Teaching Materials for Autism Students

Picture Cues

Teachers of autistic students often use pictures or flash cards of people or common items (girl, boy, fireman, policeman, ball or bicycle). If a teacher has two sets of the same pictures, he can play matching games with the student, increasing object identification skills. He will also use the pictures to elicit verbal identification. In this instance, the picture must show just one item. If the teacher uses a photograph of a car with a tree in the background, the tree might distract the student from naming the car.

Parents or caretakers of autistic students often pin these pictures to a bulletin board in their home to help them identify their needs and wants if they cannot specifically verbalize such.

Doll Houses with Accessories

Doll houses with accessories, such as people, furniture, appliances and utensils, also help autistic students identify with everyday life. Where pictures enhance people and object identification, a doll house with accessories helps the student grasp the concept of human relationships and functionality of objects. Relationships include that between husband and wife, father and son, mother and daughter, and brother and sister. The methodology also reinforces that a chair is for sitting, a bed is for sleeping and a fork is for eating.

DVDs and Software

DVDs and software can also help autistic students with object identification and functionality. The difference is interaction with a person and a computer. DVDs and software also have the propensity to bring the education to the level of such subjects as math.

Many DVDs and software require the student to imitate as with other methods of education. And, the program might ask the student to have objects such as blocks within reach. With blocks, DVDs and software could ask the student to mimic counting and stacking. With stacking, the student also receives occupational therapy.

A DVD or software can also visually bring the autistic student through a typical day at school or a typical visit to a doctor. The process also reinforces auditory processing, or what happens when the brain recognizes and interprets sounds. Autistic children often suffer from auditory processing disorder, which means this process is in someway compromised.

Timers and Clocks

An autistic student often has emotional difficulty transitioning from one activity to another. Timers and clocks help students distinguish the end of one activity and the beginning of another, thereby easing the transition.

Sensory Integration Disorder

Many autistic students have sensory integration disorder; they are hypersensitive to everyday sensations and are therefore uncomfortable or irritated. A common cause of discomfort for those with sensory integration disorder is a tag on a shirt. Encouraging an autistic student to play with sand, uncooked rice or pasta or shaving cream helps to desensitize her to different sensations. Different methodologies prove effective in the education of autistic students. Most suggest that science is an effective method to teach autistic students, including speech and language; academia; and life skills. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), the use of behavior analytic methods and research findings to change socially important behaviors, is a common example. This science enforces the idea that autistic children will learn via repetition and reward.

Some use a granular approach to this methodology by dissecting tasks into their smallest parts. To engage in conversation, for instance, the teacher or caretaker might first work on eye contact. If the child imitates the teacher upon verbal or physical command, the child will be rewarded with a piece of candy or anything relating to that child's set of special interests. (Children with autism may have special interests or obsessions with subjects, such as the weather or sports statistics.)

Several visual tangible materials are used in augmenting the education of autistic students.