Autism Support

  • Guiding Principles

    Each child has incredible strengths in learning. Some students may learn in a different way due to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Autism Spectrum Disorder reflects a complex pattern of neurodevelopment, characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties, sensory impact, and restricted/repeated/or stereotypic patterns of behavior. The impact of ASD may range from mild to significant. Every coin has two sides, and it is important to see each characteristic of ASD as both a challenge and an asset, depending on the circumstances.  
    According to Ellen Notbohm (2006), here are the ten things your student with autism wishes you knew:
    1. Learning is circular. We are all both teachers and students.
    2. We are a team. Success depends on all of us working together.
    3. I think differently. Teach me in a way that is meaningful to me.
    4. Behavior is communication: Yours, mine, and ours.
    5. Glitched, garbled and bewildered. If we can't communicate effectively, learning can't happen.
    6. Teach the whole me. I'm much more than a set of broken or missing parts.
    7. Be curious. Be very curious.
    8. Can I trust you?
    9. Believe.
    10. Teach me how to fish. See my future as a capable adult and hold that vision.
    Procedural Guidance
    • Think carefully through visual supports and schedules when developing the IEP.
    • Remember to keep the supports as embedded, normalized and age-appropriate as possible for each student.
    • As communication difference is a key feature of autism, the IEP team should consider the expertise and services of an SLP in developing the IEP.
    Autism FAQs

    What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

    ASD is a pattern of neurological development that affects how the child learns to use language and how the child learns to interact with people and the environment.

    Each case of autism can be placed along a continuum ranging from milder to more severe based on the level of functional skills in areas such as communication, cognitive abilities, social interactions, etc. Most specialists believe that the boundaries along the continuum are overlapping and indistinct. The term autism spectrum disorder is, therefore, used to describe a group of childhood developmental disorders that have similar behavioral features.

    What are some common characteristics of autism?

    Characteristics of autism include features in four areas: language, social interaction, repetitive or stereotypic patterns of behavior and sensory differences. Children with autism generally exhibit delayed language development, literal understanding of language, limited ability to make or sustain eye contact, limited skill in establishing social relationships, adherence to rigid routines and schedules, difficulty with shifting focus of attention, obsessive interests, difficulties with self-regulation, and atypical responses to sensory stimuli.

    If my child has a medical diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), will they automatically receive special education services under the category of ASD?

    No. Starting in January 2019, the eligibility requirements for ASD are more aligned with the requirements for a medical diagnosis of ASD (in the DSM-V). However, a student may still have a medical diagnosis of ASD, but not meet the criteria for school eligibility: based on social communication, repetitive/stereotypic patterns of behavior and sensory differences.

    A student may have a medical diagnosis of ASD but they may have developed coping strategies so that autism does not impact their academic performance or social communication in a school setting.

    In addition, a school-based eligibility team (including the parent) must determine whether the student requires specially designed instruction to access their grade-level curriculum.


    How should a teacher provide for a child with an ASD?

    Although we realize that each child with ASD presents a unique profile, we recognize certain environmental factors that facilitate their ability to learn in a classroom setting. Some of these elements include visual supports ( e.g. visual schedule, visual cuing), a predictable and stable daily routine for all aspects of the school day, preparation for change in activities or transitions and direct instruction in social skills and social thinking.