How to help autistic children retain information


I received a question posted to my homeschool group about how to help your children retain information they are learning in school.  This is something I struggle with all the time, but with my autistic son.  He is getting better at understanding some words or concepts that you are teaching him, but the retention skill has not been mastered!  That led me to the question of how to help my son learn and RETAIN what we are teaching him.  One of the first rules of thumb that I have learned is diet and supplements are to be considered, (I will discuss that more in another post),  but if you have that accomplished what more can you do?  The author below brings in some important information about how children with autism process what they are being taught and what we can do to help them succeed to greater academic levels. 

Communication skills for autistic children differ from the norm, including their thinking process. Children with autism find words too busy, so it’s easier to retain information through pictures. Through remembrance of pictures, autistic children are able to understand others and express themselves.
Autistic children learn verbal language by converting text to pictures. While typical thinkers do tasks sequentially, those with autism have a visual style of thinking. Therefore, shapes of pictures and color of pictures play an important role in the way they think. They help autistic children learn a vocabulary that is easier to express.

According to research, individuals with autism think visually because the part of the brain associated with visual tasks is more active. In addition, the language and spatial centers in the cortical regions of the brain are not as synchronized as those without the disorder.

Visual thinking allows children with autism to compensate for spoken and written words. Because their brains function differently, they can better comprehend things by building visuals and memorizing them. They take concepts, which are sensory rather than word based, and compartmentalize them into little details to form a whole picture.

Autistic children can be taught abstract words and ideas through visual concepts, like pictures and objects. For example, if a particular stuffed animal makes a child happy, it would become their visual symbol for the word happy. Bright colors for pictures can stimulate brain activity in the thinking process of autistic children.

Autistic children find it easier to express themselves within a structured environment. Because people with autism think visually, it’s important that they are taught using visuals, such as pictures, objects, line drawings, or symbols. Through spatial memory to pictures or objects, people with autism are able to associate the appropriate words and develop communication skills that allow them to function in society.

For children with autism, a string of words or verbal instructions are learned through visual demonstration. For instance, the word “up” is easier to express in a picture of balloons in soft colors being lifted upward. Concrete visual methods, like flashcards and blocks in soft colors, are easier to retain among autistic children and help in teaching numbers and other concepts. Long verbal phrases need to be avoided or written down because autistic children have difficulty remembering a lot of steps or word sequences.

Research that compared the brain regions of people with autism to those without found that most people with autism excel in art and drawing. As such, autistic children do well with a color coded system that allows them to think through a remembrance of pictures. For example, an autistic child learns about what to do at an intersection by thinking of its concept. These thoughts are tiny color coded pictures of various types of intersections.
When the situation arises, the mind gathers this information and presents it visually so the autistic child remembers what to do at an intersection.

Autistic children think in pictures instead of words because it is easier for them to sort and retain information. By associating a noun to the color and shape of pictures or objects, the autistic child creates a spatial way of thinking that makes it easier for them to comprehend and communicate.

About the author:
“Bonita Darula is widely renown for her insights into the prevention of autism. Her celebrated materials have helped thousands of people from around the World find a new sense of hope. If you’d like to discover the secret truth about autism in its early stages, take a few moments to look here=>”

Second tip from the homeschool mom, this is something I think my son would benefit from in addition to the above suggestion:

Some of us implement a notebook system. My girls have a spiral notebook for each 
subject (color coded usually to match the subject). Each day they write the 
date, assignment title, goals, and vocabulary list. Then they take notes, write 
down the questions they didn’t answer correctly on the first try with the 
correct answer. This is what they study for quizzes and tests but it doesn’t 
require more computer time. The act of writing the information helps them retain 
it longer and they get penmanship practice as well.”

If you have some suggestions in this area, please feel free to comment!


2 thoughts on “How to help autistic children retain information

  1. Our grandson, 16 years old, has some form of learning disability but I have yet to learn what it is. He goes to a doctor every month for something. I have never been told why he attends these sessions. I think it is a one on one with the doctor, not sure. I don’t ask to many questions. He is always being punished for something. This child was tested several yeats ago and found to have an IQ over 140. He a loving child and avoids trouble even if it means lying about something to avoid being scolded. I know a lie is a lie, but this is not something that would hurt anyone but him. Example is completing in-school work, and a homework assignment. He does most of his work to the best of his ability, but many times it is incorrect. Then he has to do it over. It is frustrating for him. He really does not get it. There are other brothers younger and one older who is very protective of him. He is easy to take advantage of. He really does not have anything going for him as activies. He has one hobby of collecting some kind of cards, and has for years. He IS different than other children, but is treated as if he is a normal sixteen year old. This is not working for him, and he has never said anything about being different. I am not sure he even suspects anything not being right about himself. If so he has never hinted about it. Maybe he feels like keeping his thoughts to himself that he IS normal in every sense of the word. Just not so, and as his grandmother I don’t know what to do for him. We talk a lot, but I would never bring up his disability. He would totally freak out.

    I just had to say my piece for me and other grandparents who may be going through something similar. Thanks for listening. Quite sure some words misspelled. No spell check. My email is down for now because of upgrades at the cable company. I will monitor the site for welcome comments, thought.

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