The cases of ASD are on the rise, there is a dire need to create awareness amongst parents and educators and other stakeholders. Schools can play a critical role in creating this awareness as often the child’s behavioural symptoms are identified in the early years in school.
Ms Parveen Shaikh, Principal, The Somaiya School shares tips on how schools should work to make the inclusion of ASD child successful.
Some steps schools should take:
- Plan Autism specific training -for all the staff members who come in contact with the child. This should certainly include both curricular and co-curricular teachers.
- Be precise and Specific- A child with ASD does not instinctively know what to do or where to go etc. e.g. “Go to page 5 and solve sum no.1”.
- Autistic children avoid chaos, noise, bright lights, touch, disorder, being looked at, etc. Create a predictable daily routine. Prepare the child for any anticipated change in the routine. Try and create a classroom atmosphere that is not too heavy on the child’s already overloaded senses. Understand the child’s need to cover his ears in a noisy classroom or his refusal to touch certain textures or materials.
- Teach tolerance and sensitivity amongst peers for those who are different. Peers need to be given the right amount of information to create understanding and not to label the child.
- The School Leadership sets the tone for inclusion. The school leadership should make ‘inclusion’ and tolerance towards those who are different, a vital part of the school philosophy. They should lead by example, and a child with autism should participate in the daily rhythm of the school.
- Be the emotionally intelligent teacher that every child needs. A teacher, who upgrades her understanding about ADS, believes in him and does not ever give up on him.
- Communicate with parents. Parenting a child with ASD can be a lonely journey. The schools can keep the two-way communication channel to understand and support the child at home and in school. Help the parent to read the right literature and sites. If you have more children with ASD, create a network and support group for parents where they could share their anxieties and learn from each other.
- Provide the necessary exemptions that a child is eligible to. The child is given some subject exemptions, verbal feedback is taken during exams and extra writing time is provided during examinations.