Supporting the individual with autism

Benefits of empowering and supporting the participation of children and young people with autism

Empowerment allows children and young people with autism to form and voice their views and opinions about the decisions that affect them.

Empowering the child or young person with autism

Within Northern Ireland, the prevalence rate for those with autism has been found to be 2·3% in 2015/16, Publication of ‘The Prevalence of Autism (including Aspergers Syndrome) in School Age Children in Northern Ireland 2016’ Date published: 16 June 2016.

Empowerment

Many see true empowerment in education coming from the attainment, effective use and development of knowledge rather than the simple transmission of information.

How autism affects control and regulation

Children and young people with autism can experience challenges with focusing, paying attention, transitioning, organisation and planning, working memory, time management, emotional regulation, and control Using these higher-level skills is required when undertaking everyday daily tasks, for example, when working with others, planning daily routines and in moving from one place or activity to another.

How autism affects seeing the 'big picture’, Difficulties with Central Coherence

Individuals with autism may have difficulty seeing the ‘bigger picture’.

How autism affects understanding

Some children and young people with autism may find it difficult to see things from other people’s point of view.

How autism can affect attention and interaction

Children and young people with autism may find it challenging to interpret and understand their environment and others within their environment.

How can we make Modifications?

To help children and young people learn it is important to adapt the environment.

Importance of flexibility

A key aspect of the diagnosis of autism is the presence of restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behaviour.

Literal understanding

A common characteristic amongst children and young people with autism is the difficulty in understanding abstract concepts.

Practical tips: reviewing the environment

Observe Choose a time of day you find challenging for the child you are working with who has autism Create an observation sheet and make notes about what the child is doing, how they respond to others in the environment, what they seem to like or dislike etc.

Repeating instructions

It is important to avoid giving child or young person with autism complex verbal directions, information and discussion.

Self-advocacy

As outlined by Stephen Shore (2006), whenever possible, it is important to teach self-advocacy and negotiation skills to children and young people with autism.

Teaching empathy and reciprocity

Empathy Empathy is a socially relevant skill for all of us but must be taught specifically to children and young people with autism because it enhances their ability to engage in other critical prosocial behaviours and activities.