Autism Teaching Strategies

Before going through the autism teaching strategies described in this post, I would recommend that you gain an understanding of the various learning disabilities children with ADHD and autism face. It is important to acknowledge that every autistic child have different requirements and deserves special attention.

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Key Autism Teaching Strategies

The following table highlights some of the key strategies for teaching children with autism. This section of the post is generic and may be applied to most children with high functioning autism. The next section will give you certain insights on how to customize your teaching plan to suit the special needs to your special child:

Not doing homework Disorganization, forgetfulness Written agenda or notebook signed by teacher and parent, student fills in the homework to be completed, teacher signs, parent signs when homework is complete
Forgets assignments Disorganization, forgetfulness Have teacher, and a fellow student’s email and phone number to call or email if an assignment is in question. Record homework assignment on a recorder or phone.
Forgets books Disorganization, forgetfulness Speak to the teacher and request either a used copy of the book or see if you can purchase an extra set of books to have at home.
Forgets to turn in homework Forgetfulness, hiding what they did not do Speak with the teacher and make a plan so that homework is handed directly to the teacher as the child arrives at school
Too Much Homework This depends on the attention span of the child Speak to the teacher to find out what is the normal amount and time it should be completed in. If your child cannot complete the assignment in that amount of time, discuss with the teacher a modification in the assignment.
No Medication in system when time for homework Medication runs out or wears off Try to schedule medications to fit with not only the family lifestyle but school and homework time. If your child needs medication when they return home, give medication immediately, have a snack and/or a small break and then begin homework. Don’t let it be an excuse
Failing tests Lack of recall memory Do not have your child study for hours prior to a test. Go over the test material once and then again in the morning. Ask the teacher if extra credit can be earned by completing a project to boost the test score. Remember recalling information is a big problem with ADHD/ADD and children with Autism
Refuses to do homework Oppositional defiance Instill a reward and consequence program for homework. Use the red choice green choice therapy technique.
Not enough time to complete tests Recall memory, disruptions Ask the teacher to place your child away from distractions while taking a test. Read how to increase attention span in children with ADHD
Forgetting long term projects Memory recall, disorganization, defiance Agenda’s or a homework notebook is essential. You as the parent must check what is due. Make a calendar for your Childs study area and put the project on the calendar.
Can’t copy from a board or take notes Fine motor skills, lack of concentration Ask for a scribe for your child to assist in taking notes. Ask the teacher if it would be possible to have an excellent note taker photocopy their notes for your child to study. Use a recording device.
Difficulty in transitioning Sense of time, looses focus All teachers should be aware of your child’s IEP which explains their condition. Providing a written schedule taped to the Childs desk or book will prompt them to watch the time.

Table 1: Most Effective Autism Teaching Strategies

How to Teach Autistic Children

As a teacher you can use some of these proven autism teaching strategies for most effective education for autism:

Use Visual References where possible

Fig 2: Use Visual References where possible

short and concise instructions

Fig 3: Short and concise instructions

Play-Acting - Autism Teaching Strategies

Fig 4: Play-Acting for better memory restoration

  • Usage of short (easy to remember) sentences and keywords
  • Improvise and Model what the child should say rather that asking direct questions
  • Observe and Record behavioral patterns – what ticks with them and what doesn’t
  • Try to focus on appropriate replacement behaviors
  • Break up activities into sequence of smaller steps
  • Introduce a reward system: Introduction -> Behavior -> Reward
  • Drive the Child’s interest to plan activities
  • Support oral actions with visual references: Repeat pairing of words with pictures / objects / routine activities

Using Customized Home Study Plan

Not everyone studies the same. I for one always preferred to study with music in the background and sitting on the floor(please refer to my article on floor activities for autistic children). Now this may sound like a distraction, having music in the background but it worked for me! Sitting on the floor allowed me to spread my wings! This allowed me to organize all my homework right in front of me. Now, in hindsight, I created my own world to study in. My very own selection of music and my way of laying out my homework had continued on even through college.

Fig 1: Autism Teaching Strategies

Fig 5: Autism Teaching Strategies on how to teach autistic children

Entering into an Agreement with your child

Listed below, I have come up with some questions that you can ask your child (who is of age to do homework) and try to come up with a plan that incorporates the way he or she wants to study. This is great for home because both of you have the plan and have agreed to it. However, your child’s teacher might find study time in school to be more strictly dictated. My advice is to speak with your child’s teacher and discuss the fact that these are your child’s preferences. During your discussion, highlight the fact that your child performs best when accommodating at least a few of his/her preferences.

