Autism Awareness & Tips

Along with April 2nd being World Autism Awareness Day, the U.S. is using the whole month of April as Autism Awareness Month to educate the public about issues within the autistic community. There has been a huge increase in the number of children diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) the past several years. For whatever reasons this has happened, there are certain things that we as teachers &/or parents can do to help.

I am still learning, but here are a few things I have learned:

  • Give commands in short phrases such as, “Mouth quiet, hands down, stop feet,” etc.
  • Use music to help in learning reading skills. Use the Leapfrog: Letter Factory video to help teach letter sounds. Students may be singing the songs for different letters at various times during the day. They love this video!
  • Use music to help in learning math skills. Use the Leapfrog: Math Adventure to the Moon to teach counting skills, patterns, skip counting, sorting, and problem solving. Again, students love this video!
  • WordWorld is an awesome program on PBS for children, even very young children, to learn their alphabet letters, sounds, and how to blend words together. I highly recommend WordWorld for ages one and up.  They also have DVDs available on Amazon.
  • is an excellent, free site to use at home or in a school setting. Their eBooks capture children’s attention, as well as the video and games on their site. They also have free printables.
  • is another excellent free site for learning alphabet letters, sounds, and learning to read. I highly recommend this site also that teaches children to read with phonics.
  • Use music for transitional times. Sing, “Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere. Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere.”
  • Some students need a light compression such as gently squeezing each of their fingers or maybe sitting behind them and placing your hands gently on their stomach, gently massaging when they start to get upset.
  • Some students might need “brushing” on their arms with a soft vinyl fingernail brush to help calm them down.
  • Students with autism are affected by schedule changes so plan ahead and try to foresee any problems and make adjustments where possible.
  • If you have access to a computer, the Edmark Reading Program has been successful with students. However, this has to be purchased in order to use it and it’s pricey. We used the first edition and had success with it, however, now they have come out with the second edition which I have not used.
  • For those who are visual thinkers, make flashcards with the vocabulary word and a picture. It must have a picture. Flashcards can be purchased at Dollar Tree, the dollar section at Target, etc., that have the word and picture on each card. Then make flashcards with just the words to use after they have learned the words with the picture flashcards.
  • Use “Instant Learning Centers” and lots of various manipulatives for hands-on learning.

Here are some sites about autism: