autism & academics njcec

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  • Autism and Academics

    Presented by:Karen Umstead, M.Ed, B.C.B.ABeautiful Minds of PrincetonTeach, Reach, & Expand *

  • IntroductionsWho am IWho are youWhat are we covering today*

  • Social InteractionPoor eye contactAwkward body positions/walkLooking at an object rather than pointingNot interested in making friends or interacting with people their own ageExisting in their own worldLack of interest in others or world around themYou say How are you? and then they do not respond or after answering do not reciprocate asking how you are


  • CommunicationNonverbal, making only grunts or noisesUnable to start a conversationDoes not understand the give and take involved with conversing with someoneRepeating commercials, movies, or what you just said to them; answer to how are you? is always fineDoesnt play kitchen/ house or with dolls/carsDifficulty with turn-taking, lack of imagination*

  • Stereotypic BehaviorsAlways talking about shoes, rubber bands, dinosaurs etc Throws tantrum if a different route is taken home, store, school, Always has to have book bag in specific place or sit in same seatRepeated hand-flapping, spinning, rocking, etcRather than play with car, plays only with wheels, spinning themTakes an object and uses it so twist/spin rather than its given function (e.g. taking drumstick and turning it in fingers in a circle rather than hitting drum with it)


  • Comprehensible/StructuredLearning EnvironmentsProgram is structured when: the curriculum (activities, schedule, environment) is clear (i.e., comprehensible) to both the students and the educational personnel.Comprehensible classroom (ASD):is arranged in such a way as to elicit, facilitate, enhance, or support the acquisition of specific skills such as language acquisition, appropriate behavior, social interactions, and targeted academic goals*

  • Comprehensible/StructuredLearning EnvironmentsA comprehensible environment allows a studentwith ASD (and others) to:predict what is currently happening within the learning process and what will happen nextanticipate requirements of specific settingslearn and generalize a variety of skills*

  • Structuring the environment (examples)Visual cues or supports that:Organize the instructional settingProvide a schedule of activitiesCarefully plan and provide choice making opportunities Provide behavioral support Define specific areas of the classroom and school settings Provide temporal relations (where things are in time or sequence)Facilitate transitions, flexibility, and change


  • *Task AnalysisBreaking down a task into smaller components

    What are the steps required to complete a task?Be specific.

    The idea here is that another person could:Pick up your task analysis Perform it as written Successfully complete it.

  •*Task AnalysisExample: Unpacking:Walk in doorGo to cubbyTake off backpackOpen backpackTake out snackPut snack in deskHang up backpack & coat (if wearing one)Sit down at desk

    Example: Writers WorkshopWrite your name on paperThink about topic for 1 minDraw what you want to writeWrite introductory sentenceWrite 3 describing sentencesWrite conclusion sentencePut in writing folderGet book to read until writers workshop is done

    BMOP 2011

  • *Visual StrategiesActivity/Picture SchedulesChecklistsPair hand gestures/visual with verbalTry to get the child to notice what other students are doing and follow their lead.

  • *Picture/Activity Schedules

    A.J. Morning To Do List


    Sit at my seat and begin my work

    Read Morning Message

    Gather Materials

    Unpack my backpack


  • beautifulminds@comcast.netwww.beautifulmindsofprinceton.comDo you know all of these words?

    a ofstudentcorrectoncethe discriminatedplacethreeeconomyprimarytokenfieldputusedfixedratiowasinreinforcementwithintoreinforcersobjectschedule

  • Do you understand this passage?Once a fixed ratio schedule of reinforcement was put into place, the student discriminated the correct object in a field of three. A token economy was used with primary reinforcers.

