Teaching a large group of children is not an easy task, nor is it for the faint of heart. So those who teach are incredibly brave, strong, and dedicated individuals.
However, not all teachers are familiar with autism—at least not in the way autism parents are. Just a little guidance, explanation, and understanding can go a long way in helping them teach, care for, and give wings to your child. Here are ten things you may have wished you could say to your child’s teacher, but just didn’t know how.
10. “Everyone with autism is different, and that includes my child.”
Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning there’s a wide variety of symptom expression and symptom severity. Even if you have had kids with autism in your classes before, recognize that mine might be totally different.
9. “Don’t mistake my explanation of my child’s behavior as an excuse.”
Behavior is essentially communication, so whether my child does something you approve of or disapprove of, they’re probably trying to say something. Let me explain what certain behaviors might mean. That doesn’t mean I’m condoning or excusing my child’s negative behavior; I’m trying to help you understand my child better so you can target the underlying issue.
8. “Give my child direct commands rather than veiled hints.”
People with autism struggle to understand indirect language or commands. “You didn’t put away your books” is a statement that means nothing to my child; “Put away your books, please” communicates exactly what you want them to do.
In the same way, if you ask my child, “Would you like to read the next paragraph in the book?” don’t be surprised or upset if they interpret that question literally and say no! Always be direct.
7. “Look for sensory issues behind a behavior you don’t understand.”
Sensory issues are often a huge part of life with autism, so when my child starts to scream, act aggressively, or get distracted, look at what’s going on in the surroundings. Are the lights too bright? Is the room too noisy? Are they so overwhelmed by what’s going on that they feel threatened? Adjusting the environment could help correct certain behaviors, especially ones that may be harmful to my child or other students.
6. “Punishing my child won’t help, but rewarding them for positive behavior will.”
My child might get anxious and freeze up if they’re afraid of being punished, but if given a reward for something they did well, they might be inspired to work hard and keep going!
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A. Stout received a Bachelor of Arts in Writing through Grand Valley State University, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2015. In addition to being a passionate autism advocate, she is a member of various fandoms, a study abroad alumna, and an animal lover. She dreams of publishing novels and traveling all over the world someday.