Unit 3: Curriculum Development for individuals with ASD

3.1.  Perspective Taking and Executive Functioning

3.2.  Social, Communication skills, Interactions and Emotional Regulation

3.3.  Self-care, personal hygiene and independent living.

3.4.  Academics, - literacy and numeracy skills, pre-vocational preparation

3.5.  Self-advocacy, Community Participation, Civil Rights, Leisure and Recreation










3.1         Perspective Taking and Executive Functioning


Perspective taking was defined by Howlin as “the ability to infer other people’s mental states (their thoughts, beliefs, desires, intentions, etc.), and the ability to use this information to interpret what they say, make sense of their behaviour, and predict what they will do next”. Howlin give examples of perspective taking, such as reading and responding to intentions, reading the listener’s level of interest in one’s speech, detecting a speaker’s intended meaning, and deceiving or understanding deception.

Traditional definition: The chief operating system located in the prefrontal region of the brain used to engage in cognitive processes required for goal-directed behavior.

What this actually means: Everything that you do every day to manage your own behavior.

Common executive function processes for goal-directed behavior include:

·      Working memory

·      Task initiation

·      Sustained attention

·      Inhibition

·      Flexibility

·      Planning

·      Organization

·      Problem solving

Teaching students with autism to look at things from different perspectives will go a long way toward supporting their social and emotional development. This lesson offers a range of activities you can use in your classroom.

If you are a teacher who works with students with autism, then you know that these learners often face their most significant challenges in the social and emotional realm. It can be really hard for students with autism to regulate their emotions, to read social cues, and to form meaningful and reciprocal connections with others.

One aspect of developing better social skills, as well as developing critical thinking capacities, is learning about perspective taking. In other words, you students with autism can gradually learn how to look at the same situation from different points of view.

Of course, no two students with autism are exactly alike, and their capacity to understand perspective taking will depend somewhat on their overall level of function. However, the activities in this lesson appeal to a variety of modalities while teaching your students with autism about perspective taking.

Many individuals on the autism spectrum have great memories for facts and details, but they have trouble organizing their thoughts and accessing and integrating the information they have to make it useful for them. This is called “Executive Function” (EF) difficulty.

Executive Function can be considered  the “epi-center” of the brain; it controls the integration of cognitive processes such as planning and prioritizing, accessing working memory, directing attention, problem solving, verbal reasoning, inhibiting extraneous ideas, mental flexibility or shifting thoughts, multi-tasking, time management, and initiating and monitoring one’s actions (metacognition). Together, these skills allow all individuals to solve problems, organize a plan of action, and control emotions and behaviors throughout the day.

Here is a list of our executive functions and their basic descriptions.

Planning: Planning is the ability to forward-think and choose the necessary actions to reach a goal, decide the right order, assign each task to the proper cognitive resources, and establish a plan of action. Those on the spectrum can have difficulty formulating plans to get through their days and organize tasks into completable sections.

Problem Solving:To problem solve, an individual must identify a problem and then formulate a strategy to solve the problem. Problem solving uses almost all the other executive functions including reasoning, attention, planning, initiation, working memory, and monitoring. Depending on which of the executive functions the individual struggles with, that is where the problem solving chain will get broken.

Working Memory: Individuals on the spectrum notoriously have specific memory deficits and strengths. They can seemingly remember every Jedi name, rank and serial number in all ten Star Wars movies, but have trouble remembering to eat, or what day it is, or what the order of the steps are when brushing teeth. Working memory is the ability to remember specific short term memories needed to execute a function or daily task.

Attention: Attention is closely tied to working memory, and again those on the spectrum can show great strengths in some areas and severe challenges in others. Individuals with ASD often have a keen ability to focus, but directing that focus can be challenging.  If the person with ASD has sensory issues, then it’s possible all they will be able to focus their attention on is the sound of the lights buzzing or the smells of the other people in the room. An individual’s ability to focus directly affects what they can keep in and recall from their short term memory

Reasoning: Reasoning, or verbal reasoning, is the ability to understand, analyze and think critically about concepts presented in words, and then relay them back or integrate them successfully. Many of those on the spectrum struggle with verbal acuity. Verbal reasoning can also be hindered by social meanings that are not obvious to those with autism.

Initiation: Initiation is the ability to start an activity, plan, or task. For those with executive function difficulties with initiation, they may want to play a certain game, do their homework, or play an instrument, but unless the activity is initiated by someone else it doesn’t happen. It has nothing to do with desire, or “want” – it is about lacking the function of “just doing it”.

