Course Outline for Teaching Students With Autism

Week 1

Lesson 1- Meet Your Students With Autism

You may have already taught students with high-functioning autism or Asperger's Syndrome, but have you taken the time to get to know them? Today we'll discover how their brains are wired differently, the ways they behave, and smart strategies to make the most of the opportunity to teach these kids.

Lesson 2- Understand the Common Characteristics of HFA/AS

Now that we've met our students, in this lesson we'll develop an understanding of the characteristics they often display in our classrooms. From trouble handling change to difficulty with social interaction, language processing, and distractions, we'll discover how these characteristics shape students' worldview and ability to perform in academic settings.

Week 2

Lesson 3- Discover How Your Students Think

Did you know that most students with high-functioning autism and Asperger's Syndrome are visual thinkers? Today we'll spend some time determining how these students process information so we can tailor our lesson plans to their preferred learning and thinking styles.

Lesson 4- Nurture Students' Social Skills

In this lesson, you'll discover how students with high-functioning autism and Asperger's Syndrome struggle socially. We'll talk about the extent of the problem, some of the causes, and its very real impact. Then we'll discuss some nonverbal and verbal exercises we can do in class to lessen these students' social anxiety.

Week 3

Lesson 5- Encourage Language Reciprocity

Today we'll explore how students with high-functioning autism and Asperger's Syndrome converse and why it's so incredibly hard for them to keep conversations going. Then we'll talk about a graphic organizer that is very helpful when students need to translate between their thoughts and ours. Finally, we'll cover how to write social stories that help kids understand what's expected of them.

Lesson 6- Work With Sensory Sensitivities

In this lesson, we're going to examine why students with high-functioning autism and Asperger's Syndrome have such delicate sensory sensitivities. Then we'll discuss two strategies for helping them reclaim control over daily experiences that once seemed quite intimidating. Both the strategies we'll discuss are visual ones, and they're wonderfully easy and effective.

Week 4

Lesson 7- Nurture Special Interests

Students with high-functioning autism or Asperger's Syndrome are often "little professors" who have highly specialized interests and fixations. How do we direct these gifts for math or language or science into appropriate academic channels? With visual strategies that help students link their interests to the broader world. You'll learn the strategies today!

Lesson 8- Encourage Homework Completion

This may just be your favorite lesson in the course! Every teacher I know is looking for new and exciting strategies to get students to do their homework. Today you'll learn how to engage students with high-functioning autism or Asperger's Syndrome in their studies and link their interests with meaningful learning.

Week 5

Lesson 9- Counter Runaway Emotions and Meltdowns

What if you had an emotional meltdown every single day? Would you be excited to get out of bed and do it all over again? Probably not. Many students with high-functioning autism or Asperger's Syndrome are prone to meltdowns and tantrums that derail their focus and take up precious classroom time. In this lesson, you'll learn how to turn these charged encounters into more positive learning experiences.

Lesson 10- Redirect Violent Fixations

No one likes to be teased! Sadly, many students with high-functioning autism or Asperger's Syndrome are bullied or made fun of on a daily basis. Because this makes them so fearful and frustrated, they often fixate on objects of power or violence—fixations that can have very serious consequences in today's world. Today we'll delve into how to channel these frustrations into more appropriate feelings.

Week 6

Lesson 11- Foster Attentiveness

Imagine what it would be like if your mind raced all the time, darting from thought to thought at warp speed. It would be pretty hard to pay attention to anything, wouldn't it? In this lesson, we'll look at ways to help students focus on our lessons and learn a little something in the process. Here's a hint: Visuals help!

Lesson 12- Plan for the Future

In our final lesson, we'll talk about smart ways to prepare students for life beyond our four walls. It's never too early to start thinking about ways to encourage students to reach their highest potential in future classes, jobs, and social roles. After all, isn't that why we chose to be teachers in the first place?

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What do others think?

‘I have to say this course is turning out to be wonderful for me! It has helped me to put words on the things I am seeing in and about this child who has been diagnosed Autistic.  I am using many of the strategies and suggestions to help him feel more at ease, less anxious(a personal agenda on his desk, a quiet area in the room where he can go when he feels the need) and more verbal with his classmates.  I am going to begin working on a couple Social Stories with him. I just love the information you are provided.’

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