Classroom Strategies & Interventions Help Children With Autism Achieve Academic & IEP Goals

By Samantha Finch, Parent Herald August 15, 07:19 am

One of the things that children with autism struggle with is communication. Autistic individuals often exist in a private world and are often self-absorbed, factors that contribute to their difficulties in communicating - whether it's verbal or non-verbal, with other people.

These hurdles make school and learning challenging for autistic children. Educators have devised strategies and interventions in the classroom to help these kids achieve their academic and IEP, or Individualized Education Program, goals. This is the case in Putnam County in Cookeville, Tennessee.

In Putnam County, there are around 140 pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade students diagnosed with autism, Cookeville Herald-Citizen reported. Autism affects one in 68 American children, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The disorder is more common in boys than in girls and in Caucasians than Asian-Americans and Hispanics.

Tonia Wheeler, an autism consultant in schools in Putnam County, helped develop a special three-week summer camp called Social Skills Academy for autistic children in the area. The camp is held every June and provides social skills instruction to kids with autism.

The camp also allows children to enjoy fun activities that encourage them to practice the social skills they learned not just to their peers who are also in the autism spectrum, but to kids who are normal. According to Wheeler, using peers or normal children to interact with autistic kids helps the camp build "leaders."

Why? It's because these children would one day become adults "who are going to be the people making policies for individuals with disabilities as far as insurance and availability of services," Cookeville Herald-Citizen further reported. Thanks to the camp, these kids would be aware of the struggles of children with developmental disabilities and would be inspired to improve their quality of life.

Many people believe that autistic kids are averse to engaging and interactions. In reality, they want to participate in conversations but are discouraged from doing so because they have experienced recurring failures, so they stop trying. The camp addresses this problem.

Wheeler has commended the leaders of Putnam County for their willingness to provide training and support for autistic children and their teachers. Wheeler said that Putnam County officials believe that "there is more to school success than what is measured on a state test."

In addition, children with autism tend to respond well to lessons delivered via technology, which is why some apps have been created to cater to them. Some of those apps that help autistic kids develop interaction skills are ABA Flash Cards, Choiceworks, iPrompts, NLConcepts Autism: Sort & Categorize, and Speech with Milo: Interactive Storybook.

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