- A Brief Explanation of Discrete Trial Training
- Supporting Students with Asperger's Syndrome Who Present Behavioral Challenges
- Applied Behavior Analysis: A Focus on Outcomes
- A Challenge to Reframe our Thinking About Behavior
- Concerning Consequences: What Do I Do When...?
- Consequences, Behavior, and My Birds
- Don't Forget About Self Management
- Ever Had a Crisis Kind of Day?
- Movement Difference: A Closer Look at the Possibilities
- Movement Differences Among Some People with Autism: an Impetus to Re-Examine Behavioral Issues
- Observing Behavior Using A-B-C Data
- Positive Behavior Supports Creating Meaningful Life Options for People with ASD
- Ten Steps Towards Supporting Appropriate Behavior
- The Challenge of Combining Competing Input in the Classroom
- "Your Attitude Just Might Be My Biggest Barrier"
- Applied Behavior Analysis: The Role of Task Analysis and Chaining
- Tips for Choosing a Provider for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
- What to Consider When Looking for a Qualified ABA Provider
- Assessment Day: Questions About the Communication Development of Your Young Child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder
- “If They Could Only Tell Me What They Are Thinking.” The Need for Augmentative Communication for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Aiding Comprehension of Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders During One-on-One Interactions
- Can Social Pragmatic Skills Be Tested?
- Comprehension of the Message: Important Considerations for Following Directions
- First Steps and the Journey to a Diagnosis of ASD for a Child under Three
- Functional Categories of Delayed Echolalia
- Functional Categories of Immediate Echolalia
- Initial Guidelines for Developing a Communication Intervention Plan for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Significant Limitations in Communication Ability
- Long and Short Term Strategies for Reducing Specific Repetitive Questions
- Successfully Using PECS with Children with ASD
- Meeting the Challenge of Social Pragmatics with Students on the Autism Spectrum
- Opportunity to Communicate: A Crucial Aspect of Fostering Communication Development
- Reading with Your School-Age Child: Building Vocabulary One Word at a Time
- Social Communication and Language Characteristics Associated with High Functioning, Verbal Children and Adults with ASD
- The 21st Century Speech Language Pathologist and Integrated Services in Classrooms
- The High Functioning Person with an Autism Spectrum Disorder: A "Tourist" in His Native Country
- The Role of the School Speech Language Pathologist and the Student with Autism
- Using a Visual Support to Enhance WH Question
- Visual Resources for Enhancing Communication for Persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Disabilities
- Visual Schedules and Choice Boards: Avoid Misinterpretation of their Primary Functions
- Visual Supports: Sources for Symbols for Receptive and Expressive Communication
- What is the Picture Exchange Communication System or PECS?
- Articles - Communication
- Articles - Communication
- Articles - Communication
- Articles - Communication
- Articles - Communication
- Articles - Communication
- Articles - Communication
- PICO - A Decision Making Tool For Selecting Apps
- Helping Your Child to Develop Communication Skills
- Evidence-Based Practices for Effective Communication and Social Intervention
- Important Predictors
- The Use of Technology in Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Collaborative Teaming
- Educational Programming
- Academic Supports for College Students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Advice from Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder to Teachers Regarding Literacy Instruction
- Advice for Peer Tutors
- Applying the Ziggurat and CAPS Model in Your School District
- Aspects of Support for Learning
- A Young Adult's Guide to Deep Breathing as a Relaxation Technique: A Personalized Fact Sheet
- Can Schedule Usage Training Include Elements of Literacy Instruction?
- Clean Up Your Act! Creating an Organized Classroom Environment for Students on the Spectrum.
- Change is Good! Supporting Students on the Autism Spectrum when Introducing Novelty
- Classroom Choreography: The Art of Scheduling Staff and Students
- Creating a Circle of Support
- Complexities of Instructional Support
- Critical Features of Early Intervention: Merging Best Practices
- Developing Long Term Relationships Between School and Parents
- Early Intervention for Young Children on the Autism spectrum: Parent’s Perspective
- Educating Students with Autism: Are There Differences in Placement?