  • When do you like to do homework?
  • After dinner _______
    After school and after a snack _____
    Before dinner just to get it done_______
    In the morning before school __________
    Something other than the above choices __________ WHEN __________
  • Who do you like to do homework with?
  • Alone _______
    Someone in the room but not helping me______
    With one of my friends _________
    With one of my parents _______
    With a tutor ________
    With someone else _________ WHO __________
  • Where do you like to do your homework?
  • In my room ______
    In the dining room or kitchen ______
    On my bed ______
    At a desk _______
    On the floor _____
    In the family or living room ________
    Some Other Place _________ WHERE __________
  • How long do you need before a short break?
  • 15 minutes______                               30 minutes _____
    45 minutes _____                               One hour _______
    One and a half hours ______  I NEED A BREAK OF  _____ minutes
  • How do you like to do your homework?
  • Laying on the floor __________          Sitting on the floor ______
    With music ___________                  In a quiet place_________
    Near a bright light __________          Only a little light_________
    Walking around thinking________ SOME OTHER WAY _________
  • How do you complete your homework and stay organized?
  • Have one book for school and one at home so I don’t have to remember to bring books home __________
    Plan what to do first ___________
    Color code my notebooks and folders _________
    Write down my homework in an agenda __________
    Call a friend to find out the homework __________
    Place all finished work in one place _________
    Some Other Method _________ WHAT __________
  • What helps you the most in remembering what you have learned?
  • Draw a picture __________
    Write a note ________
    Flash cards  ________
    Tape record the lesson _______
    Read your homework out loud  ________
    Use songs or rhymes to remember things________
    Make up my own way to remember_________ WHAT ___________

Breaking up a Complex Problem Statement

Children with autism spectrum disorder often have problems understanding complex set of instructions. You would see that your child would be much more receptive if you break up a problem statement into smaller components – each of which should have a unique answer. By splitting a complex problem into smaller tangible questions, your child would be able to address each question while you can help him/her organize those thoughts in the right order or priorities. Following is a great example on how you would split a mini project assignment for school:

How to teach autistic children

Fig 7: How to teach autistic children? Split a complex problem into smaller fragments.

As you can see, using these Autism teaching strategies can go a long way in educating your autistic child. Everyone is a unique person with their own unique ways of learning. Also read Autism in girls Vs Autism in boys as there are fundamental differences on how girls and boys handle situations. The best thing you can do is offer these questions as suggestions to your child and they set them in motion. You have control over how they do their homework.

2017-08-21T03:37:59+00:00 December 18th, 2014|Categories: RESOURCES, SCHOOLING & LEARNING, SHOWCASE, TOP|Tags: , |10 Comments


  1. Grace K. Soyinka May 22, 2017 at 2:01 am - Reply

    Thank you for this this information, please i do need your help. I’m a pottery teacher who recently has a group of children with autism to teach. I’ve never interacted with them before now. How do I start the class please?

  2. Jihun January 6, 2017 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    Thank you for your informations. I’m Korean and SLP. I teach many kids who has autism and one of kid is 40 months now. He can talk but when I show him some pictures then ask him like ‘what is he doing?’ kind of that but he didn’t answer me well he just sing songs a lot and didn’t listen my voice. He knows the answer but just didn’t other peoples voice. How can I help him to listen other peoples speak?

  3. erlinda p. nasol February 6, 2016 at 10:07 am - Reply

    I read your site and I am thankful of getting some ideas about dealing with autistic children..I am a retired teacher and currently working in a center for special children. I am handling language stimulation ,and mostly of my students are non verbal..I have a difficulty of handling my 1 non verbal who is 12 years old.. Could she have a chance to speak ?What are the possible therapy techniques to enhance this child to speak..

    • ashishb01 February 8, 2016 at 10:56 am - Reply

      Thanks a lot for your reply. I am glad you found this post helpful. As far as developing speech is concerned, AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) is one of the best known techniques, but it involves devices and apps. You can check out some of the AAC Apps here. On a very simple note, we have a list of 21 basic strategies to improve speech therapy for Autism. You may find it useful

  4. Tris January 20, 2016 at 2:12 am - Reply

    Thank you so much for this site. My daughter’s nephew who visits often is Autistic and I had no idea how to interact with him. He is such a pleasant and wonderful child; always smiling and wanting to help me with things. For some reason he has formed an attachment to me and I absolutely love it. I have only had one prior experience and I had to Google strategies in doing so; it was so long ago and I let most that I learned go “ghost..” Thank you for the refresher, I will make sure these are strategies that should and will not be forgotten :).


    • ashishb01 January 20, 2016 at 3:55 am - Reply

      Thanks Tris, I am glad you found the post useful!

  5. mpho March 30, 2015 at 9:57 am - Reply

    I am very grateful to come across this useful applications…..

  6. Sahra March 5, 2015 at 3:18 pm - Reply

    Very useful apps. I will try using them for my son

    • Ashish March 6, 2015 at 1:08 am - Reply

      I am glad you found them useful Sahra!

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