Teaching Kids with Autism – How would your students handle this choice?

What should we be teaching kids with autism?

How would your students handle this choice?

I was out in the community recently and this is how the rest rooms were labeled. Whoever selected the signage decided to be clever. Of course, I knew which door to choose, but I began to wonder. What would your students do?

It reminded me of a time I took my young granddaughter to a restaurant in a resort area up north and her choices were “Bucks” and “Does.” And it’s not unusual to encounter “less tasteful” options from time to time, especially in environments that are more “adult.”

So should we be teaching kids with autism how to recognize dozens of different bathroom signs? Of course not.

I actually have a better idea

Think about this.  When you and I face situations where we don’t know the answer or don’t know what to do, we all have ways to get the information we need.

It often involves asking questions

I know, I know. There are lots of classic jokes out there about men who don’t know where they are going but refuse to stop to ask directions. But in spite of that, you and I have ways to ask questions or ask for help when we really need it.

So what are you teaching kids with autism?

It’s not just about which bathroom to use. The skill they need is much broader. It’s “how to get help when I need help.”

Addressing this skill is much more challenging than it seems on the surface.  What you teach and how it’s done will vary so much depending on the individual student and the location of their need. There’s lots to consider.

For example:

  • Does he even know that he needs help?
  • Can she decide who to ask for help?
  • How does he let someone know he needs something?

Here’s one example from The Planner Guide.

visual-finding a safe person

This example addresses some of the issues that arise when students develop independence in the community. But those issues will be different for each individual and for different environments.

And one student's the solutions may not work for another person.  For example, the last step on this page (find a woman who is with children or alone). I understand the reasoning for that step (probably related to finding a "safe" person), but I also realize how it might not work for some of our students.

So my questions for you. . . . .

How do YOU address this topic?  How do you address "getting help" when teaching kids with autism?  How is it taught? Or perhaps even more important, what do you realize that you need to include in your teaching curriculum?

Please let me know what you think. Answer below.


Solving Behavior Problems in Autism

Behavior problems are not always “bad behaviors.” A foundation of dealing with behavior needs is recognizing the need for information. Giving information to the student and teaching students to get the information they need. The book Solving Behavior Problems in Autism addresses communication needs when we are teaching kids with autism. Do you have this in your library?  It’s a perfect resource for working through teaching these skills that we might not think of.

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  1. Hi Linda. I have found it useful to teach a young adult with different needs to understand when he/she needs help initially starting with those times at home or at school. I have made books using photos of the him/her in a situation where they are challenged and are unable to do something without someone helping them.eg. making a coffee – I will use a photo of them at the point they are struggling and on the opposite page write in comic strip writing “UH! UH! HELP”;(They always seem to relate to an Uh! Uh! in times of crisis!) when they are placing garments on a clothes hanger; when they are removing the safety cover on a razor; when they are trying to follow written instructions on a microwave meal etc. I always compensate the pictures of needing help with pictures of success where the text says, “I can do it! NO HELP needed!” Once they have gotten the idea of understanding that they need help and how to ask for it, this skill is then generalised outside of school or home. I have made key ring pictures to visually remind them who they can go to for help. This has proved very beneficial.

    1. Thank you for sharing your ideas. It sounds like you have been putting a lot of thought into the way you help this individual.

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