It is key that explicit teaching methods are implemented with a consistent approach using core language and visual supports to highlight expectations when engaging near and on roads.
Promoting awareness of road safety rules for students with Autism
Road safety is an essential factor necessary for involvement in community life. Students are faced with complex road rules and regulations when they participate as pedestrians, as passengers in vehicles and on wheels when riding bicycles or scooters. They may find it difficult to recognise or judge the direction of sounds, speed and distance of moving vehicles. It is key that explicit teaching methods are implemented with a consistent approach using core language and visual supports to highlight expectations when engaging near and on roads. The general aim is that students recognise a road and will stop to ensure their safety regardless of whether they are accompanied by an adult or not. At Giant Steps, the key language used when at a road crossing is “stop, hold hands, wait, cross road.”
There are many factors to consider when teaching Road Safety to students with Autism. These include their level of comprehension and awareness of moving vehicles and the associated danger, their age and the appropriateness to hold hands or allow more independence when walking as well as how they understand visual information in their environment such as road signs. Some students may benefit from holding sensory items while walking such as apples, playdoh or headphones with music. Visual supports of ‘hold hands’ and video models are used before accessing the community to ensure the students understand their role when around roads and vehicles. Similar visual supports are used to outline the expectation of wearing a helmet when riding a bicycle or scooter and wearing a seatbelt when in a car. Students require consistent language, visuals and adult models to ensure they develop awareness about the risks associated with moving vehicles and roads.