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Social stories are carefully designed short stories that help children with autism understand new social situations. These social situations can include any type of interaction involving other people such as riding a school bus, visiting the dentist, or ordering food at a restaurant. Research indicates that these stories help children with autism develop an accurate understanding of new social situations (Gray, 1995).
So much of a students’ understanding of language development and positive social skill development can come from the experiences students have while reading. Language development and social communication are areas that can be more challenging skillsets to develop for students with autism, thereby affecting their reading comprehension and fluency abilities (Teaching Exceptional Thinkers, n.d.). Sight word instruction provides a tool that can support students with autism as they learn to read by recognizing whole words quickly, rather than sounding them out.
In K-12 education, there is no dispute that developing reading skills is fundamental. In fact, research suggests that early literacy instruction for students with and without disabilities is essential for future literacy development3. Teachers across the world are constantly utilizing various strategies to support students’ reading comprehension and decoding skills. For some, typical decoding and comprehension strategies may be fairly accessible. For others, reading comprehension or decoding may prove to be more difficult. Students with autism typically have challenges related to reading comprehension, such as answering questions or expressing ideas in traditional ways.
Picture books are a widely used resource in classrooms and homes around the world. Picture books support vocabulary development, story analysis skills, and sentence structure skills1. In addition to building language skills, picture books offer opportunities for children to understand what they are reading through illustrations while supporting engagement and encouraging imagination and creativity. For children with autism, picture books are especially helpful as many children with autism are very literal and visual learners.
For children with autism, communication can be a challenging skill to develop. Children with autism often have difficulties with expressive and receptive language, thus impacting their ability to effectively communicate within their environment, ask for what they want and need, argue their point of view, and engage in successful interactions1. Expressive language development is key for children with autism, as support in this area allows them to use words, gestures, sentences, and writing to express meaning and give messages to others1.
Beginning at a young age, many children with autism can find it difficult to relate to and communicate with other people, and thus may have significant difficulty in expressive and receptive language (Simpson, Keen, & Lamb, 2015). Difficulties in language development can impact later functional outcomes, such as maintaining successful relationships and communicating wants and needs effectively. For students with autism, receptive language development is extremely important, as support in this area allows them to understand other’s requests and the surrounding environment. Thus, early intervention to support language development in young children with autism is necessary.
Children with autism frequently have delayed language development. For children with autism who have developed language, understanding or using parts of speech correctly may be difficult. While many children develop language skills incidentally, parts of speech such as prepositions, opposites, pronouns or verb tenses may be more difficult and require explicit instruction. Understanding parts of speech are important because it shows how words relate to one another in a meaningful way and allows for clear communication.
For children with autism, language skills can be taught using 2-D and 3-D matching skills. Matching is the ability to see two things and recognize that they are the same. Matching skills improve concentration, train visual and short term memory, attention to detail, classification skills, and improve vocabulary. For children with autism, developing these matching skills helps them physically identify and describe relationships between objects which leads to the development of learning language skills. Matching games offer a clear end goal, which is comforting to learners and helpful for teachers and parents.
Stages Learning Materials is excited to announce the launch of Autism Learning Line (A.L.L.), an online community designed to support parents, teachers, therapists, homeschoolers, and anyone else touched by autism. Working with interns from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and after several years of planning, Stages is happy to have found a way to give back to our community. This new support group connects with our Autism Resources and Community blog that was launched 5 years ago and now has over 500 articles to support families, educators, and therapists. Our autism blog received the award for Top 25 Autism Blogs of 2020 by Action Behavior Center and is also the winner of the Feedspot Top 50 Blogs on Autism Award.
Do you homeschool your child with autism? Have you ever wanted to try homeschooling, but self-doubt or a lack of resources held you back? Through ARIS, Stages Learning Materials, which has over 20 years of experience in the field of autism, offers everything you need to engage in a comprehensive autism curriculum at home with your child. Download two free lessons on Drawing Shapes and Departures and see if ARIS can support your child’s needs. With ARIS, your child can access award-winning materials and comprehensive, research-based curriculums right in the ease of your own home. Here are just a few reasons to consider purchasing Stages Learning Materials’ Academic Readiness Intervention System (ARIS) today:
Far too often, society’s bias towards students with autism focuses on the autism, rather than the whole child. Students with autism are more often perceived as “lacking” in some area, rather than celebrated for the many strengths they have. Recent research and new directions in education has pointed out the flaws in this deficit-based thinking, advocating for more strengths-based approaches to supporting students with autism.
Children’s books featuring children with autism are an easy and entertaining way to introduce the topic of autism to your children, family members, friends, and your child’s peers. Children’s books offer simple, accessible explanations and illustrations that can help children and others better understand autism and some of its symptoms in a lighthearted manner. These children’s books emphasize messages about friendship, community, and understanding.
Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) and whole child development, often used synonymously, have huge implications for children of all ages. Described as the process of developing the knowledge, mindsets, and behaviors needed to manage and express emotions, interact positively with others, make responsible decisions, and set and achieve goals, SEL has become one of the primary topics of discussion in education. Policymakers and practitioners increasingly recognize SEL as an essential, though often lacking, component of formal schooling. As interest in SEL expands, new research clarifies our understanding of students’ social and emotional development and its connection to academic learning.
ARIS was created with access and implementation in mind: intended to make the principles of ABA easily accessible and easy to implement for educators working with children with autism who may not have formal ABA training.
Recent research has highlighted the lack of evidence-based strategies and adequate learning programs for students with autism (Stahmer, et al., 2015). Even when teachers have access to learning programs for their students with autism, many lack consistency and effectiveness in using it. Research indidates that many classrooms vary greatly in their implementation of evidence-based practices and various learning curricula, but teachers are more likely to use instructional tools that are highly structured and when they feel supported by ongoing training for those tools (Stahmer, et al., 2015).
Sensory struggles in a child with autism can hinder his or her ability to grasp a writing implement and to use it correctly. But some marvelous strategies exist that can help children learn to write: countering “floppy” muscle tone, varying implement thickness, trying different implement tips to reduce noise issues, and repetition with different implements are all strategies that can help children with autism and/or sensory integration issues.
All children, whether or not they are neurotypical, have unique sets of strengths and weaknesses. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often also have some unique challenges to overcome in building routines and relationships that are functional and fulfilling. While much of current research and therapeutic intervention focuses on addressing those challenges, more and more research is showing that people living with ASD may also benefit from unique strengths previously unnoticed by the general population.
For over a decade, researchers have been relying on tools developed by Stages Learning to evaluate approaches that are most effective for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Wide-ranging research topics span from assistive technologies to socio-emotional learning, and language development. Researchers turn to Stages products because of the company’s commitment to creating quality tools that utilize the latest technologies and evidence-based approaches.
The Academic Readiness Intervention System (ARIS™) is a new comprehensive early autism education curriculum based on the Language Builder® Picture Cards created over twenty years ago by Stages Learning and widely used in classrooms and therapeutic settings.