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Autism Affects A Student's Learning Process in Several Ways

Autism Affects A Student's Learning Process in Several Ways

There are no two ways about it. Autism can make learning difficult. Here are areas where autistic students often struggle and require extra focus and attention from teachers and educators.

An autistic child may struggle with sensory challenges

There are seven systems involved in sensory processing: touch, balance, visual, auditory, taste, smell and proprioception (where your body is in space). In the case of autism, oftentimes these symptoms don’t integrate well with each other. This can result in an underreaction or overreaction to external stimuli.

A classroom setting is loaded with stimuli from hands-on learning materials to different workstations, activity centers and the bustle of other students. In most cases, an autistic child with sensory processing issues will feel overwhelmed and overstimulated by the traditional classroom environment. Their stress often manifests in challenging behaviors that make it difficult for them to learn and can also be an interruption for the other students in the class.

Their behavior can also detract from the teacher’s ability to teach well and keep all students engaged.

An autistic child may see life with a narrow focus

Autistic children are often extraordinarily detail-oriented. They notice details and pick up on things that others don’t. While this can be leveraged as a major strength, it also has its drawbacks.

In a classroom setting, an autistic child may be distracted by a teacher’s striped shirt and unable to focus on the directions she’s giving. Or they may hone in on particular details of a story without grasping the main idea.

An autistic child may have narrow and intense interests

An acute interest in a certain subject such as math, science or music is not uncommon for a child with autism. This interest easily becomes an obsession and their proclivity towards that subject in combination with their passion and drive to pursue it may put them way ahead of their peers in certain academic areas.

The other side of the same coin, however, is that this narrow and intense interest easily becomes all-consuming. An autistic student may not understand why their peers don’t share their passion or want to talk about a subject repetitively. Teachers can also have a difficult time teaching their autistic students information outside of their area(s) of interest because they cannot get or hold their attention.

An autistic child may experience speech delays

Language development issues are often the first signs of autism in a young child. These challenges can develop because an autistic child is distracted by external stimuli and less apt to engage with parents in exchanges that promote language development. Left unattended, the problem will persist and the language gap will widen between this child and their peers.

When a child struggles with verbal communication, they have a more difficult time interacting with their teachers and fellow students in the classroom.

An autistic child may manifest weak nonverbal communication skills

What a child is lacking in verbal skills they can make up for in nonverbal skills, at least theoretically. Some autistic children with weak verbal skills learn and communicate effectively with sign language. Unfortunately, many autistic children struggle to make eye contact and make or interpret meaningful gestures which could serve to facilitate communication.

Weak nonverbal communication skills are a common barrier to classroom learning for autistic students.

Did you know that brain training can help boost weak cognitive skills that make learning difficult for children with autism? LearningRx brain trainers have experience leveraging children’s strengths and interests in a fun, engaging, one-on-one setting. Over almost a decade, LearningRx brain trainers worked with 1,049 children and adults on the autism spectrum. Our students saw vast gains in cognitive functions, specifically in the areas of long-term memory, broad attention and auditory processing. Read more about our study here!

If your autistic child struggles with learning, we’d love to share how we can help. Contact us on our website to learn more.

There are no two ways about it. Autism can make learning difficult. Here are areas where autistic students often struggle and require extra focus and attention from teachers and educators.

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