Paula Kluth is a great resource for working with students with Autism. Teachers I've worked with in the past have found her "You're Going to Love This Kid!" book to be a great first and effective place to start.
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Just like all students, students on the autism spectrum are unique and need differentiated instruction. Things I've found to be helpful for working with students on the autism spectrum are written instructions, a daily schedule with pictures and words so that students know what to expect, a quiet place for students to go to when they need a break, and constant communication with the students' families (they are the true experts!).
One thing at a time is a good plan for students with autism. Add one new thing at a time. For example, use a familiar task with new content. Or use familiar vocabulary in a new task. Avoid activities or tasks that have more than one new element.
I have an adult child on the autistic spectrum as well as having worked and observed teachers working with our special students. I agree, the daily schedule for our students is huge. For our little ones, that schedule may need to be broken down into 5,10, or even as small as 15 min. increments. A reward at the end of their accomplishment, as simple as a high 5 or fist punch, is positive reinforcement. At the end of an hour of focused work, not all on one subject, but some type of exercise for them is a stress reliever. They need physical activitty to meet their needs. Some need swinging, some need compression, they all have their own individual needs, and if they can't tell you, you just have to try different things. However, if you watch them closely, they will tell you one way or the other.
As these students get older, their needs don't go away, they just change, and like our kids without autism, they can go for longer periods of time before a break. These gains are as individual as the student, but don't be disappointed, their gains can be slow and over a long period of time, or one day they may make 9 mo. growth. Often our autisic students are more high intelligent than we give them credit. They are creative thinkers and often really good problem solvers. Many really like real world activities that tie into what they are learning. Research
Research Temple Grandin and watch the movie documentary on her life. She is amazing to listen to, at one of her oral presentations. It is enlightening. Hope this helps.
Like all learners, autistic students are variable and learn best from a supportive interaction with the environment. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) provides a framework for thinking about all learner variability that may be helpful for thinking about autism. Through consideration of lesson design and curricular supports for how information is represented, how individuals can act and express what they know, and how students can engage meaningfully with the content, UDL makes accessing challenging content possible for all individuals.
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