View the movie below and then proceed to the Initial Thoughts section (time: 4:01).
In the first module in this series, Autism Spectrum Disorder: An Overview for Educators, we introduced you to four young people: Drew, Jaquese, David, and Michelle. Each has different strengths and faces different challenges. Let’s look in again now to see how each of them is doing.
Recall that four-year-old Drew prefers to spend his free time playing by himself and throws tantrums when his teacher attempts to redirect him. Though his teacher has had some recent success in increasing Drew’s participation in group activities, he frequently lapses into his former behaviors, especially during activities like dramatic play where he is required to more directly interact with his peers.
Ten-year-old Jaquese loves math and science but struggles with reading comprehension. His obsession with super hero stories both impedes classroom instruction and isolates Jaquese from his peers. Over the past months, Jaquese has improved his reading skills, though he tends to do better when he is reading something he likes. For non-preferred subjects, for example social studies, he has a more difficult time and sometimes attempts to avoid his class work by yelling out some of his favorite super hero catch-phrases like “Shazam!” or “Up, up, and away!”
Two-and-a-half-year-old David avoids other children, preferring instead to play by himself and in his own unique way. His issues with communication often cause him to throw tantrums or to hurl his toys. When we saw him last, David was learning the Picture Exchange Communication System, or PECS, though he had only begun to do so. Now that he has had more time with PECS, David’s communication skills have increased. He is better able to communicate with his parents and teachers. However, David continues to prefer to play by himself, and he struggles to express more complicated wants or needs, which sometimes causes him to act out. More, David’s tendency to avoid foods with textures he does not like has continued.
Lastly, there’s Michelle, a bright and funny fifteen-year-old tenth grader with a good memory and a fondness for subjects related to outer space. Though she’s outgoing and friendly, Michelle has difficulty organizing her time and classroom assignments. With some instruction and help from her parents, Michelle has improved her organizational skills, and she has even been able to join her school’s science club. However, this increased interaction has made Michelle’s awkward social behaviors more obvious than ever with her peers. She continues to struggle with conversation cues, she often makes her peers uncomfortable by violating their personal space, and when seated she rocks distractingly back and forth.
Each of these four students has made improvements since we saw them last. However, their teachers and families know that there is even more improvement to be made. However, there is a lot of information online about autism, both reliable and unreliable. They want to make sure they are using evidence-based practices, or EBPs, but are unsure of where to begin.
Here is your Challenge…
What do educators need to know about EBPs for children with autism?
- What do educators need to know about EBPs for children with autism?
- What specific strategies can improve outcomes for these children?