By: Amanda Rinehart 

Teacher in a Classroom with a Computer

I know that the Coronavirus is on everyone’s mind right now. You may be thinking, “How am I supposed to continue to make sure my students receive the necessary content, when I can’t come in contact with them?”. Well, this blog will help you navigate distance learning during the Coronavirus Pandemic for your autistic students.  

Student with head on desk

Imagine how the students who require routine and structure may be spinning out right now. The structure and routine you have been working so hard to reinforce is now muddied. Hold tight…I will help you.

Routine

In the wake of COVID 19, you’re likely having to deliver your lessons and activities via e-learning platforms. How are you accommodating for your learners on the autism spectrum? 

 

Although students’ daily routine is going to look different, it is critical for autistic students to find their new normal as quickly as possible. You can implement the following safe-guards to increase the opportunity for success.

 

One way to support your learners on the autism spectrum, is to create a visual schedule that they can physically utilize at home. If you are not going to interact with your students again for a few weeks, you could create the visual schedule and then send it via email to parents.

Dad placing schedule on refrigerator

Within the folders of the e-learning system your school is using, you can create a specific folder with visual aides that students can use while learning from home. A helpful website is www.venngage.com. There are free options to choose from. 

Personalization

As I have mentioned, routine for students on the autism spectrum is critical for success. The most important part of their daily routine has been YOU! You are the one who they look to to make them feel safe and prepared.

In this time of self isolation, you could post a personalized video for your autistic students, addressing them personally. In your video, you should give them the individualized guidance you would usually provide in person. For example, if you use a specific phrase to motivate your autistic student every day, you should include that phrase in your video. “John, today is your day to learn how to….” . If your student relies on you to start his/her day with a high five, you should give the student a virtual high five. The goal is to create an environment as close to their norm, as virtually possible. 

Thank you Teacher

Don’t Forget Parents

In your communication with the parents of your students on the autism spectrum, it is important for you to recognize how these changes are going to potentially impact their children. By creating personalized provisions, you are not only greatly improving your students’ chances of success, you are solidifying the relationship between yourself, the student and parent, which is crucial for success in all learning environments.  

 

In conclusion, this time of fear of the unknown and change is difficult for typical students. Autistic students are likely struggling twice as much. Implementing these efforts to teach students with autism through distance learning will make the change as painless as possible, helping on both academic and personal levels. 

To read more about supporting students on the autism spectrum, click here.