Inhibition: Inhibition is impulse control; the ability to have emotional, cognitive or physical reactions that aren’t acted upon in the moment. So when a person with ASD  starts “information downloading” all the names and songs of their favourite 500 K-pop groups, this would be a lack of cognitive impulse control. Emotional outbursts, hand flapping, or stimming can be emotional and physical ways that impulse control aren’t in place, (although some stimming can be soothing and help concentration if controlled and non-harmful). Some children with ASD simply cannot control their impulses sufficiently to participate in structured situations.

Cognitive Flexibility: Cognitive flexibility in simple terms is the ability to roll with the punches. Those with autism are well known to need structure and predictability, and change can be very challenging. This can also lead to rigidity of thoughts and opinions, as well as schedules and routines.

Monitoring: Monitoring is normally an unconscious process that kicks in when we are on auto pilot doing normal tasks. For instance, if you are walking down the street and talking to someone at the same time, normally only a small part of your brain is engaged in walking. You already know how to walk, so the monitoring part of the brain takes over and keeps you from bumping into things while you have your chat. For someone with executive function issues, if they were tired or overloaded, they would suddenly have problems with the “auto pilot” settings on basic activities, dropping or bumping into things, or simply not being able to pay attention in ways that could be hazardous like walking out onto a busy street.


There are many ways to help individuals compensate for EF deficits. Many individuals use Assistive Technology to help them stay organized and on track. These can include assignment notebooks or checklists, annotated calendars, picture schedules, and color-coded information to distinguish subjects or projects. Electronic aides can be wonderful tools for those who enjoy technology.

Besides Assistive Technology, there are other strategies to help compensate for EF difficulties. Students may benefit from sitting closer to the teacher. Employees may benefit from working out of the main flow of traffic, where distractions are minimized.

When faced with a large project (either in school or at work), individuals can benefit from having the project broken down into manageable pieces so that the project doesn’t feel so overwhelming. The project can be completed one piece at a time. Some individuals benefit from intermediate deadlines. For example, instead of making a large assignment due in a month, the first part can be due in one week, the second part the second week, etc., until the project is completed. In fact, with help, many individuals can learn how to do this for themselves.

Executive Functioning strategies and accommodations can be included in Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and 504 Plans. As in any situation, the IEP or 504 Plan needs to address the individual’s deficits and incorporate the strategies and goals that will specifically work for that particular student. They may also be provided as an employment accommodation.

Some psychologists and speech-language pathologists specialize in Executive Functioning training. Adults may also want to consult a job coach to determine how accommodations can be made in the workplace.

Potential evidence-based practices that teachers may want to consider to address difficulties in EF include visual supports, social narratives, and video modeling. Effective visual supports include environmental modifications to a student’s environment that support engagement in a desired behavior or skill (Wong, et al., 2014). For a student who just can’t seem to get started on an activity or assignment, or who has difficulty making the switch between activities, using a visual support in the form of a first-then board may useful. The function of a first-then board is to show the order of two activities by specifying what activity must be completed first (e.g., first math, then reading; first bell work, then your Spanish vocabulary words; first housekeeping chores, then screen time). Depending on the age and the developmental level of the student, the activities can be visually represented using images or text.

Reminder cards are another type of visual support. They are individualized for a specific situation, created and placed on a piece of paper, an index card, or other media (i.e., iPad or smartphone,) that is easily accessible. Using language and/or illustrations that instruct the student what to do versus what not to do, reminder cards can also be placed in the student’s binder, inside school locker, etc. Used in the classroom as well as other school environments, they can provide a visual cue to remind the student to focus, pay attention, remain on task, complete work, turn in assignments, inhibit responses, raise hand to ask questions, etc. (Wilkins and Burmeister, 2015).

Student behavioral expectations in today’s classroom include the ability to work appropriately in small groups. To interact successfully, learners need to have the ability to read the intentions of others and understand emotions. This can be especially challenging for students who struggle with taking perspective taking. Social narratives, interventions that describe social situations in some detail by highlighting relevant cues and offering examples of appropriate responding (Wong, et al., 2014), may help students gain information about the thoughts and feelings of others, as well as contextual information they may have missed (Wragge, 2011). As with visual supports, social narratives are specific to a learner’s needs and may include photos or other images to support social and behavioral understanding. Social narrative strategies include social scripts, power cards, and cartooning.

