EDU 372: Educational Psychology
Prof. Nancy Sweitzer
February 2, 2015
Meeting the Needs of Autistic Students
Teachers are faced with many obstacles when preparing to teach diverse students, but that task becomes even more challenging when faced with preparing to meet the needs of autistic students. “Autism is characterized by a substantive impairment in social interaction, language and communication and by a repertoire of deficient behaviours and activities demonstrated by children diagnosed with this condition (American Psychiatric Association, 1994)” (Coyle, & Cole, 2004). This paper will take these characteristics in mind, and review articles in order to find a suitable way to meet the needs of autistic students.
Literature Review How can one reach into the mind of an autistic student who may not be able to communicate their needs? In the article “A Review of Technology-Based Interventions to Teach Academic Skills to Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder”, it describes how technology has been used in instructing students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) for over 35 years (Knight, McKissick, & Saunders, 2013). It goes on to describe how the technology can “(a) benefit students with ASD due to their differences in attention and motivation from typically developing peers, (b) decrease stereotypic behaviors, (c) provide students with consistent feedback, and (d) increase language” (Knight, MsKissick, & Saunders, 2013). Although studies have shown the positive effects of autistic students using computer-assisted instruction (CAI), there are also arguments against this technology. According to the article there is no difference in the effects whether the student receives the information through technology or the actual teacher. The only positive from it suggests that it allows for more one on one time for the skills in learning because they can focus on one thing and be isolated from distracting noises. One of the most difficult problems faced when attempting to teach an autistic student is keeping them focused and on-task. The article “A videotaped self-modelling and self-monitoring treatment program to decrease off-task behavior in children with autism”, discusses a program where “only desired behaviours” were recorded and viewed by the child with autism in order to encourage a continued positive behavior (Coyle, & Cole, 2004, pg. 4, para.1). According to the article, studies indicated that this program was successful. It states: “Other have investigated the effects of self-management interventions on the on-task behavior of children with learning disabilities and reported large positive behavior gains (Maag, Reid & DiGangi, 1993; Reid & Harris, 1993; Rooney, Hallahan & Wills Lloyd, 1984)” (Coyle, & Cole, 2004, pg. 4, para. 3). This tactic would be a great way to encourage positive reinforcement in autistic students by allowing them to see firsthand the affects and benefits of their positive behavior. Even when students with autism are on-task, considering their characteristics, it is challenging for them to work in noisy, large groups. The article “Promoting Active Engagement in Small Group Learning Experiences for Students with Autism and Significant Learning Needs” describes the use of visual aids and music to promote positive social behavior when working in the classroom both individually and in small groups (Carrahan, Musti-Rao, & Bailey, 2009). It discusses how students with autism have a difficult time following verbal instruction, yet are able to understand a visual schedule. The students are prompted to check and follow their schedule which is in a visual format with images such as blocks to indicate time to work on motor skills using building blocks or food to indicate either lunch or snack time and a group of people to indicate working with a small group. The use of a visual schedule helps the student to remain on-task