START K-12 Intensive Training

Educational Supports and Strategies for Students with Autism

Module # 4 held on January 9-10, 2019

The invaluable, informative two day module consisted of over 220 educators including General Education Teachers, Special Education Teachers, SLP's, Administrators, Behavior Specialists, Social Workers, Psychologists, Parents, TC's, Paraprofessionals and OT's!

Topics and activities covered included:

  • IDEA and educating students in the least restrictive environment (LRE)
  • Sensitivity awareness
  • Developing individualized differentiation plans
  • Presuming competence as a least dangerous assumption
  • Academics, differentiated output methods, grading
  • Hands on activities relating to curriculum differentiation and technology
Differentiation Tools and Strategies

Link to differentiated output hierarchy, caseload analysis plans and other materials related to differentiation.

Differentiation allows ALL students with ASD access to and the ability to engage in grade level learning. START has created examples of differentiation and has even differentiated HS curriculum including Algebra 2 and US History. Each team was given hard copies of curriculum already differentiated using one of the five levels of differentiation.

There are five levels in the differentiated output hierarchy:

Open Ended – Open-ended questions may be the most difficult for students receiving special education services. Many students who have trouble with written language skills or have trouble processing spoken language will not be able to answer open-ended questions as presented in the curriculum. If the student is having trouble with open-ended questions, it is the time to move through the differentiated output hierarchy.

Visual Organizational Strategies - Visual strategies should provide the student with a kick-start, which may assist the student in organizing the answer. For example, showing the student how many words or sentences are required to answer a question or complete a paragraph.

Closed Strategies - Closed strategies organize the student’s output within the curriculum. Closed strategies also narrow the depth of the curriculum and allow the student to utilize recognition skills versus recall skills to output the information.

Choice Strategies - Choice strategies provide the student with a visual method to recall the information. Choice strategies should be utilized in a combination with other hierarchy strategies.

Yes/No Strategies – Yes/No strategies change the format of an open-ended, multiple choice, etc. type question into a Yes/No format. The yes/no format requires the overlay of other hierarchy strategies. A Yes / No strategy may have to be taught to a student.


Research Article- The Dynamic Relationship Between Context, Curriculum, and Student Learning: A Case for Inclusive Education as a Research-Based Practice by Richard Jackson, Diane Ryndak, Michael Wehmeyer (2010)
START Website- valuable resources and information for educators and families

National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders-free professional resources for educators who work with individuals with Autism.

AFIRM Modules- FREE online professional learning for each of the 27 evidence-based practices for students with Autism.

MDE Family Matters- help sheets for families and educators from the MDE with information regarding LRE, IDEA, IEP Process and more. Help sheets are available in English, Spanish and Arabic.

SLP Resource- link to social/emotional skill sharing site.

Amazing Things Happen- link to a GREAT video about autism awareness!

Sexuality Across the Lifespan- link to resources for schools and families regarding teaching about puberty and sexuality.

Upcoming Modules

  • 2/5-2/6/2019 - Module 5: Peer to Peer Supports for Students with ASD
  • 3/6-3/7/2019 - Module 6: IEP Development and Implementation for Students with ASD
  • 5/9/2019 - Module 7: Transition Planning for Students with ASD

Administrator's Module (Principals, Supervisors, Directors)

Thursday, March 21*


*with an optional afternoon session