Fri. Jun 14th, 2024

There are two main issues related to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in Pakistan, a) it is not recognized as a disability, and, b) there are an estimated 350,000 children with this condition in the country. It means there no special facilities for them, and the number we are talking about is quite high. Several issues hinder in including these children in mainstream education, however, two are significant, a) autistic children are considered as mentally ratardid, and b) the education system is not prepared to teach them. The students with autism go through difficulties in their communication, repetitive behaviour, and social reciprocity aspects, which eventually affects them in a classroom. The students experiencing autism need the teacher’s support to deal with the transitions in the classroom. Teachers must need to gain understanding and organize appropriate resources and adjust the environment to support these students. Teachers’ understanding to resolve the emerging concerns in collaboration with parents, students, and school administration will enhance student’s progress at school. Meanwhile, the teacher should create an environment in the class that other students develop a carrying, collegial and friendly attitude towards these children.

Every individual who experiences autism is unique, equal to other children, and has their specific needs, skills, and abilities to learn and excel. It is beneficial for teachers to attend a training program to promote inclusion in the classroom. The teacher considers blending care and empathy in the environment to tune in on the pace of the student. Furthermore, teachers need extra support from the school administration to implement an appropriate individual management plan. Teacher’s effective approach in collaboration with parents and school administration can make a difference in student’s socio-emotional stability academic achievements. 

These children often have to deal with challenges in their social reciprocity, communication, and repetitive behavior (stimming) areas that significantly impact their interactions in the environment. These three main developmental areas eventually affect these children’s learning and growth in all aspects of life. At times communication barriers may become the reason for stress, anxiety, and depression for students in classrooms. The recent research indicates that most of the individuals on the autism spectrum have other mental health issues as well in life.

The Classrooms are expected places to interact and communicate effectively with others and work. In this scenario, the confusion and lack of interest towards students with autism starts and often ends up in frustrations. Teachers often find it difficult to support a student with autism in the classroom due to their special needs and challenges in learning and familiarity with the environment. Indeed, teachers need training and resources in terms of implementing individual management plans in practice. I understand that there are not enough training opportunities available on a larger scale in the country, but there are thousands of online training available on the internet. School administration and teachers need to be careful when promoting inclusion for these students, must keep the space for adjustments of each individual appropriately to their needs. Children with autism often need to have a quiet time to overcome their sensory and emotional needs, the appropriate arrangement would be helpful to put a student at ease. Sometimes students may require one-to-one support, so teachers and school administration become aware of that to place extra staff in the classroom when needed. This is important for parents and teachers to understand the link between a low level of socio-emotional skills of the student, academic performance, and ongoing learning at school.

One of the Common observations, we have that students with autism finding difficulties in transitions and feel anxious in many situations. The students required a safe and nurturing environment to learn new ideas and excel. The teacher may need to apply a simple strategy of listening and responding to gain the trust of the student. The moment students feel being heard and valued, it’s easier for the teacher to develop an empathetic connection and heading towards the stage of working in collaboration with a student in the classroom.

What teachers can incorporate to smooth out the rough edges is, to increase understanding of a student’s needs and try to gain the trust of a student by putting effective efforts into explaining the routines. In this area, the teacher can ask a student to make a checklist of the day routines together. Teachers can organize separate boards to hang up the visual system, allows a student to take photos of necessary notes to complete homework. Also, it would be another suggestion to allow the student to use their laptop or iPad, tablets. It is seen that some of the students using their phones as a communication book, some students are benefited from specific learning apps. One can select anyone from the following apps https://www.healthline.com/health/autism/top-iphone-android-apps

These solutions provide clarity and space for students to settle in a situation and work. To execute the appropriate individual plan teacher must need school administration and parent’s support. The Parent’s collaboration with a teacher makes a huge difference in day-to-day situations and re-adjustments in student’s plans for better outcomes. The progress of students in academic studies and socio-emotional strengthening is teamwork between teacher, student, parents, and school administration.

By Dr Amina Kanwar

The author is a Counsellor and Early childhood Educator. She has been working in community services for the last 11-12 years in multiple roles of educator, playgroup co-ordinator, support coordinator, social worker and now as a counsellor. Her areas of interest are dealing with anxiety, depression, goal setting, self-confidence, children’s and adults challenging behaviours, self-care healthy lifestyle diet suggestions.

10 thoughts on “Autism Life and Teachers’ Role”
  1. Raising awareness along with giving practical tips to educate children with autism is a wonderful cause. More powers to you, stay blessed

  2. Well articulated piece of writing. It will help teachers and parents to understand this issue to save the life of such children.

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