10 Strategies That Help Autistic Kids Adjust in Preschool Classrooms

Preschool classrooms are an ideal setting for young children to learn how to follow directions and routines, work on social skills, and learn pre-academic skills such as letters, numbers, shapes, and colors. Typically, autistic children do not have the same social skills as their peers. Regular classroom integration and strategies allow them to work on and improve their social skills. Here are ways to do so:Strategy for Autistic kids in Preschool

Picture schedules. Provide a picture schedule of daily activities so that the child can stay on track and prepare for transitions.

  1. Social stories. Write social stories for specific difficult situations to increase understanding of social cues.

  2. Visual aids. Label items around the classroom and school such as desks, cubbies, and stairs. You can also provide pictures that illustrate the actions for particular areas, such as sitting on the rug for story time.

  3. Concrete language. Give simple directions with clear steps that are paired with pictures and modeling.

  4. Minimal distractions. Pay attention to factors that can be distracting for autistic children, such as extreme temperature and bright lights. Minimize them whenever possible.

  5. Coaching. Coach a child during unstructured play to develop skills such as taking turns and sharing toys.

  6. One-on-one aide. Some schools provide one-on-one aides to assist children with engaging and interacting with peers and teachers during various activities.

  7. Buddy system. Pair children up with peers based on skills and levels. For example, it can be beneficial to pair a quieter, shy child with a child who is talkative and confident.

  8. Positive reinforcement. Help children stay motivated and focused with items and activities of interest such as stickers and time on the computer.

  9. Parallels at home. Whenever possible, parents and teachers should be on the same page with strategies and materials so that children have consistency between home and school.

Dorothy Hastings is the Director of First School, which are three preschool and child care centers located throughout Southern California. First School provides a hands-on approach to preschool education and child care programs that emphasizes all around child development. In addition to their intuitive academic approach, First School also focuses on developing a child’s social skills and self-confidence, which is made possible in their intimate learning atmosphere.

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