- Establishing Long Term Goals: What Are We Hoping to Achieve
- For General Education Teachers: Helpful Questions to Ask About Students with ASD
- Get Engaged: Designing Instructional Activities to Help Students Stay On-Task
- "Ham It Up and Get It Cookin!!" Thoughts From Dr. Greenspan
- Home-School Communication
- "I Can Do It Myself!" Using Work Systems to Build Independence in Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders
- “I Wake Up for MY Dream!” Personal Futures Planning Circles of Support, MAPS and PATH
- Life After High School...So Now What
- Literacy Resources
- Lovaas Revisited: Should We Have Ever Left?
- Making the Most of Morning Meeting
- Motivating Students Who Have Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Moving from Preschool to Kindergarten: Planning for a Successful Transition and New Relationships
- Peer Support Programs
- Promoting the Educational Success of Students with Autism: The Role of the Parent-Staff Relationship
- Planning for Successful Transitions Across Grade Levels
- Practical Steps to Writing Individualized Education Program (IEP) Goals: And Writing Them Well
- Practical Recommendations for Utilizing a Range of Instructional Approaches in General Education Settings
- Recognizing Different Types of Readers with ASD
- Reframing Our Thinking and Getting to Know the Child
- Restricted Repertoires in Autism and What We Can Do About It
- School Cultures that Support Students Across the Autism Spectrum
- Service Learning: Something to Think About
- Supporting Staff Using Coaching Model
- Supporting Students with Asperger's Syndrome
- Teaching Students Who Are Low-Functioning: Who Are They and What Should We Teach?
- Theory of Mind in Autism: Development, Implications, and Intervention
- There is No Place Called Inclusion
- The Road to Post-Secondary Education: Questions to Consider
- Tips for Teaching High-Functioning People with Autism
- Tips to Consider When Including a Student with ASD in Art, Music, or Physical Education
- Transition: Preparing for a Lifetime
- Transition to Middle School
- Transition Time: Helping Individuals on the Autism Spectrum Move Successfully from One Activity to Another
- Understanding the Design and Power of a Personal Schedule
- Using Visual Schedules: A Guide for Parents
- Who Are We Working for Anyway? Avoiding Personal Agendas at Meetings to Better Support Individuals Across the Autism Spectrum
- Structured Teaching Strategies: A Series
- Growing Up Together
- How to Open A Combination Lock/Locker
- Supporting Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders Through Postsecondary Transition
- Curriculum Materials and Programs for Individuals on the Autism Spectrum
- Implementation and Effectiveness of Using Video Self-Modeling with Students with ASD
- Video Self-Modeling How To and Examples
- Advocates: Qualities to Look for and Choosing the Correct One for YOU
- Considering an Overnight Camp Program for your Child on the Autism Spectrum?
- Finding or Starting a Support Group
- Making the Most of the Holidays for Your Family and Your Son/Daughter on the Autism Spectrum
- Selected Bibliography for Families of People within the Autism Spectrum
- Selected National Resources for Information on Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Selected Resources for Understanding and Supporting Siblings
- Setting the Stage for Parent-Professional Collaboration
- Siblings Perspectives: Some Guidelines for Parents
- What About the Dads?
- When Your Child is Diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder
- What to Do If You Suspect Your Son/Daughter Might Have an Autism Spectrum Disorder
- For Parents: Preparing for the School Year
- Self Help/Medical
- Teaching a Young Man to Shave
- An Introduction to Possible Biomedical Causes and Treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorders
- The "M" Word
- Mealtime and Children on the Autism Spectrum: Beyond Picky, Fussy, and Fads
- Good Night, Sleep Tight, and Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite:
- Taking Your Son/Daughter with an Autism Spectrum Disorder to the Dentist
- Teaching a Young Woman to Shave
- Anxiety and Panic Struggles
- Anxiety and Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Having THE Talk with Your Child with ASD
- General Information
- Assessment Processes for Autism Spectrum Disorders: Purpose and Procedures
- Autism Awareness Month: Facts and Tips for Working with Individuals on the Autism Spectrum
- Diagnostic Criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Diagnostic Criteria for Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder
- Disability Information for Someone who has an Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Customized Example
- Getting Started: Introducing Your Child to His or Her Diagnosis of Autism or Asperger Syndrome
- Increasing Incidence of Autism Spectrum Disorders Continues in Indiana
- Standardized Tests and Students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Article 7, Title 511
- What’s in a Name: Our Only Label Should Be Our Name: Avoiding the Stereotypes
- For Physicians: Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorders and Working with Schools
- Behavioral Issues and the Use of Social Stories
- How to “Lose the Training Wheels:” A New Way to Teach Bicycle Riding
- Living in Fear: Anxiety in Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Local Community Resources to Enhance Activities
- Making (and Keeping) Friends: A Model for Social Skills Instruction
- Making Camps Accessible for All
- Play in the Lives of Young Children with Autism
- Play Time: An Examination Of Play Intervention Strategies for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Social Activity Groups: Another Approach for Helping to Bridge the Friendship Gap
- Teaching Social Skills through Theatre
- The Collective Outcomes of School-Based Social Skill Interventions for Children on the Autism Spectrum
- The Value of Movement Activities for Young Children
- We All Need Exercise
- Finding a Friend in School
- Bullying and Students on the Autism Spectrum
- Incorporating Typical Peers Into the Social Learning of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Articles by Temple Grandin
- An Inside View of Autism
- Choosing the Right Job for People with Autism or Asperger's Syndrome
- Evaluating the Effects of Medication
- Genius May Be an Abnormality: Educating Students with Asperger's Syndrome, or High Functioning Autism
- Making the Transition from the World of School into the World of Work
- Social Problems: Understanding Emotions and Developing Talents
- Teaching Tips for Children and Adults with Autism
Educating Students with Autism: Are There Differences in Placement?
