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From Nemours' KidsHealth
- ADHD Special Needs Factsheet
- Kids and Alcohol
- What Is ADHD?
- 504 Education Plans
- Autism Special Needs Factsheet
- Anxiety, Fears, and Phobias
- Anxiety Disorders Special Needs Factsheet
- Helping Kids Cope With Cliques
- Cough and Cold Medicine Abuse
- Teaching Kids Not to Bully
- Taming Tempers
- Disciplining Your Toddler
- 5 Ways to Bully-Proof Your Kid
- Helping Kids Deal With Bullies
- Individualized Education Programs (IEPs)
- Cutting Special Needs Factsheet
- Drugs: What Parents Need to Know
- Disciplining Your Child
- Marijuana: What Parents Need to Know
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Oppositional Defiant Disorder Special Needs Factsheet
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Special Needs Factsheet
- A to Z: Panic Disorder
- Eating Disorders
- How Can I Help My Child Overcome Shyness?
- My Child Is Stealing
- Separation Anxiety
- Teaching Your Child Self-Control
- Developing Your Child's Self-Esteem
- Your Child's Habits
- Taking Your Child to a Therapist
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Special Needs Factsheet
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Does Ritalin Have Side Effects?
- Connecting With Your Preteen
- Helping Teens Who Cut
- Could ADHD Be Hereditary?
- Talking to Your Child About Drugs
- Social Phobia Special Needs Factsheet
- Temper Tantrums
- Childhood Stress
- About Teen Suicide
Trusted External Resources
Autism Special Needs Factsheet
What Teachers Should Know
Autism is one of the most common developmental disabilities. People with autism, also called autism spectrum disorder (ASD), have differences in the way their brains develop and process information. As a result, they face significant communication, social, and behavior challenges.
Symptoms can be severe and interfere with everyday tasks, or they can be mild and cause only a few problems. Experts call this range of symptoms a "spectrum." Asperger syndrome and pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) are conditions that fall within the autism spectrum.
Signs of autism may include:
- trouble interacting, playing with, or relating to others
- little or brief eye contact with others
- unusual or repetitive movements, such as hand flapping, spinning, or tapping
- delays in developmental milestones or loss of already-achieved milestones
- difficulties learning in school
- playing with toys in ways that seem odd or repetitive
- low muscle tone, clumsiness, and poor spacial awareness
Although there's no cure for autism, early intervention and therapy can help kids develop skills and achieve their potential. Therapy is tailored to each child's individual needs and may include behavioral, educational, speech, and occupational therapies.
Students with autism may:
- get easily frustrated and act out in certain situations
- need to go to the school nurse for medications
- miss class time for doctor's appointments and therapies
- have trouble speaking or not speak at all
- seem insensitive or unemotional
- need extra time for class assignments and homework
- need to take tests in a separate area away from distractions
Because bullies often target students who seem "different," certain health conditions, including autism, can put kids and teens at higher risk of being bullied.
What Teachers Can Do
Many students with autism can thrive in a structured environment, so establish a routine and keep it as consistent as possible. Adhering to daily schedules and allowing ample time for transitions can help with many students' behavioral issues and frustrations.
Instructional support is often needed within the classroom setting. Students with autism learn better with pictures and demonstrations. Limit long verbal instructions and provide visual cues and written instructions, when possible. Also limit distractions and use positive rewards for positive behaviors.
Many people with autism have strong passions and deep interests. Getting to know your students' likes and dislikes can help you understand what motivates them. Students with autism can participate in most activities that other kids and teens do, so provide encouragement to participate when appropriate.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: September 26, 2016