ASD, Learning, & Development
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects a broad range of functions and poses unique challenges. Emerging research has given valuable insight into the ways autism affects learning and development. These studies, hopefully, will improve how caregivers, educators, and physicians treat ASD.
However, even with more insight, instances still occur where parents and teachers struggle to meet the child’s needs.
Through no fault of their own, caregivers and educators may not have the necessary resources. Learning more about ASD and its effects on learning and development will improve the education and overall well-being of those who have it.
How ASD Affects Development
Autism presents different challenges at each stage of development, even into the teenage years.
Typically, children with ASD develop more slowly than others their age, and may not learn skills (e.g., speaking) in the same order.
One of the most common examples of how autism affects development is speech. Usually, young children begin to speak a lot around 12 months old.
However, a child with ASD may talk but use very few words. This child may not speak more until she is about three years old. And she may only use concise phrases.
Or, a child may correctly name body parts. But when looking at a photo, is unable to do so.
Troubles With Focus And Interactions
Those with ASD also face difficulties with attention and interacting with others.
For instance, he may not react when his name is called. He may not make eye contact, use gestures, or show emotional displays.
He may also struggle with joint attention. Joint attention helps children progress with communication and language. Children with autism don’t focus like others their age. As a result, they don’t always pick up these crucial skills.
For example, a child and her mother might be reading a book together. The child’s mother points at a cat, explaining the association between the picture and the word.
The child, though, might be looking at something different and doesn’t catch the meaning. When this happens repeatedly, it can cause the child to fall behind developmentally.
Joint attention impacts other skills that children learn at a young age. These may include taking turns, understanding facial expressions, or maintaining a conversation.
Understanding Others’ Perspectives
Another vital issue for those with ASD is understanding other peoples’ perspectives, which typically develops between 3-5.
However, those with autism can take much longer to develop this crucial social skill. It can cause many issues for them socially as they may not understand that those around them have different beliefs than themselves.
A child might also struggle with anticipating others’ behaviors or fail to see how their actions impact other people. She might not grasp why someone else becomes upset.
This lack of understanding can lead to uncooperative behavior with those around her. In turn, that can lead to feelings of loneliness.
Similarly, emotional regulation and difficulty managing frustration can lead to further alienation and confusion for the child.
How Autism Affects Learning
A child who is on the spectrum may have an average or above-average intelligence but still, face many challenges in school.
Focus and attention delays associated with autism affects learning and might lead to other problems in the classroom. Along with those, a child with ASD has to contend with other issues, including transitions, organization, memory, and time management.
It can be hard to prioritize tasks, work with others, or look past smaller details to see the bigger picture.
A narrow focus can make it hard for a child to summarize ideas or remember the main concepts in a story.
Parents and teachers can try giving information in a way that shows a more prominent pattern of data as a whole.
And, although a child may understand what he learned during the lesson, he may have a hard time applying it to homework assignments.
How To Help A Child With ASD
Fortunately, there are ways that parents can help their children with ASD.
Through direct teaching, or more accurately, Applied Behavioral Analysis, people with autism can live happy, productive lives.
ABA has been a useful treatment tool for almost 50 years, and the last decade has seen even greater success through its application.
Research has found that ABA benefits skills like playing, socializing, communicating, and understanding others’ perspectives.
At the same time, it decreases behaviors that interfere with learning and socializing with family and friends.
These lessons can be one-on-one. But learning with other children will also improve their capability to understand others.
At Sandcastle Centers, we work with parents to select and concentrate on developing specific behaviors. Also, we focus on increasing the frequency of particular actions (like asking for things), or decreasing them ( such as aggression).
We promote learning by breaking various skills into individual components and carefully practicing and reinforcing behaviors.
Early intervention for very young children through the use of ABA makes it possible to live a happier, more productive life.
Every child has potential, no matter their circumstances, and we can help them reach it.