“Being fair does not mean giving every child the same thing, but giving each child what they need”
Autism seems to be increasing in prevalence (although the reasons why still remain questionable) and since it is classified as a developmental disorder, there may be a large number of autistic children in the mainstream school system. It is important for you as a teacher to realize that autistic children are different.
They take you literally: Autistic children will most likely not know if you are joking, being sarcastic, or using a well known phrase such as “get the lead out of your pants” to signify that the child should go faster. An autistic child may think that you believe they actually have lead in their pants and you would like them to take it out.
Autistics have special interests: Autistic children have special interests that keep them occupied and make it hard for them to really concentrate on other, less interesting things. Although it is still possible for autistics to concentrate on other subjects, it takes a great deal more work than it would for a typical child and therefore they will need extra attention from you.
They are different and therefore the target of bullying: Autistic children venture very far from the typical child in some aspects and, in a world where difference is unnacceptable, autistic children will be the main target of a majority of bullying. It is important that you, as their teacher and leader, show the rest of the class how to act appropriately with each and every child. This includes, but is not limited to autistics.
They have flapping and rocking motions that may be disturbing to classmates: Autistics demonstrate many behaviors that are used to relax and calm them in agitating situations. This would be particularly prominent in a highly social classroom. They do not mean for this to be disturbing, but they need it in order to stay calm. It is therefore best if you educate the rest of the classroom on this behavior and make an effort to make the classroom an inviting place for all of its participants.
They avoid eye contact: Many autistics avoid eye contact because it is threatening to them. In fact, it activates threat centers in the brain when an autistic individual does make eye contact. Therefore, do not be offended if these children do not make eye contact. They are most likely still paying attention but it is uncomfortable for them to look directly at you.
They learn in many different ways: Each child is unique whether they are autistic or not. It is important to realize that each child may have a different learning style and it is your job, as their teacher, to seek this style out and utilize it to the best advantage.