Social scripts, the most basic of social narrative strategies, are an effective way to decrease the demands of conversing (Aspy and Grossman, 2012). Determine which social situations are difficult for a student and formulate a brief, simple dialogue. Script topics may include joining or leaving a group activity, asking for help, or discussing points of view on a particular topic. Written on small index cards and kept in an unobtrusive place, they can be easily accessed and used as initiation or response cues in specific situations. Allow frequent opportunities for guided practice; then provide support as the student practices in actual situations.

power card is a social narrative that capitalizes on a student’s passion or special interest (Gagnon, 2001) to teach and reinforce social, academic, and behavioral skills. The power card strategy consists of two major components: a short scenario that describes the problem-solving process for a situation that is difficult for the student’s hero, role model, or special interest and the card itself, which recaps how the student can use the same strategy to solve a similar problem (Gagnon, 2006). The card may be the size of an index card, business card, or bookmark and include an illustration of the student’s special interest. The power card strategy can be a valuable tool for supporting learners with EF deficits in our classrooms as well as other school environments.

Cartooning refers to the use of cartoons to enhance social understanding (Wragge, 2011). Comic Strip Conversations™, an application of cartooning (Gray, 1994), are simple drawings that illustrate ongoing communication, providing additional support to those who struggle to comprehend the quick exchange of information that occurs in a conversation. Simple symbols and stick drawings can be used to turn abstract dialogue into a concrete representation, allowing an individual an opportunity for reflection and understanding. For learners with ASD who have difficulty identifying thoughts, beliefs, and motives of others, the thought bubbles used in Comic Strip Conversations™ can be an effective way to explicitly emphasize what people may be thinking, providing missing social information through concrete visual representation.

Video modeling capitalizes on the strength processing channel which, for most individuals with ASD, is visual--by presenting a visual representation of the target skill instruction (Burmeister, 2010). While four types of video modeling include basic video modeling, video self-modeling, point-of-view modeling, and video prompting (LaCava, 2008), each involves the following basic components: (a) the learner being taught or other models are videotaped demonstrating some targeted behavior, (b) the video recording is then played back to the learner, and (c) the learner is prompted or asked to demonstrate the behavior (Wong, et al., 2014). Video modeling has effectively been used in home and school settings (Bellini and Akullian, 2007), can be used to address a broad range of needs for students of all ages (Aspy and Grossman, 2012), and is easily incorporated with the features available on the average smartphone, such as a video recorder (Wilkins and Burmeister, 2015).

Although EF deficits can greatly impact a learner’s ability to access the curriculum that is provided to all students, these easy-to-use strategies can help learners with EF deficits to be more mentally flexible, less impulsive, able to control emotions, and capable of planning and problem solving.



3.2         Social, Communication skills, Interactions and Emotional Regulation


Children with ASD may have difficulty developing language skills and understanding what others say to them. They also often have difficulty communicating nonverbally, such as through hand gestures, eye contact, and facial expressions.

The ability of children with ASD to communicate and use language depends on their intellectual and social development. Some children with ASD may not be able to communicate using speech or language, and some may have very limited speaking skills. Others may have rich vocabularies and be able to talk about specific subjects in great detail. Many have problems with the meaning and rhythm of words and sentences. They also may be unable to understand body language and the meanings of different vocal tones. Taken together, these difficulties affect the ability of children with ASD to interact with others, especially people their own age.

Below are some patterns of language use and behaviors that are often found in children with ASD.

Teaching children with ASD to improve their communication skills is essential for helping them reach their full potential. There are many different approaches, but the best treatment program begins early, during the preschool years, and is tailored to the child’s age and interests. It should address both the child’s behavior and communication skills and offer regular reinforcement of positive actions. Most children with ASD respond well to highly structured, specialized programs. Parents or primary caregivers, as well as other family members, should be involved in the treatment program so that it becomes part of the child’s daily life.

For some younger children with ASD, improving speech and language skills is a realistic goal of treatment. Parents and caregivers can increase a child’s chance of reaching this goal by paying attention to his or her language development early on. Just as toddlers learn to crawl before they walk, children first develop pre-language skills before they begin to use words. These skills include using eye contact, gestures, body movements, imitation, and babbling and other vocalizations to help them communicate. Children who lack these skills may be evaluated and treated by a speech-language pathologist to prevent further developmental delays.

For slightly older children with ASD, communication training teaches basic speech and language skills, such as single words and phrases. Advanced training emphasizes the way language can serve a purpose, such as learning to hold a conversation with another person, which includes staying on topic and taking turns speaking.

Some children with ASD may never develop oral speech and language skills. For these children, the goal may be learning to communicate using gestures, such as sign language. For others, the goal may be to communicate by means of a symbol system in which pictures are used to convey thoughts. Symbol systems can range from picture boards or cards to sophisticated electronic devices that generate speech through the use of buttons to represent common items or actions.

Speech and Language Pathologists play an important role in autism treatment. They can help the person with autism build communication and social skills in various settings like home, school, and work. SLPs can also help the person learn to use AAC if they need help communicating. SLPs may work with the person alone or in small groups. Groups can help the person practice their skills with others.

