Every once in a while, the Leka Team is happy to welcome external contributors and share their food for thoughts. This post has been written by Grace Carter, an educator at Assignment Help and Boom Essays services. She creates online writing courses and publishes useful blog posts on writing there. Also, Grace tutors at Essayroo academic portal.

unsplash-logoAngelina Litvin

Students with autism experience significant challenges to learning, but all this means is it's necessary to get creative and find the methods that work for them. Communication, attention, and motor skill deficits are all challenges that can be met with some simple techniques and a lot of patience. Here are six ways to teach writing to students with autism.

Visual cues

"Before you get down to some actual writing, try teaching your student the concept of making purposeful movements on paper with a pencil. They can also learn about having a goal with the line they draw, doing this will prime them for further writing exercises," suggests Billy Andrews, educator at BigAssignments. You can begin by starting a shape or line you would like your student to trace. Use a series of stickers to sketch out a rough shape and have them fill it in. Have them connect dots, or place stickers along a line you’ve drawn. Use brightly colored paper to get your student’s attention. Then have her draw on the paper with contrasting colors.

Break things down

Teach the writing process in small, simple steps. Think about a step, then back up further. Be-fore a student with autism can write a sentence, they need to know how to hold a pencil correctly, and how to say the words they will write. "If your student is experiencing difficulties, slow down, run through the process in your mind and figure out where the disconnect is. Once you’ve broken it down and identified where the stumbling point is, you and the student can go over it and practice it," advises Lisa Jackson, teacher at Academized.

Hand therapy

Hand therapy can be very helpful to children with fine motor skill deficits by building up their muscle tone. Quite often an occupational therapist can help you and your student with this therapy. Having the student paint or draw on a paper held on a vertical surface can help them develop muscles in their wrists. You may even purchase magnetic dry erase wallpaper for your child to practice on. Things like stress balls and play dough can be squeezed to strengthen finger muscles; have the student begin with something softer and then move on to increasingly hard materials as they improve their strength. Playing tug of war with a large rubber band will allow the child to build up strength in the arms and wrists.

Teach vocabulary

Teaching vocabulary is especially important when helping students with autism. Try breaking down your lessons into categories. You could practice different ways of saying "happy", and then once the student has mastered that, have them practice writing these words in sentences. Start with vocabulary words the student is already familiar with, and uses in their speech, and then progress on to new words. A vocabulary lesson is an important part of a good daily routine.

Use online tools to help kids with writing

Writing can be challenging for students with autism, so why not get some extra help from the professionals? Here are some good resources to get you started:

  • Via Writing and My Writing Way
    Check out these grammar guides for help going over your student’s work for grammatical errors. Don’t take any chances, get some help from the experts.
  • Let's Go and Learn and AcademAdvisor
    These are online educational resources you can use to assist your student and help them improve their writing skills.
  • State Of Writing and Simple Grad
    These are writing resources you and your student can access for ideas and suggestions on how to improve their writing assignments. Even teachers can benefit from a little extra instruction now and then.
  • Writing Populist and Studydemic
    Check out these interesting educational blogs for material and posts that will help your student improve their writing and have fun.

Some activities to encourage writing

Getting creative is very important. Try playing the tag team game, where you write something and the student copies, and then you switch. Changing the medium can help keep the child interested. Use finger paints, sidewalk chalk, crayons, and dry erase markers to keep things fun and interesting. If you’re experiencing a lot of resistance to writing, take a break and do an oral lesson instead.

Conclusion

There are certain challenges associated with teaching a student with autism to write. Fortunately none of these challenges is insurmountable. Use these six ways to teach writing to students with autism.