How to Teach an Autistic Student

Have you ever met someone who was autistic? What did you notice about him or her? Most autistic children have trouble socially, focusing, and communicating. There are some major things you have to remember while working with or simply communicating with an autistic child.


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    Treat the person like an intelligent, competent individual.[1] Do not talk to an autistic teenager like a 2-year-old; talk to the person like you are talking to one of your friends. Treat autistic children with the same dignity and respect with which you treat their peers. You may need to repeat yourself more often, but there is no need for baby talk.
    • Be sure to use a calm, reassuring tone and be patient with the student rather than being harsh. If you are patient and maintain your composure, the autistic student will likely respect you more.
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    Avoid using sarcasm, idioms, and metaphors. Depending on their experience, this can be very confusing to autistic people. Only start introducing these once you know the individual's skill level when it comes to figurative language.
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    Make instructions clear and specific. Many autistic students benefit from receiving written instructions, since written words are easier to process. The student may ask for clarification.
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    Be patient. This is the most important rule when being with autistic students. Autistic students face many barriers that most people cannot even imagine. Always assume that the student is trying as hard as they can.[2] Allow them to progress at their own pace, and congratulate them as they do well.
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    Create a positive and respectful environment. Make it clear that you value your students and are proud of their progress. When difficulties arise, talk them out with the struggling individual and brainstorm solutions together. This communicates that you're on their side, and they can trust you to help them meet their goals.
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    Be consistent. Don't hold your autistic students to higher standards than your neurotypical students, or make them follow rules that neurotypical students can get away with breaking. Similarly, don't assume that an autistic student is naturally more aggressive or defiant than neurotypical students are. This is false.
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    Respect your student's differences.[3] If the student uses alternative communication, don't pressure or coerce them into trying to speak. If the student stims (e.g. through repetitive movements), assume that the stimming is important to their coping and learning skills. Don't focus your energy on making the child pretend to be normal, because this is a waste of both your time. Instead, value your student's differences and make it clear that you accept them for who they are.
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    Have fun. Enjoy every moment you have with them. These kids have the biggest hearts and they will you impact you forever. Have fun with them and laugh a lot because it will show them that you are having fun just like them!


  • The Golden Rule
  • Laugh a lot.
  • Patience.
  • Consistency.
  • Be their friend


  • They will change your life.
  • Never push an autistic student beyond their limits. If they say no (through words or body language), stop. Autistic people may melt down, shut down, panic, lash out, lose all trust in adults, or develop PTSD from their pleas being ignored. Don't push. If a student appears overwhelmed, give them some quiet time alone with books or toys until they are able to cope with the world again.

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Categories: Coaching Autistic People | Teaching Students with Special Needs