Internal Organization

(Supplementary to Chapter 10, Info In, Info Out, in Autism Spectrum Disorders in the Mainstream Classroom: How to Reach and Teach Students With ASDs)

More Strategies for Supporting Internal Organization

Organizing Mental Filing Systems

Focus on Fluency: Since attention and engagement can be quite fleeting among students on the spectrum, information can seem to flow in and right back out of their minds. Work to teach and re-teach discrete skills until your students are fluent in them. Once a particular skill is imprinted, it is much more likely to stay put. Encourage students to persist until they are masters at a skill and then challenge them to perform it even more quickly before moving on to something new.

For example, suppose you have taught multiplication, and now you expect your students to apply their multiplication facts to the next unit: division. Of course any students who are not fluent in multiplication facts will struggle with this transition. But students on the spectrum may actually lose their grip on multiplication facts as they move into the new concepts of division. Be sure to give students on the spectrum ample opportunity to practice, practice, practice a skill until it comes easily and expertly—until they are fully fluent in using that skill—before moving on.

Encouraging Generalization

Think in Rules: Since students on the spectrum usually welcome the clarity of rules, teach generalization in terms of rules. As students learn isolated facts, examine the facts as a class and seek to find a rule that binds the facts together. Encourage students to look for a rule that fits every element of a category.

For example, if you are teaching climate, you might compare two disparate regions, charting differences in temperature, seasons, sunlight, precipitation, habitation, and vegetation. Now, by way of summary, begin to generalize: So, let’s make a rule about dry places: In climates that are very dry, not many plants and animals can live. What rule can we make about wet climates?

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