Answer: People on the autism spectrum tend to learn best using visual supports rather than through auditory input. Seeing it, rather than saying it, helps the person retain and process information. Temple Grandin, the most famous woman in the world with autism, describes being a visual thinker in her excellent book Thinking in Pictures.
The start of a new school year is on most people’s minds these days. Everyone wants to start the year off right. Teachers may find the School Community Toolkit a helpful resource to learn more about autism, inclusion, educating classmates, the rights of students with autism, instructional methods in teaching students, assistive technologies, therapies used, and ideas for a team approach. There is also an All About Me form for parents and caregivers to use about introducing their child to school staff. Another great All About Me form to be used for school or community activities can be found here.
There was a great UK blog post this past month from Carole Rutherford on classroom sensory scripts. This covers physical aspects of the classroom, a new teacher, unfamiliar fixtures and fittings in the new classroom, and much more. “Going into a new classroom with a new teacher can be difficult for every child. But when you add all of the sensory scripting that a child with autism has to add to the things they are expected to learn each day, it is not surprising that many of our children suffer from anxiety and stress on a daily basis, day in and day out.”
There are many treatment options and teaching strategies in the field of autism spectrum disorders which assume that something must be changed about the person with ASD: their behavior, their responses, their thoughts, or their communication skills. The intent of this article is to introduce a broader, more inclusive, and possibly courageous, approach. We begin by first acknowledging that with the autism spectrum comes a different style of communication – different from the widespread style of communication that most (non-autistic) people are familiar with and unconsciously expect. Then consider the idea that miscommunication and misunderstanding often result from a mismatched style of communicating – and finally, that all of us are responsible when desiring improved communication.
Students with autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, PDD and other diagnoses that fall within the autism spectrum experience significant challenges in communication and social skills. In addition, they may demonstrate behavior challenges that can prevent successful participation in school and family activities.
As part of a qualitative methodology course at the University of Ottawa in the Faculty of Education, graduate students were invited to conduct a “pilot research study” employing one of the five traditions of inquiry identified by Creswell (1998). Struck by the phenomenological approach, I chose an “incident” of interest to me – the case of a boy with Asperger’s syndrome who had used a ventriloquist’s puppet to communicate in an unusual way with his family, friends and ultimately – himself.