As I mentioned in my previous article I do not know much about learning disabilities other than dyslexia. I am writing on these other disabilities found in articles in the net so that you will be able to differentiate dyslexia from the others.
From a helpful handout, some help with issues that challenge ASD students.
Executive Function – ASD students may lack the capacity to identify, plan, organize and carry out needed tasks, achieve independence as adults.
How to help: Help students organize themselves with minimal prompts, through rubrics, assignment directives, check lists, study guides. Give clear due dates. Create systems to check for missing assignments.
Hidden Curriculum – ASD students lack the ability to interpret the social world around them, as well as ways to communicate within it, without having to be told how to do it. Hidden curriculum is closely tied to executive function in daily life.
ASD students are vulnerable to their own literal thinking, passivity, social naivete, emotional responses and often non compliant behaviour. From others, they are vulnerable to ridicule, misinterpretation, exclusion and exploitation.
How to help: Give explicit instructions and explanations; be careful with ambiguities and assumptions. Always give advance notice. Use discretion, and never be sarcastic. Be aware that ASD kids are rule followers. Remember that non compliance has a logic: find out why. Foster habits of mutual support, acceptance, courtesy in class.
Sensory Integration Challenges — ASD kids may become distracted and overloaded by lots of noise, bright lights and crowds. Eye contact is extremely powerful for them. Symptoms are anxiety, unresponsiveness, placing hands over ears, humming, escapist activity.
How to help: Ask your student what he or she needs to help them feel better. Allow them to self-calm as needed.
Resistance to Speculation – This is part of the hidden curriculum: the student struggles to take an imaginative leap when there is no basis in fact. Symptoms are non-compliance, confusion, difficulty making inferences.
How to help: Bear in mind that there’s a reason for an unusual behaviour. Be flexible. Give advance notice, be consistent and avoid making absolute statements.
Processing Speed & Motor Skills – Students may lack the ability to move, react and process quickly. This affects social interactions, practical skills, and response times. Multi-tasking may slow processing speed and generate confusion.
How to help: Give verbal cues in class, advance notice, extra time. Be patient. Adults should practice social awareness, be observant, pay attention to classroom dynamics. Foster mutual respect and acceptance, as well as a sense of community.
My note: Other than not being able to organise as a young child ( I do not know about adults) I had not encountered all the other symptoms in my dyslexic students.
Some Web Sites
• Autism Resources Page: http://www.autism-resources.com
• Center for the Study of Autism: http://www.autism.org
• K-12 Academics: http://k12academics.com/aspergers.htm
These suggestions came from a handout provided at an autism awareness gathering at Barnes & Noble. Sue Hardesty, Special Education director at Columbus Public Schools led the discussion.
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