So it is the season of pumpkins and spices, autumnal colors and harvest. Yes, it’s Halloween and for children on the Spectrum this can be a literal nightmare. So, how can we have an Autism friendly Halloween?
Halloween like many other celebrations can cause an extreme amount of sensory overload for children who are on the Autism Spectrum. There is an overdose of color, sound, sensation and food.
This can cause extreme anxiety and as I said and sensory overwhelm. So how can you get your child to participate in Halloween and ‘trick or treating’ if they are on the Autism Spectrum?
First is first, if you child is uncomfortable, doesn’t want to participate please don’t make them. Of course you can encourage and try some of the other tips I suggest to get them past the sensory issues that they will experience, but never force a child on the Spectrum to do anything.
Here are some tips:
You might be thinking that this is going to take a little bit of work and yes it will. The first few experiences will always be more work than the subsequent experiences. If we want children who are on the Autism Spectrum to assimilate and be ‘included’ in society and the events that occur around them, we have to meet them where they are at first.
What do I mean by that?
For them, they will not understand Halloween in the same way that a neurotypical child will. They will think it doesn’t make sense and if something doesn’t make sense it makes them nervous and apprehensive. So, we meet them at a place where it can begin to make sense to them. Small steps, moving forward. Give them as much information as possible to prepare them and with support from loving people around them they might get to ‘trick or treat’ at one or two houses. If that’s all they
get to do to start with, then that’s an achievement. Next year, try for four houses. I guess what I’m trying to say is, don’t let your child’s differences prevent you from trying. Work around them. There is always a way!
If it doesn’t work this year, try a different plan next year. What was it that didn’t work? Make adjustments and ensure you don’t repeat the same plan again. Everything with Autism is trial and error, but we will never know what your child can achieve if we don’t try.
RATIONALE FOR TABLET USE by Karina D. Barley
Imagine a school, just for one moment… where you walked into the door of the school….and the very first questionnaire would contain the questions: “What do you love to do?” What is your favorite thing in life? What are you good at? What would make you smile? How would life/school be if you could do the things that you love to do?
Imagine a school whose curriculum catered for those kinds of questions…and designed a pedagogical program that is individual to your child, based on the answers to those questions?
Teaching to Children's Strengths
It is then that we could abandon English, Math, Science, etc. in the way that it is taught now, where we just deliver buckets of information that has no relevance to kids. Alternatively, let’s say a child’s interest is cooking; what if we were to inspire them to want to learn for example they will want to learn to read because by reading they can gain more information from recipe books. They will want to learn about measurement because this knowledge will help them to become a better chef. They will want to learn about money because they will want to go shopping to purchase their ingredients. They will want to learn about science in the context of how cooking and science interrelate. They will want to learn to write, because they will want to write their own recipes. Just recently, there's a program called Master Junior Chef and everyone is amazed at how incredible the children are.
The comments I hear are "can you believe those kids?" "Those kids are just brilliant". "I can't believe they can cook like that." The recipe (pardon the pun) really isn't that difficult to understand and while I don't want to take away from those amazing kids (because they really are amazing), but these kids are shining because they LOVE to cook; they LOVE to do what they are doing; and when children LOVE doing something, they WILL learn!!! You don't have to ask them, or cajole them into it, they can't wait to get into the kitchen to cook; and to be a better cook, they will learn to read a recipe, learn the math required to get their recipes right; understand the science behind what makes recipes work, flavors taste better etc; and develop creativity in the way they present their food. As I said above, it really is NOT difficult to comprehend and in my mind, this gives me a "recipe", a foundation, a platform from which educating children should stem from. If we start with what they LOVE to do; the rest comes naturally.
I personally believe that using technology can bridge the gaps for those children who are struggling, but also make learning easier for any child. These kids come to school ‘tech’ ready and digitally aware so it makes sense that we give 21st century children, learn using 21st Century technology.