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Managing ASD and ADHD

in Classroom Setting

What is ASD?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental condition which affects
individuals in two main areas:
A. Individuals have impaired communication and social interaction
B. Individuals have restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests or
ASD affects the way that individuals are able to interact with others and they
often find the world to be a confusing place. Difficulty communicating can result
in melt downs this differs from a tantrum as the individual does not choose to
have a melt down.
Individuals with ASD often have sensory sensitivities they may be under- or
over-sensitive to any of the five senses.

Managing ASD in schools

Although there is a range of intervention strategies designed for students with ASD and
used in many educational settings, there is no one intervention or approach proven
effective for every child with ASD (National Research Council 2000).
To gain the most from any intervention or teaching strategy requires a careful review of
the family's vision for their child; the student's ability to communicate, how they prefer to
communicate, and the student's cognitive ability, learning style, adaptive behavior and
independent daily living skills.

Managing ASD in schools

Use Task Analysis very specific, tasks in sequential order.

Always keep your language simple and concrete. Get your point across in as few words as
possible. Typically, its far more effective to say Pens down, close your journal and line up to go
outside than It looks so nice outside. Lets do our science lesson now. As soon as youve
finished your writing, close your books and line up at the door. Were going to study plants
outdoors today.

Teach specific social rules/skills, such as turn-taking and social distance.

Give fewer choices. If a child is asked to pick a color, say red, only give him two to three choices
to pick from. The more choices, the more confused an autistic child will become.

If you ask a question or give an instruction and are greeted with a blank stare, reword your
sentence. Asking a student what you just said helps clarify that youve been understood.

Avoid using sarcasm. If a student accidentally knocks all your papers on the floor and you say
Great! you will be taken literally and this action might be repeated on a regular basis.

Avoid using idioms. Put your thinking caps on, Open your ears and Zipper your lips will leave
a student completely mystified and wondering how to do that.

Managing ASD in schools

Give very clear choices and try not to leave choices open ended. Youre bound to get a better
result by asking Do you want to read or draw? than by asking What do you want to do now?

Repeat instructions and checking understanding. Using short sentences to ensure clarity of

Providing a very clear structure and a set daily routine including time for play).

Teaching what finished means and helping the student to identify when something has finished
and something different has started. Take a photo of what you want the finished product to look
like and show the student. If you want the room cleaned up, take a picture of how you want it to
look some time when it is clean. The students can use this for a reference.

Providing warning of any impending change of routine, or switch of activity.

Addressing the pupil individually at all times (for example, the pupil may not realize that an
instruction given to the whole class also includes him/her. Calling the pupils name and saying I
need you to listen to this as this is something for you to do can sometimes work; other times the
pupil will need to be addressed individually).

Using various means of presentation visual, physical guidance, peer modeling, etc.

Recognizing that some change in manner or behavior may reflect anxiety (which may be
triggered by a [minor] change to routine).

Managing ASD in schools

Not taking apparently rude or aggressive behavior personally; and recognizing that the target for
the pupils anger may be unrelated to the source of that anger.

Avoid overstimulation. Minimizing/removal of distracters, or providing access to an individual work

area or booth, when a task involving concentration is set. Colorful wall displays can be distracting
for some pupils, others may find noise very difficult to cope with.

Seeking to link work to the pupils particular interests.

Exploring word-processing, and computer-based learning for literacy.

Protecting the pupil from teasing at free times, and providing peers with some awareness of
his/her particular needs.

Allowing the pupil to avoid certain activities (such as sports and games) which s/he may not
understand or like; and supporting the pupil in open-ended and group tasks.

Allowing some access to obsessive behavior as a reward for positive efforts.

What is ADHD?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is an internationally validated
medical condition of brain dysfunction in which individuals have difficulties in
controlling impulses, inhibiting appropriate behaviour and sustaining attention.
As a result of these difficulties, a child or young person can experience a range
Specific learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia, occur
in approximately 40 per cent of children with ADHD, while disruptive
behavioural disorders, such as oppositional defiant disorder and conduct
disorder, occur in about 50 per cent of cases. Finally, anxiety disorders occur in
about 30 per cent of all individuals with ADHD.

Managing ADHD in schools

For day-to-day management of learners with ADHD in the

classroom, specific tried and tested strategies and
suggestions are listed below. In some cases, these will
simply confirm good practice, but the key is to develop
consistent routines for learning while retaining the flexibility
to deal with some of the minor distractions and incidents
that will occur.

Key Strategies that should be employed/included in

Managing ADHD in schools:

Seat the child near the teacher but include him/her as part of the regular class
Place the child up front with his/her back to the rest of the class, keeping others out of view
Allow him/her to use objects to manipulative when sitting, as aids to concentration
Surround the child with good role models, preferably those seen as significant others
Encourage peer tutoring and cooperative learning
Avoid distracting stimuli. Try not to place the child near heaters, doors or windows or other potential
distractions, such as gas taps in science lab. High levels of traffic or background noise can also be a
Try to avoid changes in schedules, physical relocation or unnecessary transitions. These children do not
respond well to change or unplanned activities, so monitor them closely on extra-curricular activities such
as field trips
Be creative. Produce a reduced-stimuli area or workstation for learners to access
Maintain eye contact with him/her during verbal instruction
Make directions clear and concise and beconsistent with daily instructions
Make sure s/he understands instructions and what is expected before beginning a task
Help him/her to feel comfortable with seeking assistance
Gradually try to reduce the amount of assistance the child receives
Ensure that a daily assignment notebook is kept up to date and that parents and teachers sign daily for
homework tasks
Give one task at a time, monitoring frequently and modifying assignments as necessary
Develop an individualised learning programme for specific subjects
Consider the use of headsets to provide a proactive distraction when appropriate
Break assignments down into manageable chunks
Encourage controlled movement during class time
Make appropriate use of computerised programmes and resources for specific learning objectives
Make sure you test knowledge, not attention span