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Planning in Reverse, Sharing Social Secrets &  18 Additional Ways to Support, Include, & Teach Students with Autism. Paula Kluth, Ph.D. [email protected] website: Raising Student Achievement December 2006

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Planning in Reverse, Sharing Social Secrets & 18 Additional Ways to Support, Include, & Teach Students with Autism

Paula Kluth, Ph.D.

[email protected]


Raising Student Achievement

December 2006

The contents of these pages are intellectual property. This material may not be used, transmitted or reproduced unless in accordance with prior written instructions issued by Paula Kluth.

What do we think about when we hear “autism”?

Who are these students?The medical model


  • Qualitative impairment in social interaction

  • Qualitative impairmentin communication

  • Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities

Unique & highly individualized social skills and abilities

Communication differences

and complexities

Often have expertise or deep interest in one or several topics; may have fascinations with objects as well

#1 Question the Medical

Model of Disability

#2 Consider the “Insider” Perspective



#3speak and write

#4use a visual schedule

#5whisper (shhhhh)

#6 be clear & precise

#7Use Indirect Communication

  • Puppets/Toys

  • Foreign Accents (or Second Language)

  • Singing/Music

  • E-mail

  • Sign Language/Gestures

  • Microphone

Junee Waites (2001), the mother of a man with autism shares in her book, Smiling at the Shadows,

that she couldn’t get her son to engage in household routines until she sang to him:

…I sang “We’re sweeping the floor, sweeping the floor! We’re

making the bed, making the bed! Would you like…dah de dah…a drink

of milk…la la la…?”

Sometimes I’d wonder who had the problem, but [the] scheme

worked. I sang merrily and Dane began to point to what he wanted—

-and he would look to me. (p. 41)

#8 Respect Gaze Avoidance! Do Not Focus on EYE CONTACT as a Goal

Wendy Lawson (1998), who has Asperger’s

syndrome, claims that making eye contact with a

speaker can result in a break down in


  • How much easier it it to hear someone if you can’t see his or her face. Then words are pure and not distorted by grimaces and gestures. I can listen better to the tone of someone’s voice when I am not confused by the unwritten words of their facial expressions.


#9plan in reverse

#10use passions as teaching tools

#11use passions to inspire new interests


Example of “building on strengths” activity:STUDENT LOVES WEATHERdisaster fictionintroduce student to weather section of newspaper how to read barometer and other gadgetshand-on science experimentsteach email and web skills – surf for weather informationteach music- “Singing in the Rain”; “Sunny Weather”support communication skills; have student teach others about weather or give daily weather facthave student learn about jobs like weather person, volunteer with disaster reliefteach about feelings- “are you feeling gloomy and rainy today or sunny”?

#12 POWER Cards, Mantras & Mottos(cards, posters, book jackets)

You win some, you lose some!

  • Smile

  • Extend your

  • hand

  • 3. Introduce yourself



#13 Teach Social Secrets or the “Hidden Curriculum”

  • When people say “How are you?” in the hallway, they don’t really want to know. Just say “Fine.”

  • If you need a break, you can say, “May I use the bathroom?” You can do this even if you don’t need to use the bathroom.

[Father] held up his right hand and spread

his fingers out in a fan. I held up my left hand and

spread my fingers out in a fan and we made our

fingers and thumbs touch each other. We do this

because sometimes father wants to give me a hug,

but I do not like hugging people so we do this

instead, and it means that he loves me. (Haddon,

M. The curious incident of the dog in the night-time. p. 16)

Learning Differences/

Curricular Adaptations

#14adapted materials (props)

#15teach to the whole child (movement, sensory)

#16keep learning active

Art ClassMr. FinerJosh S.

The Color Wheel is a chart that shows how colors are related and sorted to make it easier for artist to mix the right colors for paint.

The Primary colors are blue, red, and yellow and cannot be made by mixing other colors together. Secondary colors are orange, purple and green and are made by mixing two primary colors from either side of the color wheel.Tertiary colors are made by mixing a primary and a secondary color together. Like purple and blue, green and yellow or blue and green.Complementary colors are opposite from each other on the color wheel and they contrast because they do not have any colors in common. Green is made by mixing yellow and blue, so

it will complement red.

The Masters

Georgia O’Keeffe

O'Keeffe's originality and integrity earned her a reputation as

one of the greatest American Artist of the twentieth century.

Always loyal to her own vision, she painted her works without

regard to public tastes or changing styles in American Art.

Her paintings have retained a timeless quality that makes

them look fresh and original still.

O'Keeffe's paintings of natural subjects-not only flowers, but

animal bones, sea shells, rocks and desert landscapes-carry

With them a peaceful balance of elements, reflecting the

artist's love of her subjects as well as a highly developed sense

of composition.

Calla Lily Turned Away

Artists with Autism

Ricky Hagedorn likes to make pictures of cars and airplanes on wood shingles using enamel and acrylic paint in rich primary colors, and his representations come to life: the chrome gleams and the sun beats down on the roof. He annotates his works with his own hieroglyphic system that identify the date of the work.

#17 Grab & Learn/Activity Boxes

A kindergarten mathematics activity box might include:

  • calculator or adding machine

  • dice

  • various worksheets

  • card games

  • wipe-off board/mini chalkboard

  • plastic or foam letters

  • cassette tapes or compact discs of math-related music (e.g., Sesame Street Numbers)

    A high school U.S. history activity box might include:

  • colorful atlas of the U.S.

  • flashcards or playing cards featuring famous Americans

  • crossword puzzles or word finds with historical themes

  • issues of Time, Newsweek, or National Geographic magazine

  • hand-held computer trivia game

  • brochures/pamphlets of American landmarks

  • small desk-top jigsaw puzzles with history themes (e.g., Civil War)



#18 Change the Environment-- lighting--seating--organization

Guy constantly disrupted lessons because he arrived late

to his classes, struggled to find a place to sit, and often

did not have the necessary course materials.

…it was suggested that he should be allowed to have a fixed desk at which to sit in every lesson…. In each classroom the desk would also contain the minimum equipment necessary for him to cope with the lesson (paper, pens, ruler, etc.). Some teachers were happy to implement these suggestions and in their classes Guy’s behavior improved rapidly. Others refused to change long-established teaching practices and in these classes his behavior remained highly disruptive and erratic. (Howlin, 1998, p. 244)

#19 & 20

Listen to Students &

Listen to Families

Jasmine Lee O’ Neill (1999):

Good professionals in the field spend a lot of time getting to

know each new autistic client or pupil. They respect that

sensitive person’s characteristic to live like a shy sea

creature inside a vibrant, colourful, self-containing shell

home. They are interested in each one as a human being.

They delight in the surprises that unfold as they get to know

the autistic individual. (p. 22).

Autism means a different way of seeing the world and I

always invite my teachers to buy a ticket on the journey to

reaching the station called acceptance and full knowledge.

Some reach the final destination and some hop off at the

beginning. They need to be as a conductor and guide me

through the many places I may get lost in. The math maze

I am the leader. The English maze is confusing and then I

need my conductor. And so remember that teachers need

patience, and curiosity, desire to give life to education and

all persons who place their dollar in the gate and deem it

possible to come out a world class traveler.

Jamie Burke (The Advocate, 2002)

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