Autism Spectrum Disorder


What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by:

  1. Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts;
  2. Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities;
  3. Symptoms must be present in the early developmental period (typically recognized in the first two years of life); and,
  4. Symptoms cause clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of current functioning

Causes and Symptoms

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the causes of Autism Spectrum Disorder are unknown but scientist believe that a combination of genetic and environmental aspects could lead to the disorder. Researchers are looking into Fragile X syndrome and tuberous sclerosis as genetic factors that could lead to ASD. Environmental aspects are also being researched to see if there is any one thing that could lead to ASD.

The symptoms of ASD can be different in each child but they generally fall into to two categories:

  1. Social impairment, including difficulties with social communication
  2. Repetitive and stereotyped behaviors.

Teaching Strategies for Students with ASD

When preparing for students with ASD a few factors need to be addressed when it comes to the classroom. These students may be unable to communicate, and instructions should be short, simple and direct. These instructions should have verbal and visual cues to ensure understanding. The classroom itself should be arranged in a way that it is conducive to the learning needs of the student and should include visual supports and cues (Project IDEAL). Students should also be provided with assistive technology that will enhance their communication with peers as well as their teacher.

Here is a list of tips and strategies:

Use Task Analysis-very specific tasks in sequential order

Teach specific social rules and skills, such as taking turns and social distance

Give fewer choices, the more choices the more confused a child with autism will become

Use various means of presentation- visual, physical guidance, peer modeling

Avoid over stimulation

Role play/model situations so the students can see instead of being told

Foreshadow changes in Schedules

Match student work time to their performance time

Use alternatives to writing in order to demonstrate competence

Schedule in down time

Maintain structure.

These are just a few strategies that can be used to make the classroom a more conducive environment for students with ASD.


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