An autistic student is more than a just test score

Community project for autistic people to be ready by 2023

(Photo: File Photo)

By Shuchita Dua Dullu

Research shows that when schools and parents shift focus from mere attainment of knowledge to overall skill development and enhancement, children progress more and have a higher probability of succeeding in life. A reality that we as teachers and parents often disregard and forget is that grades are not defining factors of success in life and neither do they measure a child’s intelligence.

With exams around the corner, it’s time we take a pause, reflect and remind ourselves that our ‘children of determination’, are way more than their test scores and report cards.

When pressure to perform is already at a peak, cause minimal disturbance in their routine and prepare them for changes beforehand, if necessary. Continue with therapies, for they provide an outlet, are helpful and a must.

Children with autism struggle with emotional expression and thus as primary caregivers, it becomes imperative that we provide them ample opportunities to help them express their anxiety and stress. Encourage them to continue at a hobby or activity of interest to help provide for an outlet for emotions.

Since expression is a point of concern, be it verbal or written, be sure to aid them with learning tools like flow-charts, mnemonics, graphical organisers and the likes to support them in answering questions. Ask for or make use of the concessions and accommodations that our educational boards provide to assist better performance. It not only eases out the unnecessary pressure, but also supports and improves overall performance scores.

While helping children learn and keep up with the demands of the current educational system, remember not to undermine their capabilities. A child’s sense of self and confidence stems from his/her interaction with significant caregivers aka parents and teachers. Keeping check on your own responses and emotional reaction is as important as keeping check on theirs. Be careful of the language that you use while speaking to them and in no way give a message that they are incapable of achieving at exams.

Continue to help them develop the essential life skills and support them through mental health concerns, to help them maintain their confidence and self-esteem. Make study and exam preparation time a democratic process. Do not dictate but respect participation and their judgement.

Allow failure, for there is learning there too. Appreciate the effort and the intent and not the score. Work on the strengths and undermine the weaknesses to help them grow. There is enough research evidence to prove that happier children develop into successful and confident adults.

Encourage them to follow and engage in developing functional skills and interest. Starting functional and vocation-based training is always helpful and advisable.

Finally, a gentle reminder again, children with or without autism are way more than their test scores. It is important that parents and teachers, recognise and appreciate the same.

(The writer is Senior Manager, Child Psychologist, Mom's Belief.)