Accommodating autism classroom
Social skills (also included in diagnostic criteria) might not seem important in a class setting, but, in fact social difficulties can and do impact the classwork of many students on the autism spectrum.Many college courses require class participation and group work as part of earning a grade.Just going to class with peers necessitates the use of social skills.Some social difficulties and possible accommodations are discussed below.Some students on the autism spectrum may experience sensory overload and/or be distressed by the social and communication demands of a class.They may have learned “acceptable” strategies to cope and have the ability to stay focused on their intellectual pursuits such that they can navigate through their classes (at least the classes in their chosen major) and pass as “normal”.By definition (following diagnostic criteria) all students with an autism spectrum disorder have some problems which may interfere with receptive or expressive communication.
Ritualistic or repetitive behaviors, an attachment to incongruous objects and additional unusual communication and social skills (especially under stress) can make some of these students seem odd and bring unwanted attention to them.
Also, on any college campus be assured that there are students who have not been formally diagnosed or students that are not diagnosed until their college years.
Professors and other instructors need to be aware of possible supports that a student on the autism spectrum might find necessary to participate in class and complete classwork.
Some of these are listed below along with possible accommodations.
Receptive difficulties often experienced by students on the autism spectrum include processing verbal exchanges more slowly, misunderstanding sarcasm, idioms and jokes, very literal interpretation of words, and misunderstanding gestures and body language.