Education / Classroom

Education can be a challenge for those with ASD and their parents. This section includes topics like: back to school tips for parents and teachers; easy strategies for inclusive classrooms; and how to advocate for your child at school.

Back to School with Autism – Elation or Deflation?

Most parents have mixed feelings about sending their children back to school. The relaxed schedule of the summer is suddenly gone and evenings become hectic with homework, extra-curricular activities, making lunches and getting clothes ready for the next day. On the other hand, it can be a relief to get back into routines and a scheduled day. Most parents need a break from their children by the end of the summer.

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Story PALS: How Reading to a Dog Gave My Daughter a Voice

My daughter, Julia, and I discovered a public library program called Story PALS back in 2009. The program is designed for reluctant readers ages 6 – 12. A child comes to the library and reads aloud to a dog once a week to make them less anxious about reading aloud in front of people. The dogs come from an organization called…

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Gunilla Gerland: 5 Secrets to Success for Professionals in the Autism Field

While at the Autism Europe Conference, I had the great pleasure of listening to Swedish lecturer Gunilla Gerland  speak about being a professional in the autism field. Having grown up with Asperger Syndrome in an unsympathetic environment, she had great insights. She wrote a book called Secrets to Success for Professionals in the Autism Field. Gunilla talked about essential tools…

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How expanding interests helps those with ASD – The LILA Principle

Over the years, I have tried to expand my children’s interests to help them increase knowledge, keep their lives interesting, and to foster growth. This has also been an educational goal in both school and home therapy programs. My son Marc, now 19, has a great range of interests that has broadened beyond ceiling fans and Thomas the Tank Engine.…

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Tips To Teach Whole Body Listening: It’s a Tool Not a Rule

Adapted from an article by: Elizabeth Sautter, MA, CCC-SLP Phrases like “pay attention” and “listen carefully” ring out in classrooms across the country. Moms, dads, and other caregivers can be heard saying some version of these same words to children everywhere. Paying attention and listening to others are not only considered essential for social communication, but also for learning to be…

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It’s Time To Update Classroom Strategies For Those With ASD

September means back to school, transitions, and changes in routines. Judy Endow, an adult with autism, wrote a blog post about changing classroom strategies, asking us to alter the way we do things based on past knowledge in light of new information. This is good advice for all of us as autism is a relatively new field where knowledge is rapidly changing, challenging our long-held views which may no longer be applicable.

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Enhancing the Life of an Individual with ASD Through Music

A woman who worked with a nonverbal, visually impaired young man with autism asked me an interesting question. She was told the young man had low cognitive ability but when he heard music, he came alive. Sitting in his wheelchair, he would rock back and forth in time to the music and hum along to songs. When the music was no longer playing, he would hum the songs and everyone around him recognized the tunes. She was wondering if there was a way she could explore this connection to music in some way to enhance his life and maybe teach him some things too. As a classical musician and former music teacher, my response was an enthusiastic yes!

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How to Handle Your IEP/504 Meeting

School children with special needs have an IEP or IPP in order to choose appropriate educational goals and assessments. Parents are part of this process and should be working with teachers in creating their child’s IEP.

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Great Expectations – Starting the School Year Off Right

September is here which means the start of a new school year. Great expectations and high hopes abound. Maybe your child is going to a new school this year or attending school for the first time. Parents and children can feel both excited and anxious. How can you make this year a successful one? What is both reasonable and attainable this school year?

At Home

  • To make mornings a little less stressful, lay clothes out the night before, make lunches and check agendas for communication, forms etc.
  • If your child has trouble waking up, set the alarm 15 minutes earlier than needed to allow time to rise.
  • Post a visual schedule or checklist where your child can see it to know what needs to be done before leaving in the morning – bathroom routines, packing a backpack, dressing etc.
  • Be cautious about overscheduling with extra-curricular activities. For many children with ASD, it takes great energy to cope with the school day and down time can be needed after school. Look at alternative ideas such as one day events or weekend activities for things to do.
  • Decide if your child will do homework or not. If you decide to do homework, assign a quiet spot where it can be done and a regular time in the schedule.
  • Create some visual organizers for items that have to go back and forth to school. This could be a basket or bin by the front door.

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Back to School Tips for Parents and Teachers

As the new school year begins, many parents of students who have Autism Spectrum Disorders are filled with trepidation as they know this involves establishing a relationship with their child’s new teacher, as well as the development of routines of communication and interaction. Many parents worry about how much the teacher knows about Autism Spectrum Disorders. They wonder: How much training have they had? Will the teacher be patient? Will he or she like my child? Will everyone get along and agree on goals and expectations?

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Helpful Guidelines When Planning, Making and Using Visual Supports

A visual support can be anything that shows a student what to expect and/or what is expected on the student. The image itself may take any one or a combination of forms: objects, photographs, line drawings, printed words. The benefits of using visual supports with students with ASD are well established and can be obvious to even the casual observer in a classroom, home or community setting.

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Differentiating Instruction

Five Easy Strategies for Inclusive Classrooms

Many general educators believe that they need specialized strategies to teach students with disabilities. While it can be beneficial to know about certain types of disabilities before teaching students with labels, often teachers are effective when they are accepting, look for strengths in their students, provide personal attention when necessary, and allow for differences in the ways students approach tasks and complete classroom work.

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Factors That Impact Learning

Teaching students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be both puzzling and challenging. The big question most teachers ask – how do we create a meaningful curriculum for our students? Before we even think about planning curriculum, we have to look at factors that impact learning.

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Great Resources for Teachers

Educating children with autism can be a daunting task for teachers. Learning styles differ greatly with this population. Many ASD students have an IPP, need an adapted curriculum, and classroom accommodations. Social and communication difficulties can make group work difficult and inclusion a challenge. I was a teacher for 13 years and understand the demands and challenges of educating students on the autism spectrum. I’ve gathered a list of resources that I think would be helpful to teachers.

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