Storybooks are commonly used as a tool to teach children as it is engaging, educational and effective. Through storybooks, children are able to learn and grow in different developmental aspects. Developmental aspects such as character building by learning morals, values and social skills, developing creativity and imagination, or even learning academic concepts such as numerals and literacy. There are different types of storybooks such as picture books, sensory storybooks, music books, interactive activity books and more. These storybooks are used with all kinds of children but in this article, we will be exploring the impact of storybooks on children with autism.
As an educator working with children with autism, more often than not, I find myself searching through the shelves of libraries to find the perfect storybooks to use during lessons. Children with autism need help to learn how to socialize, develop self-regulation skills such as managing and coping with emotions, and enhance daily functioning skills. Through using storybooks to teach these skills, it is a fun way to relay what we want them to learn instead of verbally telling them as storybooks contain pictures, colours, and words. It increases engagement level, and the possibility of the child to view situations from a third person’s perspective, and imagination.
Depending on the type of skill you want the child with autism to learn, there are selective storybooks that you can choose from. For example, if the child has sensory issues and you want him or her to learn alphabets or numbers, exploring books with textures and bright colours would help with learning. Storybooks can also help children with autism with daily functioning skills and getting through with different routines. For example, how to brush their teeth, get ready for school, or bedtime routines. For children who have difficulties in socializing, social storybooks would be a great resource to help them understand the things they can do and how it affects other people, during a social situation. There are different social situations that could be difficult for a child with autism to comprehend or behave in the right manner appropriately. For instances, during playtime with friends, the child might not know how to play with friends, how to ask for permission to borrow toys, how to use polite words, or how to initiate a conversation. Another area where social storybooks are extremely helpful is when the child with autism does not have the skills to regulate emotions well, which ends up with behaviours such as crying, throwing things or pushing friends. Social storybooks also teach the ways to deal with emotions such as what can you do when you are angry, scared, sad, etc. Socializing and self-regulation skills are to be taught hence, social storybooks are useful and impactful tools as they allow room for comprehension and even practicing such skills by role-playing with one another.
In addition, storybooks also can be used to teach character development in children with autism such as expressing care, empathy, love, being nice and well-mannered.
I hope this article gives you an insight of how useful storybooks are, not just with atypical children but also for children with autism. They are a great help to get them to internalize, interpret and most importantly understand concepts and skills that we want them to learn.
Written by Mabel.