In 1997, family members and educators of middle school-aged students were surveyed to examine the various educational services, instructional strategies, and administrative supports which were in place to assist general and special educators in teaching students with autism. For example, educators were asked to rank their access to collaboration, paraprofessional support, planning time, external professional consultants, training and administrative support. Parents were questioned about their son/daughter's educational program, and to determine those factors which promoted their satisfaction.
As a result of survey responses, students with autism were categorized according to restrictiveness of placement. Students were determined as being in a less restrictive placement if their primary placement was a general education classroom, or if the majority of the school day was spent in a typical classroom setting. Students were classified as being in a more restrictive setting if their primary placement was a separate special education classroom, or if their only opportunities for interaction with nondisabled peers came during lunch, recess, music, art, physical education, or other non-structured events. Below are survey results which highlight the comments of family members.
Family members of students with autism in more restrictive settings reported higher levels of problem behaviors. It is unclear whether these behaviors resulted from the restrictiveness of the placement, or if students were placed in more restrictive settings because of the presence of challenging behaviors. Family members who had sons/daughters in less restrictive settings reported that they were more satisfied with staff's commitment to the education of their son/daughter, and that they were more satisfied with the academic progress of their son/daughter. Regardless of the placement, parents who were more satisfied with their son/daughter's education noted that staff had a greater ability to communicate with parents, exhibited a greater dedication to team work, and had a greater commitment to the education of their son/daughter with autism. In addition to these factors, parents noted the importance of assistance from external professional consultants as highlighted in the comments below.
"The school works wonderfully with my son and the suggestions from the outside have been helpful."
"The education system alone provides a minimum amount of support. A parent must be truly dedicated to work within the system and to find outside support."
Once specific students were identified, surveys were sent to general and special educators in hopes of determining the differences between more and less restrictive programs. For students who were in less restrictive settings, teachers reported a greater use of cooperative learning groups, peer mentors, peer training, external reinforcers, and behavior contracts. In addition to these factors, educators identified adequate planning time, access to external professional consultants, a strong belief in inclusion as an educational goal for students with autism, and administrators who support inclusion as critical. Because of their exposure to students with autism, general educators in less restrictive settings also noted greater comfort with educating these students.
For students in more restrictive settings, educators reported a greater use of written/visual schedules, community- based instruction, curriculum modifications and adaptations, augmentative communication, and sensory integration. Teachers in the more restrictive setting felt slightly more access to training events on autism, and believed that special education teachers were more qualified then general education teachers to work with students with autism.
While there was no difference between the more and less restrictive group in the use and perceived importance of adequate paraprofessional support, there was a concern voiced about the dependency students develop when this type of instructional support is used incorrectly. One general educator stated:
"She depends entirely on her aide, who accompanies her everywhere and they often leave the classroom. She never looks at me or the other children."
So What Does This Mean?
