Autism can be diagnosed in a child as young as 2 years old. Every child on the autism spectrum is affected differently by their diagnosis. As such, children with autism require uniquely tailored learning environments that allow them to feel safe, supported, and ready to learn.
So, are Montessori schools good for autism? Yes, many parents have found success with Montessori schools because they offer a developmentally appropriate approach based on hands-on activities that address each student’s individual needs.
What Is Autism
This is a brain disorder that affects the ability to communicate and interact with others. It can also make it hard to maintain a conversation, follow directions, or understand sarcasm.
It’s essential to note that autism is not one single disorder; instead, it’s considered a spectrum disorder because it comes in different “flavors” based on how severe symptoms are, so there’s no single way of knowing if someone has autism unless a specialist diagnoses them.
Signs and Symptoms of Autism
Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disability that causes problems with communication, social interaction, and repetitive behaviors. The signs of autism always appear before age 3 and worsen over time without treatment. Here are some symptoms;
- Lack of attention.
- Avoiding eye contact.
- Overly sensitive to light or touch.
- Having difficulty understanding other people’s feelings.
What makes Montessori good for autistic children
One thing that makes Montessori schools so great for kids is that they have multi-age classrooms. The benefits of this type of learning environment extend from both ends of the spectrum:
Older students can teach younger ones how to read and write better because they’re more advanced in their knowledge base (which is why all teachers at Montessori schools need to be certified).
This can be of much assistance to autistic children, who often need extra help with literacy skills.
Younger children can help autistic children feel more confident by demonstrating their abilities (like reading or writing) and serving as an example for social interactions such as sharing toys or playing well together, skills which may take years before autistic children learn on their own.
Individualized Learning Plans
Montessori schools are not just about the materials. Montessori teachers are trained to observe each student’s learning style and ensure that their needs are addressed in the classroom, whether through individualized learning plans or small group instruction.
The Montessori approach to education is about building upon each child’s strengths and addressing their weaknesses, something parents of autistic children know too well.
Self-directed learning is a method of instruction that allows students to choose their curriculum. This is often used in Montessori classrooms and can be helpful for students with autism.
Self-directed learning allows students to choose their activities and pace of learning, which can make them feel more confident and comfortable.
Montessori methods may also be helpful for students with autism because they give the student more control over their education.
This may reduce anxiety associated with traditional classrooms, where students are taught by teachers who expect them to follow along with whatever activity they’re doing at that moment.
Students with autism often do not thrive in these environments because it makes them feel anxious about following along with an activity that might be too difficult for them.
Integration of Sensory and Cognitive Areas of Study
At the Montessori school, the child will learn to integrate sensory and cognitive areas of study.
Sensory integration is an integral part of early childhood development and, if not addressed appropriately, can result in a child with sensory integration issues (SID).
A child with SID may have difficulty processing information while focusing on tasks due to hyper or hypo sensitivities to stimuli.
There are vast arrays of methods you can use to assist your child in improving their sensory processing skills at home. Try some of these ideas for helping your child become more proficient at processing information:
- Try activities that require motor control, such as finger painting or tapping a rhythm on a drum.
- Use visual aids to teach colors, shapes, and sizes by using pictures cut out from magazines or coloring books.
- Play games like “Simon Says,” where one person says something while everyone else follows their directions until they hear “Simon says.” This teaches kids how important listening skills are!
Montessori schools use a child-guided approach, which means that the children are encouraged to pursue their interests.
As a result, your child will enjoy having activities customized for them and will be able to learn about all things that interest them.
For example, if your children are interested in trains or dinosaurs, they can explore those topics at school. They may even take field trips related to his interests.
This way, they can learn more about what he enjoys while also keeping up with his academic work at home.
Specially Trained Teachers
Montessori teachers are trained in various methods, including the Montessori method.
This is important because children who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or other special needs may have difficulty learning in traditional classrooms.
Children with ASD often have sensory processing and executive functioning issues, which means they may have trouble following instructions and staying on task.
There are many benefits of Montessori schools for children with autism. While some may be concerned that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to teaching these students, studies show that the Montessori method has proven to be highly effective in helping individuals with autism learn and develop social skills.
It is important for teachers and parents alike to consider how each child learns best and what type of environment would promote their growth as academic students and people who will live among others in society.
What kind of child does best in Montessori? Children with special needs like physical and learning disabilities do best in Montessori because children are free to move anywhere, which is suitable for children, especially those who need physical activities.
Are Montessori students more successful? Yes, this is because Montessori schools foster higher executive functioning skills, autonomy over learning, critical reasoning, deep focus, and problem-solving.