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"... the most important considerations in devising educational programs for children with autistic spectrum disorders have to do with recognition of the autism spectrum as a whole, with the concomitant implications for social, communicative, and behavioral development and learning, and with the understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the individual child across areas of development."
—Educating Children with Autism2001

Understanding Autism
Understanding Cognitive Differences

Executive Functioning
In their book, Late, Lost, and Unprepared: A Parents’ Guide to Helping Children with Executive Functioning, authors Joyce Cooper-Kahn and Laurie Dietzel describe executive functions as “a set of processes that all have to do with managing oneself and one’s resources in order to achieve a goal.” These are complex neurologically based processes that direct attention, behavioral planning, response inhibition, and the manipulation of information.
  • May need to have larger tasks broken into smaller ones that are modeled or taught directly
    • May be slow to develop age-appropriate self-help skills
    • May have difficulty following oral instructions
  • May need help organizing school work
  • May have difficulty starting an assignment or project, even one that appears relatively simple such as a worksheet
    • May need prompting
    • May resist starting homework
    • May desire adult assistance throughout completion of a task
  • May take longer to process information (slow processing speed)
    • May need extended time for tests or assignments
    • May need extra time for oral responses
  • May need help making a plan to complete a task
  • May have difficulty adapting when an idea or plan isn’t working
    • May get frustrated easily and give up quickly
  • May have difficulty transitioning from one activity to the next
    • May need access to a written daily schedule
    • May need a reminder when transition is approaching
  • May have difficulty maintaining attention
    • May have a strong desire to escape into her imagination
  • May have trouble controlling impulses
    • May say or do things without thinking about the consequences
  • May interrupt others frequently
    • May blurt out answers without waiting to be asked
  • May have difficulty monitoring his own behavior as compared with what is expected

Improving the educational experiences and outcomes of students on the autism spectrum in grades K-12

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