Autism Teaching Tips

Tips for teaching students with Autism

Adapted from an article by Susan Moreno and Carol O'Neal (O.A.S.I.S)

1. People with autism may have trouble with organizational skills

  • Even a "Straight - A" autistic student with photographic memory can be incapable of remembering to bring a pencil to class or remembering a deadline for an assignment
  • Strategies to help could include having the student use pictures as visual reminders in their locker or on their binders and lists of due dates taped to the inside of their texts or lockers
  • Take care to NOT denigrate or continue to question them as to why they keep forgetting things – a lecture about forgetfulness will not help matters and will most likely cause the student to believe he/she is incapable of remembering things
  • Use ABA techniques to specifically train your students in organizational skills using small, specific steps.

2. People with autism may have problems with abstract and conceptual thinking

  • Some students may acquire abstract skills but others never will.
  • When abstract theories are presented or used, try to use visual cues such as drawings, written words, or other visual media to augment the abstract idea.
  • Avoid asking vague questions like "Why did you do that?" Instead, say "I did not like it when you slammed your desk when I asked you to put your book away. Next time, put it down gently and tell me that you are angry."
  • Be as concrete as possible when dealing with your autistic students.

3. An increase in unusual or difficult behaviours most likely indicates an increase in stress

  • Sometimes, stress can be caused by a feeling of loss of control. Many times, the student can only relieve the stress they are feeling by removing themselves from the event or situation. Room 150 is set up to accommodate this – simply call

ext. 450 and an ERF will come to help

4. Do not take misbehaviour personally

  • Autistic people are generally not manipulative or scheming.
  • Usually, misbehaviour is the result of efforts to survive experiences which may be confusing, disorientating or frightening
  • Students with autism will have extreme difficulty reading non-verbal cues or reactions of others. Use verbal responses and cues when dialoguing with your students.

5. Use and interpret speech literally

  • Until you develop a rapport with your autistic students, you should avoid:

- Idioms (example - "Save your breath."  "Don't jump the gun.")
- Double meanings (most jokes have double entendre and the nuances might be  lost in translation)
- Sarcasm (example - "Don't worry. I'll clean up after you, all day long.")
- Nicknames