How to teach synonyms to autistic students

10 tips for dealing with autistic children in everyday school life

We live in times of inclusion. Every child is picked up at their stand and has the same opportunities in our school system. Regardless of whether it is highly gifted or needs other, special support: our school system is there for everyone. So much for theory. That's what politics is telling us. She doesn't tell us much about the difficulties this poses for schools and teachers who have never learned about inclusion in their lives and who know nothing about dealing with children who need special support in any direction. Because in very few cases this is part of the course - and it certainly wasn't when I was still studying. Dealing with autistic children is new territory for many teachers.

So I came, completely unsuspecting, from my studies to my clerkship school, got my first own class in the ref and was confronted with special students overnight. Maybe a bit of background knowledge for you: I've been working at a state high school since then, a specialty school for the promotion of gifted children and, most recently, for autism.

It must also be said that in most cases I am of the Asperger's autism type. And I tell you: it's great. It means work. A lot of work. And it's so enriching at the same time. I could tell you so many anecdotes right now. Stories that touched me, that amazed me, that showed me how valuable it is to work with autistic children. Because this is what it should be about today.

But I find it much more important than stories to let you participate in my small but fine wealth of experience and to give you a few effective tips that have helped me. Sometimes anyway. Because no child is the same and what can work miracles in one child may not have any effect on the second.

I had the idea for today's post for a long time - when @ frau.daub called for people to take part in their #fraudaubsadventskalender2019, I didn't hesitate and I am allowed to contribute to their advent calendar today, on December 17th, 2019. Thank you for this great opportunity with such an important topic. Take a look at your Instagram profile - there are already many great posts!

And for those who want to deal more with the topic, a small raffle awaits at the end


10 tips for dealing with autistic children in everyday school life


Tips for yourself

Tip 1:Everyone is individual.It's no secret that we're all different. But what this can mean in the case of autistic students is underestimated by many. Often times it seems like a needle in a haystack. You try, fail, reject. And try something new. And that over and over again. And again. But I tell you: what a great feeling it is when your efforts are crowned with success! It is incomparable.


Tip 2: stay tuned. Following tip 1, a very important note: The process of finding the right path can be lengthy and often it is. And yes, sometimes it's really daunting when you try hard and realize that it doesn't work. Important: Don't give up, stay creative and don't take it personally! It has nothing to do with you and your skills as a teacher if it takes you to find the right path for you and your student.


Tip 3: get experts on board.Very few have already dealt extensively with the topic of autism. It's not an official part of the course, although it should be (from my point of view). Many schools therefore have experts on site in the form of a school social work team. If you encounter such a situation at your school, my very clear recommendation is: Establish contact, talk to the experts at your school. Get tips - maybe from colleagues who already know the student and could share their experiences with you. Conferences are often called to discuss how to proceed together with students and parents in order to see where and how best to help. Draw on the full - it benefits you and saves you time and energy that you can invest in your students!


Tip 4: read yourself in. Not always, but often, there is a disadvantage compensation that provides special regulations for your student. These can include, for example, class work, lessons or extracurricular activities and additional offers. It is important to take a look at such a disadvantage compensation. Not only because it offers you help and suggestions, provides background information and points out things that you should pay attention to in class or in dealing with others. Also because compliance with these regulations is mandatory for you. By the way, school social work is often responsible for compensating for disadvantages (see tip 3). If there is no compensation for the disadvantages, a look at the student files cannot do any harm.


Tip 5: failure is okay. That was a realization that cost me the most time and one that was not easy for me to deal with. Have you pulled out all the stops, talked to experts and tried everything imaginable? You are not always the right learning companion or the right teacher for a student - that is true in principle. Just keep doing your best, be there and stay the contact person if you want - and forgive yourself if you just don't want it to be.



Tips for teaching

In the following I will give you a few tips that I have often experienced effects. Tip 1 has probably already made it clear that this does not always have to be the case (and also does not always have to be!).


Tip 6: Use clear formulations. A lot of text and tasks that are not concrete enough when viewed from a different angle can mean the end of your student in written work. Maybe a little example. The well-known operator in mathematics Calculate actually means one thing: something should be calculated. Nice and good. It does not follow from this formulation that a calculation method must be specified and the whole thing must be formally recorded. It doesn’t matter whether you have already explained the meaning of the operator a thousand times in the classroom. This can be a real problem for autistic children, because whole class tests are sometimes solved and submitted in three to five lines because of such ambiguities. If there is a result, it is obvious that it was “calculated”.

