We have had over ten years experience with tutoring and teaching our daughter with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Below is some of the Teaching Aids we used that we think were the most successful in her development and learning. These methods can be used with any child with or without an Autism Spectrum Disorder, Pervasive Development Disorder or Special Needs.
Teaching Aid 1 – Setting up a Therapy Room
In the beginning what got us going was the SON RISE program. Liz went to America to the Option Institute and did a two week course on how to cope with a child with Autism, methods for working with and tutoring a child with Autism and how to set up a therapy room for a tutoring a child with Autism and or Special Needs.
The course is not just for Parents of children with Autism, but also for children with Learning Difficulties, Pervasive Development Disorder (PDD) and children with Special Needs in general. The course also focusses a great deal on how to deal on an emotional level with the fact that your child has an intellectual disability, and there is ongoing support if you so wish.
So on Liz’s arrival back home we set up a therapy room. We used a spare bedroom and painted it in bright colours. We set it up with shelves and storage drawers, play equipment, a computer and printer, a suitable child’s height table and chairs for table top work and a sturdy floor covering. The basic idea was to have a room the child can identify with as a learning and fun area only, somewhere that they will in time know that when they are in there it is time to learn.
Teaching Aid 2 – Getting Through to a Child with Autism
One of the very useful things Liz learned from the SON RISE program was a method to work with Autistic children, a way to get through to them and that was to get yourself to their level. Get down on the floor and rock with them, spin objects like they do, repeat the sounds they make, enter their world. This is how we got Isy to acknowledge us, by doing just that! She began to pay attention when we entered her world and slowly we began to influence her behaviour and satisfy her thirst for learning.
Most children with or without Autism Spectrum Disorders, Pervasive Development Disorders, Learning Difficulties or Special Needs enjoy learning, they have a thirst for knowledge, it is just a matter of finding how to get through to them and making the learning fun for them and yourself.
Teaching Aid 3 – Applied Behaviour Analysis and Discrete Trial Teaching
The next step for us was getting into Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) and Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT). Liz also seeked out and trained therapists, including Uni students to work with Isy intensively and her progress was astounding. Isy loved to be in her therapy room learning. Each session would run for 2 hours, and she would get up to three sessions a day up to six days a week.
In a relatively short time Isy started to learn to count, spell her name, read books, ask for things, say yes and no, imaginative play, identify genders, moods, countless items, and much more. In a nutshell she began to communicate and be aware of her surroundings, we were over the moon! This stuff really works.
Teaching Aid 4 – Custom made Teaching Aids and IT Computer based Aids
After a while Liz was accumulating quite a range of Autism Spectrum Disorder related Teaching Aids, which could also be used with children with Special Needs, resources such as – picture cards, shapes, puzzles, colour cards, sizes cards, picture books, gender cards, etc. I also started to make up some IT or Computer based training aids such as Interactive Flash Cards with sound, and a personalised interactive Toilet Training Program. Around this time I was working in Antarctica and I would send Isy via the internet interactive stories of her favourite characters (Snowy and Humphrey) in Antarctica, this really went a long way in teaching her to read, she would thrash the stories!
Teaching Aid 5 – Things Children Love Doing
Another great teaching aid which I used to teach Isy language was her trampoline. She used to love jumping on the trampoline and even more so when I joined her, we would play silly games that required her to count or say short sentences. I would point up to the sky and get her to say short sentences like “touch the clouds in the sky” or “your turn” and “my turn” I would purposely lie on the trampoline until she would ask me to “get up dad” and “lets jump dad”. Using a favourite activity to teach children is a very powerful teaching aid
Those early days on the trampoline where Isy was starting to learn to talk and we would jump laugh and sometimes just lie and look at the birds in the sky were without a doubt some of the best and most memorable days of my life.
These are some of the Autism Spectrum Disorder Teaching Aids we have found that really worked for us and our Daughter Isy. There are other factors involved in her progress as well such as Bio-Medical supplements, Physical activities such as Swimming and Horse riding, Music and Sound Therapy and what we believe to be a safe secure and fun home environment for all of us.
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