selective mutism may be labelled as hardheaded for example. Or students who fixate on a toy or avoid eye contact may be called a troublemaker. But none of these are true or valid assumptions to have.
Also, some students may have severe autism, where they need specialized care and help with everyday tasks while others are scientists who go on to change the world. All that really matters is that your student is happy, progressing well, and can become a productive member of society in their own ways and that you understand that happens differently for each student.
Why Students with Autism Need EdTech
Students with autism can benefit greatly from EdTech solutions. Though many schools are trying to implement inclusive classrooms, unfortunately, many of these schools still use outdated curricula that are not only unhelpful for students without autism, but detrimental for those with autism or any other more specialized needs.
EdTech is an easy way to relieve many of these challenges, supplement work, and allow for full inclusivity of students with autism regardless of how your curriculum is formulated.
Individualized Learning Using Video-Assisted Learning
Individualized learning is important for students with autism. A student with autism may excel academically, but have issues forming friendships and vice versa. Some students also have issues with scheduling whether it be a strict schedule or no schedule at all.
Video-assisted learning is a great option as it allows for supplementation within the classroom. It is easier than ever for a student to attend an inclusive class then use these videos as at-home help. They can also be provided the same lectures catered towards their learning style.
Videos are also great to use as modeling tools as well. For example, those who like consistency may have a difficult time going to multiple subjects every day thus they seem distracted in class. Showing them fun and interactive videos of suggested behavior is a great and easy way to implement small forms of applied behavior analysis (ABA).
Visual and Audio Stimulation Using Interactive Displays
Some students with autism have different responses to auditory and visual stimulations. Some students hate loud noises, while others may have a happy response caused by trills or small jingles much like when we eat a delicious sweet or hug an old friend. Some like vibrant and wacky colours while others like things simple and organized.
Using EdTech like interactive whiteboards such as the ViewBoard displays or tablets can allow you to easily customize lessons, videos, and other materials towards their needs. For example, if a child finds that your speaking voice is too loud, you can give them noise-cancelling headphones while they read live closed captions. You can also use distance learning software like ViewBoard Cast to give them duller or edited versions of materials if they have visual preferences.
Always first talk to your students, parents, or doctors to learn about their unique needs and perceptions so you can better learn what they may need as accommodations.
Overall, you cannot use one size fits all strategies for students with autism just like you cannot use it for students without. Learning about your students and their needs already put you ahead of the curve for setting up their success.
Many students with autism often feel ostracized and victimized by poor research and online discussions. Talking to and observing students themselves is necessary for their happiness and success.
Did you know that April is Autism Aware Month?
Autism Society does a lot of great work to spread awareness about autism and how they can thrive in the world. They also offer a free Autism 101 course complete with a certificate. Or, you can check out their get involved tab to learn how you can become an advocate for all matters involving autism.