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Autism autism

Published on November 10th, 2013 | by Mohammed Mominor Rahman | Views: 166163

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Awareness & How to Teach Autistic Children – by Dr Uthman Lateef and Mominur Rahman

In the last three decades there has been a gradual increase in the number of children being diagnosed with autism. It is unclear if this has been due to actual increases in the percentage of children being born with some form of autism or if it is because of changes in how autism is diagnosed. Currently, there are 1-2 children out of a thousand being diagnosed with autism worldwide.

It is difficult to give a simple definition of autism as people who are autistic are very different from each other. Some autistic people may not be able to speak, communicating with pictures and signs, while other autistic people will demonstrate genius like abilities within a narrow field e.g. maths, art or music.

This figure is higher in the west; in the United Kingdom 10 out of a 1000 children are autistic while in the United States of America, 11 out of a 1000 children are diagnosed autistic. The causes of autism are yet unclear, although it is known that genes are a factor and that autism can be inherited. Many other causes are being investigated without clear evidences yet being found; these include environmental pollution, parental drug taking (including cigarettes and alcohol) and childhood vaccinations. Recent hysteria about autism being linked to the MMR vaccination has been mostly discredited.

So what exactly is autism? It is difficult to give a simple definition of autism as people who are autistic are very different from each other. Some autistic people may not be able to speak, communicating with pictures and signs, while other autistic people will demonstrate genius like abilities within a narrow field e.g. maths, art or music. In general, true autism develops early on, in the first eight weeks of pregnancy and is identified within the first three years of a child’s life. Three other conditions are often referred to by the same word, but are quite different; these are Asperger’s Syndrome, Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and PDD-NOS. Quite often, autistic children also have other learning disabilities such as dyslexia at the same time. There is no known cure, the condition lasts for the whole of a person’s life and develops with time. You cannot tell someone is autistic by looking at them; the condition is diagnosed by looking at how a person behaves, particularly how they interact with other people. Autistic people find it difficult to make friends and understand and express emotions. They also do not like change, have a narrower range of interests, activities and behaviours than the general population and are more likely to be visual learners.

In some ways teaching, autistic children is similar to teaching any other children, only some teaching techniques become more important than usual. Some autistic children have above average memory abilities so it may be possible for them to learn arabic alphabet and memorise important chapters. Paying careful attention to the following principles will make it easier for an autistic child to learn:

  1. 1.Stick to a regular pattern of activities; all children like routine but this is more important with autistic children as they are resistant to change.
  2. 2.Keep a tidy learning area; all children are distracted by clutter, but autistic children can be over-stimulated very easily, so keep any visual items that are unrelated to the current learning task out of the way.
  3. 3.Give regular breaks; this is good for all learners. Every twenty minutes, change the activity or incorporate a short break. With autistic children, some may not like breaks as often, especially if it is their favourite activity, others will refuse to do more than a few different activities. It is very important not to push an autistic child when he/she is stressed, frustrated or tired. Allow them to take a break to relax before continuing, rather than push them to finish the task before taking a break even if there is only a little bit left.
  4. 4.Find out what is the preferred learning style of the child. People in general display different learning styles, but this is accentuated in autistic children. Have activities that will stimulate more than one sense and work out which sense the child finds easier to learn with. Most autistic children are visual learners, but not all. It is important that you find out which style or combination of styles each particular child finds easiest to learn by.

Remember that each autistic child is different from other autistic children. You need to find out what each particular child can and cannot do, be patient, give plenty of praise when the child does the right thing and find his/her strength. Some autistic people display above average memory and concentration and can excel in certain activities, especially if it is their favourite subject.

Mohammed Mominur Rahman
Senior Tutor and Education Consultant.

Mohammed has a B.Sc. in Psychology and Management from Aston University. He has been teaching in various organisations for over 20 years and has worked with people with learning disabilities and amnesia. Currently he teaches children from KS2 to KS5. Some of his students are autistic and learn quranread quran online and face to face with him.

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Mohammed Mominor Rahman


Senior Tutor & Educational Consultant



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