Clearly, schools differ in their philosophies concerning whether student's with autism belong in more or less restrictive settings. These differences did not always seem to be influenced by the perceived competencies or level of disability of students, but rather reflected a system's belief in the appropriate placement for students with autism. Therefore, it is important to realize the important role special education administrators play in determining placement options. Once in the general education setting, the support of the building level administrator is critical in setting a positive tone for involving students with autism. Likewise, the attitudes and beliefs of educators are vital in promoting students' membership and quality education. When placement decisions are made according to disability category of students rather then based on individual need, students can be placed in settings which are not appropriate or which limit their potential. These comments from parents reflect the difficulties that can occur:
"My child is having trouble dealing with the behaviors of the other children with disabilities. She is around these boys and has little or no opportunity to be around girls. This is one area we are trying to change for the better next year."
"She is verbal and yet until this year, I could not get her placed with other verbal kids."
Educators stated the importance of ongoing training and access to outside consultants as critical in promoting success. When outside consultants are used, their expertise should be used as part of a team process. While outside consultants may have a tremendous understanding of autism spectrum disorders and effective approaches, the individual's team best understands the individual student. And, as school districts develop their comprehensive systems of personnel development (CSPD) plans as outlined in federal law, strategies for training personnel to adopt effective strategies should be embedded within those plans. One educator stated:
"Even with a degree in special education, I feel I could use more information on autistic students and the differences in dealing with their disability. I know the general education teachers feel the same way."
While the need for a more practical and relevant curriculum was highlighted for students with autism, realize that the same criticism has been voiced on behalf of all students. Even when reflecting upon our own education, adults can point to those pieces of information which have been critical. Sadly, much of what many of us learned has not been necessary in our adult life. For students with and without autism, it is important to adopt a curriculum which truly prepares them for adulthood. In some instances, curricular options should involve opportunities to learn in the community. As one parent states:
"She receives A's and B's on her report card, and makes the honor roll. However, I believe much of what she does is irrelevant and almost never retained. I understand that to be "included" means to do typical work, and I definitely don't want her in special education...it's a Catch 22."
- Since many students with autism are visual learners, written and/or picture schedules and other systems of support are extremely helpful. Visually presented information allows students to rehearse, prepare for activities, and can lessen the anxiety that many students feel when activities shift.
- Students learn and exhibit knowledge in various ways. For many students, modifying and adapting the curriculum can enhance participation. Possible accommodations include the use of a personal computer for written products, calculators for math problems, increased time to complete assignments, and reduced/increased assignments. Again, consider the individual learning style of each student.
- All students need to clearly understand expectations. Instruction should be delivered in a positive manner which matches the individual's learning style. When expectations are not clearly articulated and when instruction is not delivered in a positive manner, students have the opportunity to perform incorrectly which results in a corrective mode of interaction and negative feedback.
- Many individuals across the autism spectrum experience difficulties in processing sensory information. Interspersing age and situation appropriate sensory activities can serve to calm and help to focus a student. These strategies do not have to be complex and time- consuming. Sometimes simply allowing students to run or walk around the building at various times of the day can satisfy sensory needs.
- With the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), school districts are now required to conduct functional behavioral assessments. This type of assessment is critical in steering our focus away from consequence-oriented approaches to examining factors which may promote the occurrence of problem behavior. The end goal of this process is teaching alternative behaviors and creating a positive learning environment.
Developing an effective program will require the use of multiple and proven approaches which should be chosen through ongoing collaboration among all involved in the individual's life. An important part of this team is the family. While educators interact with these students for a relatively short time in each person's life, family members have the ongoing and long-term role of ensuring that their son/daughter receives the best possible education. Throughout this process, it is important for parents to maintain their spirit and work. One family member told us:
"My expectations for my son academically may be unrealistic, but if expectations are too low, then he will never achieve."
Keep the Focus on Meaningful Outcomes
As family members and professionals choose educational options for their son/daughter with autism, remember to teach skills that lead to meaningful outcomes, and prepare individuals for real work and community participation. Even at a young age, discussion should focus on desired long-term outcomes. As program options are discussed, all involved should gather a broader perspective of the type of programming available by considering the rich history, research, and literature both inside and outside the field of autism. And finally, maintain a focus on the individuality and preferences of people with autism. In the end, one parent's comment provides an important perspective:
"This has been his most successful year. The transition to middle school was uneventful. My only concern remains the lack of friendship. However, it does not seem to bother him. As long as he has his windshield wiper collection, he is content."
Pratt, C. & Bellini, S. (1996). Educating students with autism: Are there differences in placement? The Reporter, 1(5), 8-10.