So what can you do I actually used alternative formulations in class work and gave tasks in short sentences and with very clear instructions. It could look like this, for example: “Calculate the solutions to the tasks. Write down your complete calculation and the solution. " Later I also started to insert a kind of checklist on the first page of my work, which then served my student as a kind of reminder. I have also noted notes there such as proper writing down or that points are deducted if there are no arithmetic methods.


Tip 7: Offer alternatives for graphomotor problems. It is not so rare that autistic children also have graphomotor impairments, which can be manifested, for example, in poorly legible handwriting or problems with drawings and sketches. In that case it can be worthwhile to look for alternatives. Nothing is more stupid than when little or nothing is written in class work, because the writing is simply felt to be incredibly exhausting and the student has to concentrate hard on every single word. Nowadays, when notebooks are not uncommon, it is relatively unproblematic to use these aids. If this turns out to be the desired alternative, because the student does not always want that too, it makes sense to consult and to have the regulation anchored in the disadvantage compensation.


Tip 8: stay in touch with your parents. School is just one aspect of a student's everyday life. Parental work is an excellent means of opening up perspectives and perspectives, generating new ideas and knowing that the student is completely looked after. Who knows your student better and longer than your own parents? Parents can follow up specifically and in a different, relaxed environment and uncover problems. You can ask why certain situations were behaved in a certain way, why a proposal was rejected, or what would be a better option. And that without the student feeling pressured by teachers. So invest in parenting work!


Tip 9: Choose your place in the classroom wisely.Distraction and restless or noisy neighbors can be immensely disruptive to your student's wellbeing. The reactions to such disorders can be very different. Numerous reactions are possible, from complete isolation, e.g. in the form of crawling under the table or laying your head on the table, to aggressiveness. It is therefore important for the classroom to come to an assessment quickly as to whether a seat is suitable for your student or not. For me it was always the fastest and best way to just ask the student now and then whether he likes his seat or if he would rather sit somewhere else. I am someone who relies heavily on communication and I can only recommend it. Simply asking once doesn't cost anything


Tip 10: Be careful with body contact.What is meant nicely can backfire quite a bit. A pat on the shoulder to show appreciation, a touch on the arm when your student isolates himself - all of this is nicely meant. Often times, however, autistic children don't like touch very much - no matter how nice they are meant. So my tip: Until you don't know your student well enough, you'd better hold back. Rely on language rather than touch, no matter how small. Later, when you know each other well and you know how to assess your student and situations, you can always change that if it makes sense.



So, those were my 10 tips for you to deal with autistic children in school. They are of course not complete, not generally valid and only represent a small part of my experience. And even if that sounds a lot and for some people also frightening: I can only recommend that you approach the topic. I don't want to miss a single experience that I've had with my students. I personally find working with autistic children very enriching, although it involves a lot of additional work. Get involved in the adventure


I am aware that personal feelings are always different. So I'm interested in your experiences with autistic students. Have you had a lot of positive or negative experiences? Were you well prepared during your studies or otherwise? Or maybe you even have great tips that are promising? I'm excited for your answers

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If you want to read something into the topic, you are welcome to take part in a small Christmas raffle at this point. I started out with Melanie Matzies-Koehler Autism: Eagle Eye and Tunnel Vision 2: Tips for Teachers and found it incredibly helpful. The book gives an insight into concrete situations from everyday school life and offers suggestions for solutions and tips on what the teachers can do. It is really compact and can be read quickly and easily.

As a small Christmas present to you, I'm giving away two copies the little guide for teachers.

How to take part in the raffle:

  1. Depending on which channel you want to participate in: Leave one Like for my facebook page(Muttiheft on Facebook) and / or follow my Instagram profile (Muttiheft on Instagram)
  2. tell me in one comment here and / or under the post on Facebook and / or under my Instagram post, what you are particularly interested in about the topic. Everyone can take part once in each medium (ie a maximum of three “lots” per person).

I am very happy if you share the competition on social media - but that is not a prerequisite for participation.

The competition runs until Sunday, 12/22/2019 11:59 p.m.. I look forward to your comments and wish you the best of luck! The winners will be published on my blog, Facebook page and Instagram. The judges' decision is final and a cash payment of the prize is not possible.