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September 10, 2021

5 Ways to Empower Your Autistic Childs Interest in STEM

In an ideal situation, any child with a passion for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) can explore their interests with no hindrances. For children with autism, such opportunities can be too few for their own good, which can be frustrating for these exceptional and talented children.

Not all autistic children have an interest in these subjects. However, those interested should not only have access to STEM but also get help so they can excel in it. How can you encourage children to learn STEM? Here’s how you encourage parents to foster their children’s love for science and how you can help kids excel.

Photo by Monstera from Pexels

Photo by Monstera from Pexels

  1. Expose Them To STEM early

One of the best ways that families can help children with autism to make headway into STEM subjects is early exposure. Whether they are on the spectrum or not, exposing children to STEM subjects early into their development can foster a love for these topics.

Exposing children to STEM does not even mean you need to teach them complex subjects. You can teach them about everyday events in their lives and explain concepts. Take advantage in shaping how they look at the world and explain different types of phenomena in a more simplified manner.

Integrate STEM learning into daily living. Teach them important concepts in daily living, whether it’s chemical reactions during cooking or why the sky is blue. You wouldn’t even need to be interested in STEM itself, but rather be there and learn with them.

For children with autism, it’s more helpful to teach them practical applications of STEM subjects in their lives. You would want to encourage their curiosity, allowing them to explore as much as they want. You can start with something as simple as observing how ants move and explaining simple science as you go.

2. Supplement Their School Learning At Home

One of the most common challenges of children with autism is learning with other students. Most children on the spectrum are usually excluded in STEM activities, mostly coming from misconceptions about their learning capacity. When that happens, parents must be proactive in their children’s learning.

To help your kids excel in STEM, you would want to watch over their learning. See to it that teachers understand the needs of your child and that they give them enough opportunities to foster their love for STEM subjects. Most teachers are usually willing to help children on the spectrum too, so it’s a matter of helping them enjoy their lessons.

To supplement their learning, support their interests at home. Get them supplementary materials like books, dinosaurs, building blocks, and even a computer to help them develop their skills. Think about ways that you can do to foster their interests.

Photo by Kindel Media from Pexels

Photo by Kindel Media from Pexels

3. Build on Their STEM-Related Skills

Children with autism tend to focus on specific skills that make their interests enjoyable to them. Helping them excel in STEM does not mean you give them books and call it a day. Rather, it’s best to focus on honing their STEM-related skills first so they can enjoy these concepts even further.

STEM subjects generally follow skills that you need in scientific endeavors. These include:

  • Curiosity

  • Critical thinking

  • Creativity

  • Problem-solving

  • observation

How do you help them develop these skills? Never get tired of answering their questions. Help them explore their questions so they can find the answers they want. Blend different projects and activities for them so they never get tired of learning.

The key for children with autism is not only to nurture their love for STEM as a whole but also to build on their problem-solving skills. This move can unlock more knowledge for them that goes beyond what books can teach.

4. Consider Autism Therapy

There are many studies on how therapy can help your child thrive, improving their abilities and the child’s chance for success. What therapies work vary from person to person, so you must do your research and learn the most proven options available. This can boost your child’s interest in STEM subjects by correcting some quirks they may have.

Among the most common types of autism therapies include: 

  • Occupational therapy

  • Applied Behavior Analysis

  • Social Skills

  • Speech Therapy

  • Relationship Development Intervention (RDI)

  • Sensory Integration

The list goes on and on, but the idea is to start your child early on therapy. If you even suspect that they have autism, it’s best to start therapy as soon as you can, until you can confirm with a proper diagnosis. By giving them a chance to resolve their quirks early in life, they can focus on building on their STEM skills later in life.

Photo by Monstera from Pexels

Photo by Monstera from Pexels

5. Give Them Hands-On STEM Experiences

Sneakily adding STEM learning into the lives of children with autism is useful, but there are other ways to help them excel. It’s important to combine fun, hands-on experiences, teaching them to learn with their senses. As kids on the spectrum are more sensory than the average child, making them learn with their hands can be something enjoyable.

Where you can, make sure to never make their learning a lesson. Don’t harangue your children with information that they will naturally absorb. Wait for them to ask you for help on things they are having a hard time understanding.

If you’re out of ideas on what you can do, bring them on small trips to museums, galleries, and zoos. Children on the spectrum also enjoy educational toys that encourage them to build and create like LEGO. You can even teach your child how to code through fun activities on their computer.

Photo by Keira Burton from Pexels

6. Encourage Educational Screen Time

One of the simplest but also most enjoyable activities that you can do with your children on the autism spectrum is watching TV. In normal circumstances, controlled screen time can help your kids learn STEM concepts that you are unable to teach at home. There are several choices for educational TV shows that should be easy for your kids to digest.

For starters, the foremost option that you have is Mythbusters. The show is a little dated, running between 2003 - 2016, with some revival episodes in between. Mythbusters is famous for encouraging an entire generation of children to delve deeper into STEM. They’re also fun enough to keep your child’s attention.

Some other TV and internet show that they’ll appreciate include shows like Bill Nye the Science Guy, Magic School Bus, Sesame Street, and more. You would want to specialize their watch list as they grow older and improve their choices.

Making children with autism excel in STEM is a matter of helping them develop. Knowing what you can do, what kind of support you can give them, and how you can nurture their interests is crucial in how they grow. Follow these suggestions and you’ll likely see a more well-adjusted child who enjoys learning.

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