SchoolArts Magazine

OCT 2014

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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M E E T I N G I N D I V I D U A L N E E D S Autism and Art 12 October 2014 SchoolArts helps to prepare visual aids for stu- dents with autism, such as picture schedules or drawings (though some students may do better with verbal instruction). Many students with autism do not like get- ting dirty or working with materials that may make a mess, so make different media available to keep their work area clean. Teaching Strategies Communication is sometimes an issue with students with autism, so if he or she seems to have trouble under- standing you, be direct and shorten your sentences. Visuals may help if social cues, body language, and facial expressions are misinterpreted. Clar- ity arrives by repetition and simpli- fication of directions. Wait patiently when students require more time to answer questions and encourage group patience. S ome students' interests often become singular and obsessive, so it's important to redirect them to their assigned activity. Shorten or reduce tasks when student frustrations impede progress. Should the student fail to learn a task, try presenting it differently using verbal instructions, visual examples, demonstrations, or reconfigure it using fewer steps. Pro- vide the student with additional time when necessary. A bove all, keep in mind that every student with autism is unique. While these suggestions are a great starting point, it's important to treat each student as an individual and be flexible when considering his or her needs. Ann Horton-Lopez teaches at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. ann.lopez@ W E B L I N K data.html available. Students with autism tend to be either neat and organized, or the opposite. Those who are neat and orga- nized may get upset with a cluttered work area. They can also get upset if someone disturbs their materials. Make sure there is no clutter around the area where the student will sit. The student who is not neat will need your help cleaning up, as he or she is not making a conscious choice to be messy. Place a waste- basket by his or her desk and provide containers that will not easily tip over when working. Lesson Prep If you know that your student can become frustrated about being unable to create a realistic image, find resources and examples that are expressive or abstract in nature. For an art history lesson, some students need handouts or a paper copy of a PowerPoint with text highlighting precisely the information you expect him or her to learn. It also A s of 2013, about one in eighty-eight children have been identified as having an autism spectrum disorder. Due to the growing rate of students diagnosed with autism, art teachers— especially new ones—may need to apply learning adaptations and modifi- cations for these students. T he preparation of the artroom and lessons for students with autism will vary depending on the type and sever- ity of the disorder. Each student is unique and will respond differently to various approaches. Artroom Prep Plan to place the student with autism next to empathetic, calm classmates. Also, reserve a quiet spot in the art- room where he or she can go for solace in case of emotional difficulty. Some students with autism are irritated by noises, so eliminate as much noise as possible. If the hum of fluorescent lights irritate the student, cre- ate a space for him or her by a window or another light, or turn off the fluo- rescent light. If possible, have headphones and calm music Each student with autism is unique and will respond differently to various approaches. Ann Horton Lopez 12 October 2014 SchoolArts

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