Lesson Plans for Preschool Autistic Children
By Adrienne Warber
Lesson plans for preschool autistic children can help prepare your child for school and fits well into early childhood autism intervention. Preschool lesson plans can begin a homeschool educational program or prepare your child to enter a school in the future.
About Lesson Plans for Preschool Autistic Children
A lesson plan is a set of organized educational activities with specific goals. Lesson plans for preschool autistic children can help improve the key developmental areas of cognitive, motor, language and social skills. Strengthening these developmental skills will help children with autism have an easier transition into school.
It is never too early to start teaching your child. Early intervention is essential to your child’s progress. A November 2009 University of Washington Seattle study on early intervention found that working with children as young as 18 months can significantly improve language, IQ and social skills. Previous studies have shown that preschoolers (ages 3 to 5) respond to early intervention from parents and therapists. In many of these studies, parents worked with their children at home as part of an intervention program. Home lesson plans can enhance an early intervention program.
There are many free lesson plan resources online so that can access the information conveniently at home without spending any money. It is also a good idea to check out local resources for lesson plan help such as autism support organizations, nonprofit programs and schools.
You should also talk to your child’s therapists to get ideas on how to develop home lesson plans. The therapist will have access to many helpful educational tools as well as provide advice that can help you teach your child during home sessions.
Preschool Lesson Plans for Autism Guide
A preschool lesson plan for autism should include activities that focus on developing the following areas:
- Vocabulary and language: Include lessons that encourage speech and language development such as flashcards or word association activities with visual aids. Some nonverbal children with autism respond best to a visual communication system such as Picture Exchange Card System (PECS) or Boardmaker.
- Social behavior and interaction: Autistic children generally need help some aspects of social interaction. Social Stories, developed by The Gray Center, a teaching method that uses stories to instruct children about appropriate social behavior, is a good lesson to improve social skills. The method teaches both social interaction and a better understanding of the emotional responses of others. Floortime activities, a therapy using child-led play, is also good for social skill lessons.
- Problem-solving: Add activities that encourage problem-solving in the lesson plan for cognitive development. Puzzles and sorting/matching worksheets are good preschool exercises.
- Fine and gross motor skills: Motor skill lessons should be encouraged. Examples of fine motor skill activities are tracing shapes and stringing beads. Balance games and dancing to music can build gross motor skills.
- Sensory processing: Sensory processing lessons are also important. Create activities that teach about the five senses. Examples of activities that engage the senses are identifying different textures and singing.
The teaching sessions should be structured because many children with autism respond better to a highly structured learning environment. You can find structured learning tasks guides online.
Developing a Lesson Plan
Here are some tips for developing a lesson plan:
- Use the child’s interests to determine the best type of activities and lessons for her.
- Research the activities and lessons that you want to include in the lesson plan to determine the best way to utilize them. Make a list of the lessons.
- Decide what your goals are for the lessons and how the lessons will lead to the goals.
- Create an outline of the lesson plan.
- Make a lesson plan schedule that is compatible with your child’s current routine.
Online Resources for Preschool Lesson Plans
The following online resources provide free lesson plans and educational materials:
- Practical Autism Resources: Practical Autism Resources has a large selection of free worksheets, lesson plans and printable picture cards.
- The Perpetual Preschool: The Perpetual Preschool site has educational ideas, lesson plans, activities and other resources for parents and preschool teachers. It also has a discussion forum that allows parents and teachers to discuss learning ideas.
- Cindy’s Autistic Support: Cindy’s Autistic Support site has free printable worksheets, lesson plan information and advice for teaching children with autism.
- Lesson Tutor: Lesson Tutor provides free lesson plans, printable worksheets for preschool thru high school age children.
- Do2Learn: Do2Learn has a large selection of free games and printables for visual learning. Many of these free items can be included in a lesson plan.
- Positively Autism: The Positively Autism emagazine has a resource section with information on where to free educational tools and lesson plans.
Working with Your Preschooler
Consider your preschooler’s interests, current skill level and areas that need improvement when selecting or developing lesson plans. Work at your child’s pace. Don’t get discouraged if your child doesn’t always follow the plan or if she occasionally gets upset about a certain lesson task. Just keep working with your child each day, preferably on a schedule because most autistic children prefer a structured routine. Your child may have good days and bad days during instruction but every time you work with her, she is learning. All of the time you spend with your child makes a tremendous difference. Your efforts are the stepping-stones that guide her to a bright future.