If you are a professional educator who works with children on the autism spectrum, you might be interested in autism problem solving activities. Following are five classroom-based strategies designed to help teachers encourage the development of problem-solving skills in their autistic students.
Break Down the Activity into Easily Digestible Steps
Students often feel overwhelmed when activities are presented in a big picture format. Breaking activities down into steps that are easily digestible is key to the development of problem-solving capabilities in autistic students.
The first step is to identify the problem. The next step is researching possible solutions to the problem, taking care to focus on actionable answers. A careful evaluation of each prospective solution should follow before coming to a logical conclusion of the best course of action. During this time, it’s important to limit external stimuli and keep language as straightforward as possible.
Social Problem-Solving Strategies
You can use a modified version of the above for autism problem solving activities to help children learn effective social skills. For instance, begin with teaching them to use “I” statements for the purpose of clearly communicating their feelings. “I” statements communicate emotions in a concise and blameless fashion and provides a positive means of self-expression.
You can also help students develop good social skills by teaching empathy. For instance, you can use story time activities to discuss the possible emotions of characters, asking direct questions such as why they might feel the way they do and what students would be feeling in their places. Stories can also be used to show good role models for dealing with negative or conflicting feelings.
You can also demonstrate positive problem-solving skills by using a thinking-out-loud approach when unexpected issues arise in the classroom. For instance, if you had planned to take the children outdoors for a study activity and it starts to rain, hold an open discussion concerning replacing the planned activity with something else.
Role playing exercises in the classroom provide another way to teach healthy and productive problem-solving strategies. Present small groups of children with different social scenarios and have the children discuss how they might feel in the same situations, possible courses of action, and best case outcomes. You can also use tools such as task cards to facilitate discussion.
Keep in mind that while it’s important for teachers to provide a certain level of oversight and direction regarding classroom problem solving activities, it’s also essential to let the children work things out for themselves whenever possible.