Executive Function

(Supplementary to Chapter 4, Body and Soul in Autism Spectrum Disorders in the Mainstream Classroom: How to Reach and Teach Students With ASDs)

More Executive Function Strategies

Coaching Coping

→Red Light, Green Light: Post a construction paper traffic light on the wall or on certain students’ desks, and set the signal to yellow when you need to caution students who are headed in the wrong direction. Try to let students on the spectrum know exactly what their indiscretion is so that they have the opportunity to change the behavior before the light turns red.

Comfort On-Call: Designate a safe person with whom a student feels comfortable and who understands his or her issues. Encourage students to turn to that person when their emotions thermometer is heating up.

→Emotions Thermometer: Click here for a reproducible Emotions Thermometer your students can use to monitor their own escalating moods.

Teaching Advance Planning

Freeze: You may already offer your students a countdown before transitions. Now add a planning moment before beginning the next task: Call for a freeze in which they all take a moment to stop and plan what they should be doing, what supplies they will need, what they need to begin thinking about or focusing on. Have the next steps posted on the chalk board or SMART-BoardTM, but also prompt students to plan out those next steps for themselves. Invite questions before starting the activity.

For example, you might alert the class: In one minute, we will begin reading a new social studies chapter together. Everyone freeze now and think about what you need to do to get ready. If you’re not sure, check the list on the board.

On the board, your list might look something like this:

Getting Ready for Social Studies

  1. Take out your social studies textbook and notebook.
  2. In your head, try to remember where we left off yesterday.
  3. Quietly open your textbooks to page 32. What do you predict that we will learn about today?

This extra planning moment will allow your students on the spectrum to get in gear for the next activity and will model the importance of planning and thinking ahead. Also, students will be comforted and calmed by the knowledge that this moment will be consistently provided. Taking some anxiety out of the equation will help them shift gears more smoothly.

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For many more strategies like these, click here to buy Autism Spectrum Disorders in the Mainstream Classroom: How to Reach and Teach Students With ASDs.