Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder

The essential features of Autism Spectrum Disorders are a group of conditions with similar symptoms characterized by problems with language, social communication, and repetitive or restrictive patterns of thought and behavior.

Characteristics may include: Impairment in social interaction

  • marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye to eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction
  • failure to develop pure relationships appropriate to developmental level
  • a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people
  • lack of social or emotional reciprocity

Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities

  • encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotypedand restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus
  • apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals
  • stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms
  • persistent preoccupation with parts of objects

Suggested classroom practices

  • Provide a syllabus with clear explanations of tasks and specific due dates.
  • Let students know in advance about changes in routine or expectations.
  • Try to be creative/flexible in requiring or assigning group work.
  • Create a rubric for assignments or projects
  • Realize that students may avoid eye contact.
  • Be aware that students may need to retreat from class or activity if it becomes too overwhelming.
  • Understand that students may prefer email to in-person interactions.
  • Discuss inappropriate classroom and interactive behavior with the student in a private and respectful manner, delineating if necessary the limits of acceptable conduct.
  • Be open to suggestions from the students about how to best accommodate their needs.

Possible recommended academic accommodations

This really varies according to individual students due to the wide range of ability levels, strengths, challenges, and if other disabilities exist. Some students require extended time on tests and testing in a room less distracting than the classroom.

For more information