2020 has been a challenging year, and one of the highest hurdles for parents helping their children meet the demands of distance learning. Distance learning can be a struggle for any family, but if your child has autism spectrum disorder (ASD) it can be even more overwhelming. Don’t worry, you’ve got this! And we’ve got some tips to help you.
Create a routine. Your school may post a schedule but if not, it’s an important thing for you to do for your student. Children with ASD do best with a structured routine because knowing what comes next can be calming. Create a set start and end time, do the same subjects in the same order, every day. Spend the same amount of time on each subject, with breaks in between classes, and post the schedule near the child’s workspace.
Diminish distractions. Using the same distraction-free learning area every day will help your child to focus. Try to find a learning area that’s separate from pets and siblings; remove distractions. Make sure all learning materials are close at hand and consider headphones to help improve focus.
Accommodate sensory needs. At school, kids with ASD often get help managing sensory issues, using things like quiet breaks, active time, or sensory stimulation. Implement these practices at home, utilizing tools like fidget toys and bouncy chairs to help your child cope. Don’t have a bouncy chair? A stack of pillows makes a good substitute.
Make the schedule visual. Transitions can be hard for kids with ASD, but visual cues can make them easier. Take photos that represent each class and break, creating a visual schedule so your child can clearly see what comes next.
Incorporate learning into everyday life. This is important for all kids, but especially children with ASD. Use items around the house to practice skills like matching, stacking, and following directions. The more advanced your learner, the more you can assign chores that will teach vital life skills.
Do some learning of your own. You have a distinct advantage: you know your child better than anyone else. If you don’t have training in special education, though, it may be a good time to get some. Look for parent training resources from places like The UC Davis MIND Institute or the Autism Research Institute.
Remember that you can do this. Distance learning is a challenge, but you’re used to overcoming challenges! Take advantage of resources available to you, lean on your community of support, and don’t underestimate your own abilities.
If your child has been diagnosed with ASD, The Stepping Stones Group is here to offer support, keeping you informed of opportunities for fun with your kids and providing important support services. Founded in 2006, we provide behavioral and psychological services to people with ASD and related disorders in a nurturing environment that offers support for the entire family. You can contact us through our website or by calling 737.267.9847.