  • Language Arts (Reading/Writing)Strengths:DecodingReading aloudAnswering who, what, where, when questionsBasic recallFollowing rules (i before e except after c)Using visual cues (photos)RepetitionSpelling

    Weaknesses:Abstract conceptsIdioms or figurative languageUnderstanding exceptions to the ruleUnderstanding a different point of view (perspective-taking)Reading ComprehensionSummarizing

    This is not an exhaustive list and each child has different strengths and weaknesses.*

  • Language Arts (Reading/Writing)VISUAL VISUAL VISUALAnaphoric cueingCloze ExercisesSentence startersChoicesGraphic organizersVocabulary Journal*

  • Language Arts (Reading/Writing)Anaphoric cueing:Anaphoric items refer to a previous reference (most common use is pronouns). Prompt students to label ite.g. Wash six apples. Put THEM in a flat dish. ( six apples
  • Language Arts (Reading/Writing)Sentence starters: On my way to the zoo, I ..Choices: (topic Halloween)Do you want to write about a pumpkin or a costume?Does the pumpkin go trick or treating or does it sit on the porch?*

  • Language ArtsAllow student to highlight text (using highlighting tape, highlighter etc), possibly coding readingWhen possible, allow students to choose reading materials, possibly in special interest areasProvide choices for responses, responding, or writing (e.g. dog or cat, pencil or pen, draw or write)If students have difficulty understanding fiction, it may be helpful to tie it into movies they may have seen or their area of special interest (e.g. Cat in the Hat talks in story, but cats dont talk in real life)


  • Please write a sentence for each picture below From: BMOP 2011*

  • Vocabulary BuildingMake the figurative more concrete.Watch your use of idiomsCreate a vocabulary journal:Students write down words/phrase they dont understandHave them look up the meaning or ask others to explain itHave them illustrate the idiom.


  • Example:*

  • Breaking down words/sentencesConsider sight words vs. phonics (e.g. Edmark)Break down the individual phonemes of a wordConsider combining with picturesCould have visuals of persons mouth as they pronounce each part of the word/sentenceConsider incorporating discrete trial instruction of phonemes/rhyming words, etc

    * BMOP

  • Syntax Flip BooksUse a loose leaf binderCan chose to use pictures to accompany parts of sentenceEach element can be flipped independently of one anotherCan incorporate a fill-in Can color code if you like

    * BMOP

  • Breaking up sentencesCan use color coding to show different parts

    Can use caterpillar organizer to illustrate different segments of a sentence* BMOP

  • Advanced Organizers Give student list of questions to consider before reading a passageMay want to make a place for student to: Write down answers or page numbers as they read Any questions they have*

  • Graphic OrganizersVisual symbols are quickly and easily recognized; Minimum use of text makes it easy to scan for a word, phrase, or the general idea; and Visual representation allows for development of a holistic understanding that words alone cannot convey. *

  • *Examples

    Graphing Various Types of Conceptual Relationships

    Graphic Type

    Relationships of ideas appropriate to this type graphic



    Social Science




    (for a concept)




    Characteristics of cubism in art

    Attributes of the demand curve in economics

    Attributes of sun spots in astronomy


    (for hierarchies)






    Family tree of the Tudor Monarchy in England

    Organization of the White House staff

    Classes of isotopes in chemistry


    (for similar concepts)




    Comparison of imagery in poems by Anne Sexton

    Comparison of the Viet Nam war to the 1988 war in the Persian Gulf

    Comparison of planets of the solar system

    From: "Learning across the curriculum with creative graphing", by Linda Lee Johnson, The Reading Teacher, International Reading Association, 1990.

  • *Examples

    Graphing Various Types of Conceptual Relationships

    Graphic Type

    Relationships of ideas appropriate to this type graphic



    Social Science



    Chain (for changes over time)





    Plot sequence of a novel

    Stages of Piaget's theory of cognitive development

    Process of cell division


    (for visualizing a description)

    Physical structures

    Descriptions of places

    Space relations

    Concrete objects

    Visual images

    Description of the Elizabethan stage set in a drama

    Description of a complex apparatus for studying eye movements in reading

    The structure of the epidermis and dermis, the two layers of skin

    From: "Learning across the curriculum with creative graphing", by Linda Lee Johnson, The