How To Keep an Autistic Child Focused in the Classroom

how to keep an autistic child focused in the classroom. An autistic child is playing with friends in the classroom.
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Have you ever wondered how to keep an autistic child focused in the classroom? I know I have. I’ve seen parents and teachers grapple with this challenge in my practice. It’s like trying to keep a kite steady on a windy day — not impossible, but it requires skill and understanding. This blog post is your windbreak. We’ll explore practical strategies, backed by research and real-life experiences, that can help maintain focus and foster learning for your autistic child in the classroom. We’ll walk through everything from creating a structured environment to leveraging their interests. And who knows? You might find that elusive key to unlock your child’s potential.

Breaking Down Assignments

Ever tried to gulp down a whole apple in one go? It’s quite a task. That’s what large assignments can feel like to neurodivergent kids. But, when you slice that apple into smaller pieces, it becomes manageable. That’s why I recommend breaking down assignments into smaller, digestible tasks. This way, the task at hand seems manageable, and it’s easier for your child to stay focused. It’s like tackling a jigsaw puzzle — piece by piece until the whole picture comes together.

Presenting Tasks in Different Ways

Imagine you’re reading a book, but all the pages are the same. Boring, right? The same principle applies when teaching kids with special needs. Variety is the spice of learning. Present tasks visually, verbally, and physically. For instance, if you’re teaching about shapes, you could show a picture of a square (visual), describe it (verbal), and let them feel a physical model (physical). This multi-sensory approach can make learning more engaging and help maintain focus.

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Keeping Sentences Short

Have you ever been lost in a maze of long, winding sentences? I know I have. It’s easy to lose focus when instructions are simple enough. So, keep your sentences short and clear. Think of it as giving directions — you wouldn’t want to confuse the driver with too many turns at once, would you? The same goes for teaching. Clear, concise instructions can help kids with thinking and learning differences stay on track.

Providing Sensory Stimulation

Remember the thrill of squishing playdough between your fingers as a kid? That’s sensory stimulation in action. Activities that involve touch, sight, sound, taste, and smell can be a game-changer when it comes to helping autistic kids focus. It’s like turning the classroom into a mini theme park — there’s always something exciting to explore!

How To Keep an Autistic Child Focused in the Classroom. A teacher is helping an autistic child focus in the classroom.
Read more: Working With Autistic Children | Teachers Guide

Using Social Narratives: The Power of Storytelling

Stories can capture our attention, don’t they? That’s the power of social narratives. They can help kids understand rules or expectations in a relatable way. Think of it as a guidebook for navigating social situations. Incorporating social narratives into the classroom can help your child stay focused and understand what’s expected of them.

Providing Positive Comments

Who doesn’t love a pat on the back? Positive comments like “It’s going well” or “Well done” can go a long way in boosting your child’s confidence and focus. It’s like cheering them on in a race — every word of encouragement helps them keep going!

Providing a Movement Break: The Refresh Button

Ever felt refreshed after a short walk during a busy day? That’s the idea behind movement breaks. A short three to five-minute break can help your child recover and refocus. It’s like hitting the refresh button on a webpage — sometimes, all you need is a quick reset to get things running smoothly again.

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  • Learning New Skills: Goally’s video classes helps children learn new skills, such as: how to follow directions, how to interact with peers, and how to make a sandwich.
  • Increased Communication: Goally helps children effectively communicate wants and needs while also teaching them their first 50 words, allowing children to participate in the world around them.
  • Behavior Management: Goally helps children manage their behavior, both in the classroom and at home by rewarding positive behaviors created by parents and teachers.
  • The best part? Everyone in your child’s life (parents, teachers, grandparents) can join the care team for free, so you’re always on the same page 😉

Goally’s distraction-free kid’s tablet can be used as a therapy tool to help teach executive functionlanguage, emotional regulation, finger dexterity skills, and more!

In the grand scheme, keeping an autistic child-focused in the classroom isn’t about reinventing the wheel. It’s about understanding their unique needs and adapting your approach accordingly. Think of it as tuning an instrument — each string (or strategy) plays a crucial role in creating a harmonious melody. So, break down assignments, present tasks in different ways, keep your sentences short, provide sensory stimulation, use social narratives, offer positive comments, and don’t forget those refreshing movement breaks. Remember, every child is different, and what works for one might not work for another. But with patience, understanding, and creativity, you can create a learning environment where your child can thrive.


FAQ’s About How to Keep an Autistic Child Focused in the Classroom

What are some strategies to keep an autistic child focused in the classroom?
Strategies include breaking down assignments, presenting tasks in different ways, keeping sentences short, providing sensory stimulation, using social narratives, offering positive comments, and providing movement breaks.

How can breaking down assignments help an autistic child focus?
Breaking down assignments into smaller tasks makes the work seem less daunting and more manageable, helping the child maintain focus.

Why is presenting tasks in different ways beneficial for autistic children?
Presenting tasks visually, verbally, and physically caters to different learning styles, making learning more engaging and helping maintain focus.

How does sensory stimulation help autistic children focus in the classroom?
Sensory stimulation activities that involve touch, sight, sound, taste, and smell can engage the child's attention and help them focus on the task at hand.

What is the role of social narratives in helping autistic children focus?
Social narratives help kids understand rules or expectations in a relatable way, aiding in focus and understanding of what's expected of them.

This post was originally posted on 04/12/2023. It was updated on 02/12/2024.

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