A Guide for Families and Educators

When School Is Closed: Supporting Children with Autism at Home

In this guide for parents and educators of children with autism, you'll find resources to help support literacy and social and emotional issues at home. You'll also find information for special services providers and online courses for families and educators.

Resources and information that you'll find here

Guides and toolkits

Supporting Individuals with Autism through Uncertain Times

This toolkit that provides user-friendly, evidence-based resources for people supporting individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The focus is on these seven strategies: 

  1. Support understanding
  2. Offer opportunities for expression
  3. Prioritize coping and calming skill
  4. Maintain routine
  5. Build new routines
  6. Foster connections (from a distance)
  7. Be aware of changing behaviors

The toolkit was developed by experts from the UNC Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, the UNC School of Education, and the UNC School of Medicine's Department of Allied Health Sciences. Also available in Spanish and eight other languages.

Coping during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Yale's Guide for Families with Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

A comprehensive guidebook that includes a collection of helpful, targeted resources for parents, from the Yale Child Study Center.

The Backpack Connection Series

The Backpack Connection Series provides a way for teachers and parents/caregivers to work together to help young children develop social emotional skills and reduce challenging behavior. The series includes handouts in four categories: addressing behavior; emotions; routines and schedules; and social skills. Created by the Technical Assistance Center for Social Emotional Intervention (TACSEI) and available in English and Spanish.

Supporting literacy at home

Teachers and parents can adapt the ideas from these articles to keep kids listening to read alouds, reading independently, and thinking and talking about what they've read.

Using Fascinations to Teach and Challenge
In this video, you'll learn how to take a child’s passion — be it calendars, vacuum cleaners, superheroes, dolphins, detectives, or Ozzy Osbourne — and turn it into a learning support.

Inclusive Literacy Learning
With careful and creative planning, literacy instruction can be adapted to meet the needs of every child. Five ways teachers can provide a literacy education for all learners are offered here.

Supporting the Literacy Development of Students with Autism
Some students identified with autism can participate successfully in whole-class rich literacy experiences, with the right kind of support. Learn about strategies for designing lessons that are appropriate, engaging, and challenging for every learner in the inclusive classroom.

Tell Me About the Story: Comprehension Strategies for Students with Autism
Reading comprehension is often a concern for the teachers of students with autism. The comprehension strategies described in this article may help some students gain comprehension skills and improve their ability to read and communicate about written material.

Do You See What I Mean? Visual Literacy Supports
Visual learners and are best able to understand and remember content when they can see it represented in some way; in other words, they need to “see what we mean.” Three visual supports helpful for teaching and supporting literacy development are described here: picture books, graphic notes, and story kits.

20 Ways to Adapt the Read Aloud in the Inclusive Classroom
These suggestions can work for kids who need to fidget during whole-class instruction, those who need materials to keep focused, and those who require alternative ways of demonstrating attention, engagement, and interest.

Supporting social and emotional issues at home

Apps for Children with Autism and Aspergers

Well-designed and carefully-chosen apps can support the emotional, communication, organizational, and social needs of kids with autism or Aspergers. We selected a wide range of apps, based on reviews from organizations including Common Sense Media and the Center for Technology and Disability.

Autism and the Coronavirus: Resources for Families

During the coronavirus crisis, many families who have children with autism spectrum disorder are coping with the suspension of both school and essential services. Additionally, children with autism often have difficulty adjusting to disruption of their routine and environment. The Child Mind Institute’s Autism Center understands the challenges families are facing, and offers resources to help parents and other caregivers support children with autism during this time.

COVID-19 Visuals and Social Narratives (Indiana Resource Center for Autism)

See all IRCA visuals and social stories here.

For special services providers

Behavioral therapists 

Speech-language pathologists

The following resources are provided by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

Online courses for families

COVID-19 Virtual Outreach Series

A series of training videos for parents about coping with COVID-19 in the home, developed by the Cincinnati Children's Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics Department.

Visual Supports and Strategies

Children with autism are often visual learners. This course goes step by step through one of the most vital strategies available to support your child. Learn about visual supports and some examples of types of visual supports for free, how to make them, and how to use them. Find web resources and more in this free course from autism expert Dr. Sylvia Diehl.

Autism Navigator How-To Guide for Families

This interactive web-based course is for families who suspect their toddler has autism or a social communication delay. The program teaches families how to embed strategies and supports into their everyday activities, provides developmental growth charts to help families recognize and monitor meaningful outcomes, and offers a deep video library to illustrate how to promote learning and development for toddlers with ASD.

Online courses for educators

Autism Navigator for Classroom Success in PreK to 2nd Grade 

A self-paced 15 to 20 hour online professional development course with interactive slides and practical video examples. It is designed to increase the capacity of preschool, kindergarten, first and second grade teachers, special educators, therapists, special area teachers, and school staff to support children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the classroom and school environment. This course presents an overview of how the unique characteristics of autism may impact a child’s school experience and offers an evidence-based framework for supporting active engagement and positive behavior in a variety of settings and teaching contexts. The content will enable teachers to support students with the materials and activities already available in the classroom.

Reading Rockets (2020)


You are welcome to print copies for non-commercial use, or a limited number for educational purposes, as long as credit is given to Reading Rockets and the author(s). For commercial use, please contact the author or publisher listed.

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"Let us remember: one book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world." —

Malala Yousafzei