AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER (ASD)
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) now includes what was formerly known as Asperger’s Disorder. Students with ASD have relatively normal language skills as well as average to above average intelligence. ASD directly impacts social skills and social interaction. Because students with ASD have difficulty expressing frustration or anxiety, this can result in behaviors that would typically be perceived as inappropriate. These behaviors are due to neurological differences. Students with ASD also have difficulty adapting to changes in routine and often are inflexible with their thinking.
- Insistence on sameness; may be overwhelmed by changes in routine
- Restricted social competence; may result in repetitive questioning
- Unusually strong narrow interest
- Poor motor coordination
- Difficulty with abstract reasoning
- Can become easily overwhelmed and cope with stress poorly
- Inattention: may become easily distracted, poor organizational skills
Suggested Instructional Strategies
- Provide a detailed course syllabus clearly noting exam and assignment due dates.
- Provide a detailed explanation of course assignments- understand that the student may request or require step by step instruction.
- Allow for scheduled breaks during long lecture sessions.
- Use visual supports during lecture where possible.
- Consider posting lecture notes or assisting the student with finding a peer notetaker. Allow some additional wait time when asking the student a question. The student may not be able to respond immediately.
- When group projects are a must, foster cooperation and partnership by assigning students to groups or encourage students to work in pairs. These students tend to be left out and have difficulty making social connections.
- Allow for the possibility of written assignments in lieu of oral presentations.
- Discuss appropriate classroom behavior with the student privately, directly outlining limits of acceptable behavior and reinforce positive behavior regularly.
If there has to be a change to the consistent pattern that was established, give advanced notice.
- For example, if there is a Set change, discuss ahead of time versus notifying in email just before classes start.
- If there is a change in classroom location, give advanced notice.
- Be calm, predictable, and matter-of-fact in interactions, and avoid discussion that requires the student to use abstract thinking or interpreting social cues.
- If student engages in repetitive questioning that interferes with classroom instruction, engage the student in developing individual strategies. Strategies may include suggesting that the student writes their questions for discussion after class. If this does not work, you may wish to incorporate a visual cue or signal as a reminder that they have asked enough questions for that class.
- Be flexible in your communications with the student. They may be more efficient with written communication (email) as compared to verbal discussions.
- If there are areas of concern or you wish to discuss strategy, consult with the student’s Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist.