Friday, January 21, 2011

Autism - Learning Style is Important

Autism - Learning Styles and Life/Educational Skills Attainment


Louise Page


Autism - Learning Styles and Life/Educational Skills Attainment

When ascertaining what may be the best ways to help your child with autism to learn various educational, social, behavioural and emotional (etc.) skills; gaining accurate knowledge of what may be your child’s learning style will greatly enhance and promote a higher success or achievement in your child’s learning of such skills.

Understanding their particular learning style/s is imperative too in respecting the unique individual that they are.

Imagine if someone was trying to teach you a skill in a language you didn’t understand and they expected you to get it? This would place an unnecessary stress on you in trying to understand what you were being asked to ‘get’; you would feel frustrated; possibly even feel inadequate or saddened that you can’t understand the method/s or message and misunderstood as an individual.

Also, the ‘deliverer’ of the skills ‘training’ may become frustrated or perhaps believe that the child may not be capable of being able to learn effectively, in other words the child may be perceived as being ‘low functioning’ when in fact they are not and haven’t been provided with the opportunity to learn a skill according to their particular learning style and needs. 

Yet, if the ‘deliverer’ of the skills training understood the particular learning style of the autistic child, they will then tailor the learning method of the skill to be acquired to suit that child, and thus give the greatest potential of a successful outcome.

Some individuals, for example, truly believe that pictorial methods (such as social stories for learning social skills) are the only way to go with autistic children. But some autistic children have difficulty in understanding a visual concept. Some people believe that the only way to deliver skills training is by utilizing words, when perhaps for that child a repertoire of pictures may produce the best results.

What are the predominant learning styles?

Physical (kinesthetic/tactile) – learning by touch, hands, body, movement etc.,

Aural (auditory) – learning with sounds and/or music (rhythm?),

Visual (spatial) – learning via pictures, symbols and spatial awareness,

Verbal (linguistic) – learning by the use of words, written and oral,

Social – learning via group efforts or with another,

Solitary (by self) – learning by doing things alone, by self, for self,

Logical - learning through reasoning, using systems, logic (a mathematical style)

So, depending on an individual’s, or child’s, learning style/s (which could be a combination of two or more), their receptiveness and abilities to process the information being provided in the skills ‘teaching’ or ‘training’ will depend on, e.g. the mode of the information delivery. Retention of the information will depend on many things, such as; quality of the information, appropriate skill level of the information, the teacher/deliverer of the info., the disposition of the child (e.g. health, intellectual abilities, present emotional state, environmental distractions etc.), etc..

Another dynamic which will impact on the autistic child’s learning of various skills, will be their innate temperament. Their temperament will also dictate how they will react to what they are being taught or how they interact with another; and have an effect on how they will respond to others and skill acquisition.

Their temperament will also possibly help determine how receptive they will be to learning a new skill. If, on the day of being offered a new skill, the autistic child is feeling upset by something or someone, they may not be very receptive to listening or ‘joining’ with the person trying to ‘teach’ them a new skill.

So when it comes to helping our autistic children to enjoy learning, (and achieve such successfully), about the world they live in; lessons at school or any other educational, social (etc.) situation, we need to understand how our autistic children ‘tick’, what helps them learn and what works for them.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach for autistic children. Each child is uniquely individual and many different dynamics inherent or acquired, regarding their being, will determine what are the best ways to respectfully help them to acquire or fine tune many life and educational skills and achieve such successfully.

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About the Author

Louise Page
My career involves Professional Counselling (Diploma, A.I.P.C.), majored in Child Development and Effective Parenting, Youth and Career counselling. I am also professionally trained Autism Therapist , author, Integration Aide, Literacy Tutor, children\'s story writer and professional illustrator.
The Heart and Soul of Autism