Mar 12, 2020
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Strategies for learning

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Strategies for learning and for social and emotional well-being for people on the Autism Spectrum

Ensure the person has some way of telling you what he or she wants or needs. In collaboration with family and speech-language pathologists, determine if augmentative or alternative communication supports need to be explored.

  • Provide information in visual forms, including written words, pictures, symbols or photos. Investigate software packages for graphic symbols.
  • Use pictures to illustrate important information, such as schedules, appropriate behavior, and location of materials.
  • If the person experiences echolalia (repetition of the speech of others), provide appropriate words that can be used instead.
  • Ensure that each task you give the person has a clear beginning and end, clear instructions, ample time for completion and a model or illustration to follow.
  • Break large tasks into small, discrete steps and teach and reinforce each step. Create a set of sequenced pictures illustrating the steps, if needed.
  • Structure tasks at an appropriate level for the person (e.g., where he or she can be successful 80 to 90% of the time).
  • Help the person become more independent by: giving choices, as much as possible
    • teaching skills in different settings to ensure understanding and generalization across environments
    • teaching functional life skills (e.g., dressing, grooming), if necessary.
  • Provide hands-on activities rather than paper and pencil tasks.
  • Use the person’s areas of interest in teaching new skills (e.g., if the person loves trains, get him or her to count trains to develop number skills).
  • Redirect attention if the person becomes overly focused on an area of interest.
  • Use a consistent, agreed-upon response to manage disruptive behaviors. Arrange for a more in-depth evaluation of behavior, if needed.
  • Label and organize personal belongings, classroom and household materials and the physical environment so that the person knows where things go and where activities occur.
  • Reduce distracting stimuli (e.g., wall decorations, the hum of fluorescent lights).
  • Cover or put away activities when they are not available to the person (e.g., computer). Present only the materials necessary for a task and remove any other items from the person’s work area.
  • Consider changes to the environment or specific tools to assist with the person’s sensory needs.

Strategies for social and emotional well-being

Engage the person and family in planning for transitions between grade levels, different schools, different activities, and life experiences.

  • Provide clear expectations, consistency, structure, and routine for the entire class. Rules should be specific, direct, written down and applied consistently.
  • Provide a schedule of daily and monthly activities to help with communication and to reduce anxiety. Keep to the same schedule, as much as possible.
  • Warn the person about changes (e.g., to the daily schedule, transitions from one activity or room to another) before they occur as changes often can upset a person with ASD.
  • Be aware of peer relationships and provide support and guidance, when necessary. Some people may be unaware or misunderstand incidental information and social nuances.
  • Use social stories to help explain and encourage appropriate behaviors in specific situations.
  • Explicitly teach and practice social skills, such as how to read body language and expressions. Use direct instruction paired with social stories, modeling and role-play.
  • Identify ways to increase positive behaviors, such as using material reinforcers (e.g., snack, preferred activity).
  • Provide increased supervision during free time (e.g., like playtime, recess).
  • Provide a separate space for breaks or regular physical movement breaks outside if needed.
Strategies for learning and for social and emotional well-being for people on the Autism Spectrum Ensure the person has some way of telling you what he or she wants or needs. In collaboration with family and speech-language pathologists, determine if augmentative or alternative communication supports need to be explored. Provide information in visual forms, including written words, pictures, symbols or photos. Investigate software packages for graphic symbols. Use pictures to illustrate important information, such as schedules, appropriate behavior, and location of materials. If the person experiences echolalia (repetition of the speech of others), provide appropriate words that can be used instead. Ensure that each task you give the person has a clear beginning and end, clear instructions, ample time for completion and a model or illustration to follow. Break large tasks into small, discrete steps and teach and reinforce each step. Create a set of sequenced pictures illustrating the steps, if needed. Structure tasks at an appropriate level for the person (e.g., where he or she can be successful 80 to 90% of the time). Help the person become more independent by: giving choices, as much as possible teaching skills in different settings to ensure understanding and generalization across environments teaching functional life skills (e.g., dressing, grooming), if necessary. Provide hands-on activities rather than paper and pencil tasks. Use the person’s areas of interest in teaching new skills (e.g., if the person loves trains, get him or her to count trains to develop number skills). Redirect attention if the person becomes overly focused on an area of interest. Use a consistent, agreed-upon response to manage disruptive behaviors. Arrange for a more in-depth evaluation of behavior, if needed. Label and organize personal belongings, classroom and household materials and the physical environment so that the person knows where things go and where activities occur. Reduce distracting stimuli (e.g., wall decorations, the hum of fluorescent lights). Cover or put away activities when they are not available to the person (e.g., computer). Present only the materials necessary for a task and remove any other items from the person’s work area. Consider changes to the environment or specific tools to assist with the person’s sensory needs. Strategies for social and emotional well-being Engage the person and family in planning for transitions between grade levels, different schools, different activities, and life experiences. Provide clear expectations, consistency, structure, and routine for the entire class. Rules should be specific, direct, written down and applied consistently. Provide a schedule of daily and monthly activities to help with communication and to reduce anxiety. Keep to the same schedule, as much as possible. Warn the person about changes (e.g., to the daily schedule, transitions from one activity or room to another) before they occur as changes often can upset a person with ASD. Be aware of peer relationships and provide support and guidance, when necessary. Some people may be unaware or misunderstand incidental information and social nuances. Use social stories to help explain and encourage appropriate behaviors in specific situations. Explicitly…

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