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#1650296 - 03/29/11 02:14 PM Teaching a high-functioning Autistic Student
brian36251 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/01/11
Posts: 1
Hello all,

I've been lurking here for some time, this will be my first post.

I recently 'acquired' an 8 year old autistic student. His autism is very mild, and, if I hadn't been informed otherwise, I would have assumed that he was ADD.

That being said, he has an astoundingly short attention span. And sometimes I'm not entirely sure that communication is happening between us.

I'm not a trained educator by any stretch of the imagination, and I wondered if any better trained/more experienced teachers had any input on how I might go about teaching/assessing this student's progress.

Piano Teacher, Pianist
Washington and Oregon, USA

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#1650302 - 03/29/11 02:26 PM Re: Teaching a high-functioning Autistic Student [Re: brian36251]
danshure Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 347
Loc: Massachusetts
Hi Brian

Welcome! My tactic with short attention spans is to change the type of activity every 5-7 minutes, or just keep a good eye on their attention and change gears if need be.

For example, you could do a mix of; games, improvisation, theory, repertoire, writing at a board, role switching, ear training, etc - I think you get the idea. smile

I'd also consider the different learning styles - if you've been talking a lot, switch to some visuals, then switch to some games with movement - try to involve all the senses as much as possible.
Go here ---> Piano Teaching Blog

#1650350 - 03/29/11 03:32 PM Re: Teaching a high-functioning Autistic Student [Re: brian36251]
tdow Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/13/10
Posts: 203
Loc: Canada
Danshure has some great suggestions - regular change of focus is really important, but not just a change in activity but also environment will be most effecitve in re-focusing him. Think theory games on the white board, card games etc. away from the piano. Another thing that I found was important with the Autistic students I have taught is to keep the teaching space visually simple (ie. no pens, pencils, stickers, decorations, books etc. on the piano) and to just have the one book you are using open. This prevents them from fixating on something visually that you have no idea they have noticed (causing a lapse in concentration that they often have no control over).

Knowing if communication is happening can be difficult, but I really tried to cover all my bases by teaching a concept that was really important in different ways (aurally, visually, kinesthetically) to be sure that they understood. For a lot of children (not just autistic) they can find verbally demonstrating their understanding to be difficult...even if they do understand.

Best of luck!
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