Many students with Autism benefit from multisensory teaching strategies, such as writing words on sandpaper or in shaving cream. This is because the kinesthetic aspect helps students feel engaged and invested in their writing assignments.
Previous studies have used the McGurk paradigm to evaluate multisensory binding, in which participants bind incongruent auditory and visual speech stimuli into a unified percept. Findings from these studies have been conflicting.
Incorporate the Olfactory Sense
The sense of smell has a unique ability to evoke memories that are both emotional and vivid. Smelling a familiar scent can help people recall memories of happy or peaceful times, making it an important tool in the therapeutic arsenal.
Incorporating the sense of smell into virtual environments can enhance a user’s experience and increase their retention. For example, a study by Garcia-Ruiz et al. involved participants who read a web page on a specific topic with and without olfactory media in the form of a mint scent. The researchers found that the olfactory media significantly enhanced the learners’ enjoyment of the content, as well as their ability to remember it.
Additionally, a study by Zou et al. demonstrated that olfactory media can enhance the ability to recall information from a lecture presentation. This was achieved by dividing network lectures at two universities into sections, one of which was enhanced with olfactory media and the other was not. After this, the researchers asked the participants to answer five questions based on the content they had read. The researchers found that the participants were able to remember more of the information from the lecture that was accompanied by olfactory media than the other condition.
The combination of multiple sensory stimuli has been shown to improve learning for all students, including those with autism. Multisensory lessons help to ensure that all students receive the information they need in a way that will be most memorable and internalized.
Incorporate the Visual Sense
When students are exposed to multisensory lessons, they can make a stronger connection with the curriculum and are more likely to internalize it. This is especially true for children with autism who can find it difficult to learn by relying on primarily visual methods, such as reading or listening to information read aloud.
Teaching using a multisensory approach can help students with autism improve their vocabulary, decipher letters and words, and develop their fine motor skills for writing. For example, encouraging students to use a sensory tool like textured materials to build letters and words can help them engage their sense of touch while learning.
It is also a good idea to utilize visual strategies, like pictures and charts when teaching students. Visuals can help them focus and pay attention for longer periods of time. They can also help them to comprehend concepts that may be difficult for them to describe in their own words, such as the sky being blue.
The multisensory teaching method was developed by Dr. Samuel Terry Orton in the 1920s and is often referred to as the Orton-Gillingham approach. This technique teaches students alphabetic patterns and sight word vocabulary through auditory, visual, tactile, and kinesthetic inputs. For example, students hear letter sounds and see the pattern visually on flashcards while they trace them with their fingers. This method has been shown to be beneficial for students with dyslexia.
Incorporate the Auditory Sense
For students with sensory processing challenges, incorporating multisensory structured language with MSL tutor in Sydney can help them build a strong connection to the learning material. This is important for anyone who struggles to process visual information, and it’s especially helpful for autistic children who often have trouble with the frontal lobe of the brain (which helps us decode sound symbols into words) and the temporal lobe (which connects the different aspects of reading like sound discrimination and decoding).
The most popular way that multisensory techniques are implemented is through the use of Orton Gillingham-based programs such as Wilson’s Running Record System (WRS) and SMiLE. Both programs are step-by-step and utilize the visual, auditory, and kinesthetic/tactile senses in order to teach children to read.
Using visual, auditory, and tactile sensory materials in the same lesson can also help with the memory retention of learning materials. For example, when learning new letter sounds, students can trace letters on sandpaper, clay or shaving cream that has a texture to it. This tactile input reinforces the sound of the letter and the visual input of tracing a letter makes the shape stand out.
Similarly, when completing a kinesthetic activity, such as a total physical response storytelling exercise, the student can move around while they learn to make the sound of each word as it is said out loud. The kinesthetic input connects the sound to the movement of the body, which enhances the memory of the lesson.
Incorporate the Kinesthetic Sense
Students with autism have a preference for sensory predictability in their environments, and incorporating multisensory learning tools into lessons can help support this. A kinesthetic approach to learning involves stimulating multiple senses at the same time and can reinforce and strengthen concepts for memory and recall.
Creating a sensory-friendly environment and teaching students with the help of an autism tutor Sydney how to self-regulate their responses can help them remain focused and engaged during activities, such as writing. Using sensory integration strategies, such as visual schedules and aids, movement breaks and deep pressure through weighted blankets or vests can provide a safe and supportive environment for these students.
When teaching reading, it is important to incorporate multiple sensory aspects to promote the forming of strong connections in the brain, making it easier for students to understand and remember. This technique is not just for dyslexia learners – the concept of engaging multiple senses during learning is a crucial component of good, solid literacy instruction.
While many educators add auditory or visual multimedia to their lesson plans, a kinesthetic, tactile aspect is often overlooked. For example, students who are preparing to write can make botanical impressions with vegetable slices by pressing them into a cup of paint to create an exciting art piece! The sensory input engages the visual, olfactory, and tactile parts of the brain at the same time and helps to reinforce and strengthen the association between the sound, feel, and appearance of the letters.
Incorporating multisensory structured language approaches into education has proven to be a powerful tool in enhancing the learning experiences of students with autism. By tapping into the visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and olfactory senses, educators and tutors can create engaging and effective lessons that cater to diverse learning styles. As we strive to unlock the potential within every student, the synergy of these sensory-rich methods paves the way for a more inclusive and impactful educational journey for children with autism.