Working with children with autism is both incredibly challenging and incredibly rewarding. They keep teachers on their toes and often force them to think about subjects in a different way. But beyond the challenges lies one universal truth: children with autism teach you more about teaching than any other student. Here are some of the life lessons you can expect after working with children on the spectrum.
It’s Okay to See Things Differently
What a child on the spectrum interprets as the answer a child not on the spectrum won’t. This is because kids with autism interpret information in a different way. It’s not necessarily wrong—often it’s a literal interpretation of what you just said—and that means you’ll need to figure out how to explain concepts in a way that is clear to them.
Through this process, you’ll learn to teach in different ways. This is a skill you can carry with you throughout your career.
Patience is a Necessity
Working with kids requires some degree of patience, but working with children with autism means you’ll need to be just that much more patient. It can be difficult for them to master social cues, behaviors, and concepts that other students seem to grasp immediately. And if you get frustrated, they’ll shut down.
Over time, you’ll start to see patience as a necessity, not just when working with children with autism, but with all children. Even better, you’ll discover tactics to remain patient with students both on and off the spectrum for the rest of your career.
You’ll Learn to See the World Through Their Eyes
Children with autism interpret things differently. But through teaching them and understanding their perspectives, you’ll start to see the world differently yourself. When you can see the world through their eyes, you’ll start to see beauty where others may not. And you’ll begin to appreciate the little things, the details, and small consistencies throughout your life just that much more.
Autism Is More Than a Label
When you’re new to working with children with autism, it’s easy to get distracted by the diagnosis. Over time, you’ll start to see that autism is more of a catch-all and your students are far more unique, smart, and kind than any label allows for.
The more you work with them, the more you’ll see your students as individuals rather than lumping them together based on a particular term. When you recognize the personality of each student, you’ll become a better teacher and a better ally no matter what challenges they face.
Working with Children With Autism Is Rewarding
If you’ve never had the opportunity to work with children with autism before, the thought of taking on a student or two with autism spectrum disorder can be daunting. Though it’s sure to challenge your teaching skills and push you to explore new methods, you’ll develop and improve as a teacher every day.
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