Distance Learning Tips for Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
by Neerja Anand
On 02 August, 2021
The ongoing pandemic is playing havoc in our lives in myriad ways. With educational institutions downing shutters to prevent the rapid spread of various strains of the virus, it is proving a challenge for parents and children to negotiate the intricacies of distance / remote learning via tech tools. For the families and parents of children with special needs (such as those on the Autism spectrum), it is particularly proving to be stressful. To help parents reduce (if not overcome) challenges and stress, we have compiled some helpful tips. Let's read about them below.
Meet in - person / virtually with the relevant school authorities to discuss the various options available. The options could range from virtual classrooms, learning on formulating your own independent schedule, offline teaching that does not require the assistance of any tech gadgets. Based on the options available, you can decide the route most appropriate for your family as a whole and the child in particular.
Communication with the main teacher on a regular basis (if not a daily basis). Distance learning is new and challenging for all. Keep open communication with the teachers on what is working and what isn’t. Based on your feedback, they can suggest changes and modifications to improve learning outcome.
Continue your weekday routine at home. Try and follow the established routine that was followed during typical school days. They may not be going to school physically, but they can do everything else that entails the routine is maintained, and the days run smoother.
Create a learning environment at home. For children to do well, it is important that they have a dedicated space for all school / learning related activities that can be carried out with minimal distractions. This "educational space" should include all necessary materials, such as Wi-Fi, paper, books pens/pencils, crayons/markers, etc. If the school / teacher have not already circulated the list of specific materials needed for distance learning, please get in touch with the school to ensure your child is prepared. Keep snacks and nourishing beverages at hand.
Use the support of visual & auditory aids. Some children benefit from visual and auditory aids such as visual schedules, to-do lists, First-Then boards, and timers. Many children benefit from seeing images that displays their schedule or even a particular task. Some students may need a simpler format to help them comprehend the day ahead.
Positive reinforcement. Recognize what motivates your child and use that to reward the child for the scheduled time for each school period / task or appropriate behavior during that time.
Create planned breaks. Before the child engages in maladaptive behaviors because they are feeling restless, bored or face difficulties in a task, give them small breaks from the "school" area at home. Just so that they can get a mental break before diving back in.