Virtual learning has become a reality for most students due to the pandemic. It’s been an adjustment for everyone involved, including students, teachers, and parents. Educators have had to find new ways to adapt their teaching methods, and students often find it more challenging to stay focused. Many kids also experience technical difficulties, which does not make things any easier.
However, many students with autism have been able to benefit from this virtual learning adjustment. In-person schooling is usually a challenge for them. They may face obstacles in other areas of life as well, including nonverbal communication, social and emotional reciprocity, and high anxiety levels. Students with autism were used to a school day filled with special activities and a skilled professional to meet their daily needs — but without that in-person setting, many have actually been able to perform better educationally.
While many kids don’t see virtual learning as ideal, the benefits for students with autism are immense. Students of all ages with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are beginning to thrive with online education. Below are some of the advantages of online schooling for kids with autism.
In a brick-and-mortar school setting, each student must adhere to the standardized curriculum and the daily schedule. That doesn’t work for everyone. Students with autism are most engaged in learning when they can follow their own interests and work at their own pace.
Flexibility in the schedules for online schooling allows students to work when they feel most productive. Things are relaxed rather than fixed, with bells ringing throughout the day. Plus, the lack of an imposed schedule at school allows students with ASD — and their parents — to develop their own routines in ways that feel more comfortable for them.
Decreased Stress and Anxiety
Unfortunately, many students with autism experience significant stress and anxiety in a traditional school setting. Online learning reduces personal interactions and worries about social requirements.
Additionally, there is less bullying and social stress when students learn remotely. The decreased stress and worry over their social appearance allow students to thrive in their learning.
Since online learning happens at home, the student with autism can better manage unforeseen occurrences. The house is already adapted to the student and vice versa. They can better manage their sensory inputs since there’s a lack of students talking in hallways, bells ringing, and various sight sensory distractions. Overall, they have fewer distractions.
Ownership of Learning
Students on the autism spectrum learn much more than what is presented to them in the classroom. Throughout a day at traditional school, they learn social skills and manage senses and other emotional and social items. While online learning lacks this additional element, it provides a more focused and controllable structure, allowing individualized curriculums that meet the needs of varying types of learners.
Because most school is online now, there are some limitations for teachers and students. However, educators have been able to get creative with virtual learning, and they have continued to provide engaging lessons for all students. Some teachers have even made it possible for more individualized learning and offer more one-on-one time with students who may have a disability.
Besides, teachers have been able to follow the lead of the students. If students want to continue learning online rather than going back to the brick-and-mortar school setting, they have that option. Providing students with autism more opportunities in their learning styles means they can take ownership of education, which can move them to take more responsibility in other aspects of their lives.
Ever since students with ASD could learn from home online, there has been an increase in attendance. Students no longer have to worry about what’s waiting for them at school. With the freedom to create their own schedule, they can take classes on their own time. Good attendance creates healthy habits, and it allows students to engage in class fully.
Is Virtual Learning Better for Students With Autism?
While there are still many challenges that students with autism face with online schooling, it also provides several benefits that are not as possible with in-person learning. Students with autism can better manage their schedule and social life, opening doors for a more individualized experience. Online learning could be a better choice for many of them in the future.
About the Author: Ginger Abbot is a lifestyle and learning writer who talks about mental health, career development, and personal growth. Read more of her work on Classrooms, where she serves as Editor and contributing writer.
April Is Autism Acceptance Month
Bringing Awareness to the Challenges and Celebrating the Accomplishments and Inclusion of People with Autism in 2021
In 1972 the Autism Society of America launched the first National Autistic Children’s week, which evolved into Autism Awareness Month throughout April. This year, the Autism Society, with other leading disability organizations, has called for the change to Autism Acceptance Month for this annual observance.
“While we will always work to spread awareness, words matter as we strive for autistic individuals to live fully in all areas of life,” says Christopher Banks, President and CEO of the Autism Society of America. “As many individuals and families affected by autism know, acceptance is often one of the biggest barriers to finding and developing a strong support system.”
For 2021, the theme of Acceptance Month is Celebrate Differences. “Designed to build a better awareness of the signs, symptoms, and realities of autism, #CelebrateDifferences focuses on providing information and resources for communities to be more aware of autism, promote acceptance, and be more inclusive in everyday life.”
The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios only.
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