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  Shannon Horan UDL Written Summary 10/6/19 Autism Spectrum Disorder affects every 1 in 68 children in the United States. This includes every 1 in 42 boys and every 1 in 189 girls (Autism Speaks). Therefore, every 1 in 68 U.S children needs an Individualized Education Plan in order to have an equal opportunity to learn. Autism is a complex neurobehavioral disorder characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences (Autism Speaks). Education systems have been tasked with how to differentiate instruction in order to provide for all students including those diagnosed with Autism and other developmental disabilities. The focus of my presentation is on how teachers can use new instructional strategies, assistive technologies, and other adaptations to build on life skill acquisition for students with Autism. There is not one Autism. Autism runs on a spectrum, meaning that teachers not only have to differentiate in order to provide for the disability but differentiate in order to provide for each individual student based on their specific needs characterized by their personal experience with Autism (Rudy). The goal of a life skills classroom is to prepare students for adult life after graduation. All students deserve an equal opportunity to live a semi-independent adult life. This means that students need to acquire skills for cooking, personal hygiene, shopping, handling money, and more. Beginning with cooking, teachers should encourage students to self- reflect on their likes and dislikes. Teachers should also provide students with the power of choice. Allowing students to have a say in their lesson increases their motivation and engagement level (UDL Guidelines). As for adaptations, students with Autism respond differently to displays of information. For  example, one student may find success in enlarged text accompanied by images while another thrives off of audio or video instruction. This can be extremely important especially when a student is working with measurements. Manipulatives are beneficial to provide as well. Another strategy for teaching students with Autism how to cook is to provide simulations or real life experiences (UDL Guidelines). For example, allow students to set up a school store and make foods or drinks to sell. Another strategy would be to create a home and careers environment. Actually giving students the opportunity to measure and mix ingredients will ultimately increase their engagement and confidence levels. As for assessments, rubrics can be helpful in monitoring student progress. It may also be beneficial to provide students with a checklist and encourage self-monitoring. Moving on to personal hygiene, students come from all sorts of cultural and home life  backgrounds. This means that students may have differing opinions on what constitutes personal hygiene. Some person hygiene routines include, brushing teeth, washing hands, going to the  bathroom, showering, etc. When teaching students to complete any of these tasks, it is important to encourage individual goal setting. Specialized schedules can also be used and hung in obvious  places as reminders (UDL Guidelines). The use of a task analysis or social story should also be considered. These tools break down the individual steps for completion and eventually blend them together connecting them to the student’s real life experiences. One thing to consider when teaching students with Autism to complete personal hygiene tasks is that a sensory disorder may also be present (Ambitious about Autism). Students with sensory disorders may not wish to touch certain materials and may be sensitive to loud noises or crowds. One adaptation could be the use of headphones when instruction is not needed. For example, a child who is trying to use the public bathroom with his or her peers may wear headphones to block out the loud voices,  sinks, or flushing toilets. This adaptation allows the student to engage in the same experience as his or her peers. In extreme cases, alternative bathrooms or facilities can be provided to avoid a sensory breakdown. The next life skill that I chose to focus on is shopping. Shopping is an interesting life skill  because it calls for authentic real life experiences. One way to achieve these experiences is to take students on field trips around the community. Things to consider are personalized shopping lists, shopping carts, and social interactions. Shopping lists can be personalized by adapting text sizes, fonts, colors, and images. Creating a checklist may also be beneficial in self-monitoring  progress. Teachers should also keep in mind that students with severe Autism may also be affected by mobility impairments. Adaptations include wheelchairs or electric shopping carts (UDL Guidelines). These mobility adaptations can allow a student with Autism to navigate a store in the same way as his peers or other community members. Lastly, it is important for teachers to encourage peer interactions. Using something as simple as the buddy system, can increase a student’s eye contact and response to conversation (Ambitious about Autism). Students are also more likely to engage in team work activities when their goals and interests line up. As for assessments, teachers can create scavenger hunts or other fun activities in order to monitor student progress. The last life skill that I focused on during my presentation is handling money. Handling money can be cross curricular with other life skills as well. Some strategies for encouraging money management are school stores, monetary reward systems, or school bank accounts. Students with Autism are less likely to engage in pretend games (Ambitious about Autism). Therefore, these money management strategies may be more beneficial than games including  fake money such as Monopoly or The Game of Life. Again, providing students with authentic experiences gives them control over their learning and peaks their interest. In conclusion, students with Autism should be given the same opportunities to learn as their non-disabled peers. Adaptations should be unique to each individual student and feedback should be positive and constant. Turning a classroom into a positive learning community that foster real life experiences have lifelong impacts. The first step is always developing positive and trusting relationships with students. Understanding the ins and outs of each child’s personal learning capabilities will allow for appropriate goal setting and success. Teachers should be considered role models to each of their students, constantly looking for new ways to improve each child’s learning experience.


Oct 7, 2019


Oct 7, 2019
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