What are some strategies for teaching autistics?
After receiving my ASD diagnosis around the age of two, my parents got me early intervention services. My early intervention services included all kinds of therapies, in which I received seven days a week. Evidence-based practices were applied, which helped me tremendously. Today, I apply evidence-based practices into my work as a paraprofessional for students with disabilities. I make sure to implement instructional strategies that are personalized to the student. There are three instructional strategies I used when working in early childhood with an individual with ASD: task analysis, modeling, and visual supports.
Task Analysis is an instructional strategy in which a complex skill or behavior is broken down into small, individual steps for a student to complete. Once a student masters one step of a complex skill or behavior, they can move onto the next step of a complex skill or behavior. This approach is effective because it teaches a student to learn through steps. For example, I recall teaching a student with ASD to wash their hands. The first step I taught them was to turn on the water from the faucet. By the last step, I taught them to dry their hands. After the student completes all of the steps, then they could eventually perform that complex skill independently. As demonstrated, task analysis is used to teach any kind of skill, from academic to daily life skills. The goal of task analysis is for a student to complete a complex skill or behavior independently by using the steps they were taught. The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder (n.d) explains that task analysis helps students with ASD become more independent by having a skill or behavior broken down into steps instead. This instructional strategy can be implemented in any setting, thus promoting generalization. In sum, task analysis is a step-by-step process that addresses all kinds of domains: behavior, communication, and social.
While using task analysis, modeling can be implemented during any of the steps, depending on the student. Modeling is an instructional strategy used to engage a student to perform a skill or behavior. The teacher describes the skill or behavior that is being taught. For instance, when I taught a student with ASD to wash their hands, I had to use modeling sometimes to show them how to perform a step of this complex skill, such as turning on the water by using the faucet. This approach is effective because students with ASD observe the teacher’s thought processes, and learn to imitate behaviors that encourage learning. Through modeling, it helps students apply new skills and behaviors into various environments. This instructional strategy is beneficial in many ways: promotes generalization of a student’s skills and behaviors, increases independence, builds a student’s confidence, and decreases a student’s errors. To sum up, modeling encourages learning through observations of skills and behaviors for students to perform.
In addition, visual supports is an instructional strategy used to help students process information that they are learning. Visual supports can include schedules, choice boards, checklists/organizers, visual behavior supports, and etc. For example, I worked with a student with ASD who was using a first/then visual, which shows a picture of the task that must be completed first and then another picture of a reward following the task. This visual behavior support teaches a student of what is expected of them to do now and what will happen next. This approach is effective because it teaches students skills across curriculum areas: social, communication, and behavior. Visual supports teaches students social skills, in order to apply them in their own social situations. Visual supports promote students to use alternative communication skills. Visual supports teaches students to cope with changes. All in all, visual supports helps teach a student various skills, from communication to behaviors.
In conclusion, three instructional strategies can be used to teach early childhood children with ASD: task analysis, visual supports, and modeling. These instructional strategies can be applied together at once or separated, depending on the skill or behavior being taught to the student with ASD. These instructional strategies are important to help a student with ASD grow as life-long learners.
So what kind of strategies have you used for teaching autistics? Share your thoughts in the comment’s section!
National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder. (n.d.). What are evidence-based practices? Retrieved from https://autismpdc.fpg.unc.edu/evidence-based-practices