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What are some practical strategies for teachers in modifying an instructional curriculum for students with autism?

Expert answer

There are a lot of different ways to modify instruction. You can look at reducing the number of items that students have to do, you can think about simplifying, or you can think about having students work in a group. It depends on the content. For example, if a child is going to be doing math problems, do they really need to do all 30 math problems or can they just do a few of them?

Sometimes our folks need a little bit more time. Sometimes if they’re taking testing they may need to be in a quieter area.  So we just look at different kinds of accommodations for the individual child.

One of the things that kids with autism may have a hard time kind with is executive functioning. So if, for example, they are in junior high or high school and they move to one class to the next, having the ability to figure out what they need to have with them to move from one class to the next can be challenging, and they may be a bit slower.

Again, these are generalizations — some kids do really well. But I know of students who if they have to go from point A to point B to point C to point D in a school, it’s very difficult for them to then get to their locker and change out books. So we have to think of strategies to have books available in different locations so they don’t have to carry all 10 books with them the entire day.

And some of our kids will need different kinds of locks for lockers because they can’t open them very easily. It’s also really good for our kids to have a go-to person — someone they know that they can actually connect with if they’re feeling like they’re having a difficult time.

That person could be a social worker, it could be an administrator, and sometimes it’s the janitor. In our schools, we have been doing a lot of training. We have autism leaders in almost all of our special education districts, and our teachers know that there is someone that they can go to for support.

So that’s something that a principal should be thinking about — is there someone in this school who can be a reliable ally of children with autism?

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