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Staying safe when teaching students with autism

On Behalf of | Nov 30, 2023 | Blog, Workplace Accidents |

Teaching students with autism is a rewarding but challenging career path. That said, the wrong conditions often put an instructor in significant danger.

Most relationships between autistic learners and their educators are harmless. Nonetheless, understanding the situations they are dealing with is imperative.

Communication challenges

Autistic students may have difficulty expressing their needs or frustrations through words. As a result, they might resort to physical actions such as punching or kicking. Teachers must develop skills to divert these non-verbal eruptions.

Sensory overload and meltdowns

Heightened sensitivities are common among autistic students, and environmental factors can cause a loss of control. Significantly, 40% of autistic children and adolescents suffer from at least one comorbid anxiety disorder. When overwhelmed, classmates may experience episodes during which they pose a risk to themselves or others. Teachers must know their potential triggers and have coping strategies at the ready.

Repetitive behaviors

Some autistic students engage in repetitive activities. These include physical actions, often referred to as “stimming,” like hand flapping, rocking or jumping. While such gestures are often little more than self-soothing mechanisms, teachers must be mindful that they could become harmful.

A calm and supportive atmosphere

Creating a positive classroom environment minimizes the risk. By fostering a tranquil and loving habitat, teachers can reduce stressors and contribute to the overall wellness of both their students and themselves.

Interactions between students on the spectrum and their teachers are typically without incident. Despite this, educators should address the potential hazards before trouble arises. An attack from a pupil, even one that is absent ill intent, could cause an educator to suffer a painful and debilitating injury.