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Autism Spectrum Disorders and Differentiated Instruction

written by: Barbara • edited by: Amanda Grove • updated: 7/12/2012

Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders can be extremely gifted and extremely deficient in academic and behavioral abilities. Autistic student's IEP (Individualized Education Plan) can range from minimal intervention to a whole spectrum of differentiated support and resource services.

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    Differntiating Instruction for Autistic Students

    Teachers may spend a lot of time managing students with autistic spectrum disorders in the classroom. Because the spectrum of disorders may range from PDD (pervasive development disorder), Asperger's syndrome to autistic behaviors, students may need minimal support to one-on-one Instructional Assistants (IA) during the school day.

    Autistic students may exhibit behavioral disorders that may result in excessive repetitive motions to compulsive obsessions that create social outcast situations and awkwardness in peer engagements. Students may have judgment impairments and cognitive deficiencies that result in diminished academic and behavioral skills. Teachers can provide differentiation instruction for students on the autism spectrum chart by creating the following techniques to develop their academic and behavioral skills.

    Differentiated Instruction

    • Teachers must have an accurate diagnosis of the students' autistic spectrum disorder in order to create effective differentiated instructional techniques.
    • Providing students with a consistent scheduling of activities and learning outcomes can keep a structure of learning expectations for the student to focus on in increasing skills and filling gaps of learning.
    • Effective management is key to dealing with students with behavioral disorders that impact their learning and others in the classroom. If students need an Instructional Assistant (IA) as designated by the IEP, make sure there is one assigned to be with the student in the class.
    • Create visual posters that show the learning objectives and allow students to create their own visual notebooks to show what they've learned. Have IA's construct checklists for students who are unable to engage fully in the learning process. Use transparencies on overheads to project the learning objectives in a larger format for students needing more academic support from visual mediums.
    • Modify the curriculum using the IEP to direct learning objectives. If one autistic student is reading at a 3rd grade level don't differentiate instruction to that level for all autistic students because autism spectrum disorders includes students who are gifted to those who are having difficulties in academic and social skills.
    • Believe in the whole student and remember that all students should be provided instruction that maximizes their capacity to learn and process information. All students can learn should be the teacher's goal in differentiating instruction that connects the student to the learning goals.

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