Planning to Learn: Creating and Using a Personal Planner with Young People on the Autism Spectrum

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Supporting Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) to Maximise Their Potential

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Information and Support for Our Community. There is no one type of autism, but many.

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Learn the Signs. One of the most important things you can do. Newly Diagnosed. Start here. Functional Communication Training FCT —a behavioral intervention program that combines the assessment of the communicative functions of maladaptive behavior with ABA procedures to teach alternative responses. Problem behaviors can be eliminated through extinction and replaced with alternate, more appropriate forms of communicating needs or wants. Incidental Teaching —a teaching technique that utilizes behavioral procedures; naturally occurring teaching opportunities are provided, based on the child's interests.

Milieu Therapy —a range of methods including incidental teaching that are integrated into a child's natural environment.


Formerly referred to as Natural Language Paradigm NLP , PRT has as its goals to teach language, decrease disruptive behaviors, and increase social, communication, and academic skills. PRT emphasizes natural reinforcement e.

Adults with Autism

Positive Behavior Support PBS —uses functional assessment of problem behaviors to target the relationship between challenging behavior and communication. It integrates principles of applied behavior analysis with person-centered values to foster skills that replace challenging behaviors. The clinician carefully analyzes the functions of the behavior s and develops and implements prevention strategies i.

PBS can be used to support children and adults with autism who demonstrate problem behaviors Carr et al. Self-Management —an approach that involves interventions aimed at helping individuals learn to independently regulate their behaviors and behave appropriately in a variety of contexts. Individuals learn to tell the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behaviors, monitor and record their behaviors, and reward themselves for using appropriate behaviors. Self-management interventions can be used across a wide range of ages from early childhood through adulthood.

Time Delay —a behavioral method of teaching that fades the use of prompts during instruction. For example, the time delay between initial instruction and any additional instruction or prompting is gradually increased as the individual becomes more proficient at the skill being taught. Time delay can be used with individuals regardless of cognitive level or expressive communication abilities.

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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy CBT is an intervention approach that combines cognitive and behavioral learning principles to shape and encourage desired behaviors. The underlying assumptions of CBT are that an individual's behavior is mediated by maladaptive patterns of thought or understanding and that change in thinking or cognitive patterns can lead to changes in behavior. CBT is used primarily to help individuals with ASD improve behavior by learning to regulate emotions and control impulses. Exploring Feelings —a structured cognitive behavior therapy program designed to encourage the cognitive control of emotions anxiety and anger.

Sessions include activities to explore specific feelings e. A follow-up implementation project is completed by the child prior to the next session.

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The Explore Feelings program was designed for small groups of children between the ages of 9 and 12, but it can be modified for use with only one child Attwood, It comprises strategies to target pragmatic language, social emotional learning, perspective taking, and social skills. The framework, based in CBT, teaches individuals to understand the "thinking" underlying the production Lee et al.

The Early Start Denver Model for toddlers is an extension of the Denver Model; it combines developmental approaches with behavioral teaching strategies and can be delivered in a variety of settings e. Gentle Teaching is a framework for serving individuals with special needs that focuses on providing companionship and open, loving support and guidance. Literacy intervention approaches incorporate a variety of instructional strategies to improve word decoding, word identification, reading fluency, reading vocabulary, and reading comprehension across a variety of materials and in a number of contexts.

For a review of strategies for promoting literacy, see Lanter and Watson Parent-mediated or implemented intervention consists of parents' using direct, individualized intervention practices with their child to increase positive learning opportunities and acquisition of skills. This program is typically used for early language intervention with young children with ASD. The program teaches parents practical ways to help their child learn people skills, such as "tuning in" to the feelings and thoughts of others by attending to nonverbal cues, such as body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice.


The ability to consider the point of view of others and have empathy are considered essential for successful conversation and for making friends Sussman, Son-Rise —a child-centered, parent-directed, and relationship-based approach, based on the view that autism is a social connecting disorder Kaufman, Parents and facilitators join in the child's repetitive behaviors until the child demonstrates a willingness to engage in play; more complex social interactions are then encouraged in a nonthreatening way.

Peer-mediated or implemented treatment approaches incorporate peers as communication partners for children with ASD in an effort to minimize isolation, provide effective role models, and boost communication competence. Typically developing peers are taught strategies to facilitate play and social interactions; interventions are commonly carried out in inclusive settings where play with typically developing peers naturally occurs e. LEAP utilizes a variety of strategies and methods, including ABA, peer-mediated instruction, self-management training, prompting, and parent training.

LEAP is implemented in a classroom setting consisting of children with ASD and typically developing peers and designed to support child-directed play. A whole school approach focuses on the responsibilities of all members of the school community to ensure all children and young people have the opportunity to maximise their learning experience. In turn, children and young people on the autism spectrum need to clearly understand the whole school ethos, expectations, and rules of behaviour.

The physical learning environment can impact significantly on children and young people on the autism spectrum.

It is important to reduce as many barriers as possible and to set students up for success in a predictable and calm environment. Careful analysis of individual learning needs is necessary to understand their child's motivation and preferred ways of working. Planned strategies along with places and times for calming breaks may need to be in place support the child in the classroom.

Children and young people on the autism spectrum may need to have the skills for effective learning explicitly taught. For example, general talks, timetables and work expectations need to be presented in a structured way. Structured approaches benefit all children and young people. There is a critical need to develop a highly individual profile of strengths, interests, skills and abilities as they will have implications for learning. Anxiety may also be an issue as children and young people on the autism spectrum may experience significant social interaction challenges that will need to be addressed before they are ready to learn.

For students on the autism spectrum structured teaching approaches need to be in place across all areas of the curriculum.

Teacher's recognition of a student's patterns of strengths and abilities, as well as need provide the necessary level of adjustment. Adjustments ensure that the child on the autism spectrum can access the content of the curriculum. Teaching needs to be clear and explicit and tasks broken down into manageable steps with easily understood expectations for successful completion.