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In-Depth exploration-autism

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Elementary Education
EDEE 260
Paul Kettner

In-Depth Exploration of a Course Topic:Autism Vanessa McKellar, 260481915 EDEE 260: Reading Methods Dr. Paul Kettner March 19 , 2014 Autism, an intellectual condition that may be diagnosed in children at a very young age, can greatly effect the child’s learning abilities within the classroom. While many autistic children may excel in certain areas, such as arts or mathematics, a large issue for autistic children is their ability to communicate with others, whether that be in spoken, written or in gestures.Aparticularly difficult area for teachers to begin teaching autistic children is in reading, as autistic children generally have a very hard time understanding hidden meanings and take things literally, and may have confusion on how to decode texts without visuals to give clues. Below, you will find several tips on how to facilitate the teaching, as well as learning, of reading to autistic children in the classroom. Firstly, it is important to note that a great amount of autistic children are integrated into regular classrooms, which has been increasing in numbers each year (but greatly depends on the type of school). Inclusion has been an important factor in an autistic child’s learning, as their primary learning greatly depends on learning through observing their peers (Garfinkle & Schwartz, 2002). Observational learning allows for autistic children to learn routines, behaviours, appropriate language, and even self-help and safety skills (Garfinkle & Schwartz, 2002). I believe that it is extremely important for autistic children to be integrated into regular classrooms, as it will surely benefit them in several aspects and set them up for learning. This does however pose difficulties for teachers who would like to teach and engage all of their students, including these autistic children, who may need different strategies than other students. This is where I have found helpful strategies and suggestions that can be brought forth to any classroom, including my own. After reading the “Reading Horizons” website, I was left with concrete strategies and tips on how to approach teaching autistic children how to read. It is very well explained that autistic children learn differently than most children, although the may have similarities as well, but teachers must adapt to the student, not the student adapting to the teacher. It is also extremely important for teachers to be aware of the fact that these students tend to be visual learners, and should adapt to this type of learning. For example, teachers can provide autistic children, or other visual learners, with visual instructions rather than wordy explanations. The students may easily get frustrated with worded instructions before even starting a task, and will not be motivated to complete the task. Therefore, providing them with visual cues can often solve this problem. Teachers may also pair their visual cues to keywords, which would have the students associate the word to the picture, and will eventually need less visual cues. Next, some autistic students begin to learn reading through phonics, while others learn through whole word recognition. It is important for teachers to know what type of learner(s) they have in their classroom. Phonics is often a base-start for teachers, and will often be taught to the whole class. Whole-word teaching can be easily taught with flashcards, picture books and acting out words, such as showing the word jump and then modelling the word by actually jumping. This will really tap into the student’s visual learning and they will be more likely to retain the information. Also, autistic students are very often skilled, and enjoy, using the computer. This can be tied into a teacher’s lesson by having students play matching games on the computer or having them type their work instead of handwriting, which is frequently a frustration among autistic children as the struggle with motor skills. Another great resource that has given me essential tips on how to teach autistic children to read, is “Hammer’s Pro Portfolio”, where typical characteristics of students with learning disabilities are cleared explained and how to teach them according to these character
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