Depending on the person’s needs, SLPs may work on some of the following skills:

For people with autism who are transitioning to work, SLPs can also

Emotion regulation (ER) is a construct that may provide explanatory power for understanding the observed emotional and behavioral problems in ASD. ER is generally defined as the automatic or intentional modification of a person’s emotional state that promotes adaptive or goal-directed behavior.  Individuals with ASD may fail to employ adaptive ER strategies and instead react impulsively to emotional stimuli with tantrums, aggression, or self-injury. Such behaviors are often interpreted as deliberate or defiant, but may be due to inadequate management of emotion.

Emotional self-regulation is the ability to adapt behavior when engaged in situations that might provoke emotions such as stress, anxiety, annoyance and frustration. A person with strong emotional regulation skills can:

·      Notice when they become emotionally charged.

·      Consider the consequences of their response.

·      Engage in activities that move them toward their goal, even if they are feeling negative emotions.

Alternatively, a person who lacks emotional self-regulation may:

·      Overreact to situations when compared to same-age peers.

·      Experience negative emotions for a longer amount of time than same-age peers.

·      Have a short temper and engage in emotional outbursts.

·      Have mood swings.

Encouraging emotional development in autistic children

Autistic children can build skills in recognising and managing their emotions. You can use everyday interactions to help your autistic child learn about emotions and improve their ability to express and respond to emotions.

Here are some ideas:



3.3         Self-care, personal hygiene and independent living.



For most typically developing children, learning grooming skills and practicing good personal hygiene may be simple. On the other hand, children with ASD may find it challenging to learn and maintain such self-care skills. Family members, caregivers and therapists of children with ASD might have to work hard to teach and enforce good personal hygiene in their day to day lives.

For a child with ASD, a simple routine could overwhelm one’s senses, and the act of grooming is truly a combination of multiple gross motor skills put together to form one large complex skill. Sadly, daily hygiene habits do not simply involve basic life skills such as brushing one’s teeth or taking a shower. It includes using the toilet properly, cutting one’s nails, managing body odor, and more. Furthermore, neglecting to take care of one’s self in these areas could result in poor hygiene in various aspects of one’s life, such as social experience, health, and employment.

Using Rewards

Children with ASD may not experience the same relief that most of us receive from engaging in self-care skills, such as feeling clean, smelling nice, and looking neat. As such, it would benefit them to learn skills by finding a strong motivator and reward them when they are able to perform a specific task at hand (eg. brushing their teeth thoroughly). This reward could be in the form of a toy, a snack, or extra play time.

Often, if a child strongly dislikes the activity he is doing, it could lead to an attempt of avoiding the task. For example, a child that has been used to wearing diapers may not want to start peeing in the toilet. Therefore, we can first start by rewarding every step of going to the toilet. As the child gains more independence in completing the steps and acquires more tolerance, parents can provide a reward after each task is completed. Once a child is able to grasp the skill, their body will build muscle memory and instinctive responses. It would be beneficial to slowly and incrementally fade out the rewards as they progress (eg. initial reward was food, current reward is verbal praise) in order to avoid over-reliance and dependence.

Using Social Stories or Videos

If a child likes listening to stories, it would be worthwhile to invest some time to create a printed social story. These social stories consist of short phrases and realistic photos to break down each specific task, such as the steps for showering, which a child can review before beginning the task. While teaching a child to operate the faucet safely, it is beneficial to model the preferred behavior, such as turning on the faucet at the right temperature. If the child associates color with temperature, the realistic photos could include red for hot water and blue for cold water. It would also further aid the child if the photos of a particular item (eg. shampoo) include various brands, so that your child learns to identify all these non-identical items as shampoo. If a child responds better to animation, videos on specific skills can be found online at YouTube that demonstrate rapid and effective training methods and reduce the number of verbal prompts in teaching the different steps to showering. (Drysdale et al., 2015)

Using Visual Checklist

To make learning more manageable and to promote independence, these tasks can be broken down into simpler steps and instructions. It is crucial to develop a routine with visuals when teaching a new life skill. There are a number of ideas that can help in grasping these concepts: (1) modeling tasks; (2) creating and laminating a short checklist; and (3) taking realistic pictures of the specific item, the action, the child completing the action (eg. brushing teeth), and having the child check off the steps as he or she completes them. Also, it is important to set up a specific place that is relaxing to address specific sensory needs (if any) for brushing and flossing. This will further help the child associate the bathroom with a routine. Afterwards, slowly let the child take over each step of the process and prompt for requesting help if there are certain difficulties.

By utilizing the methods mentioned above, combined with consistent practice and persistence, teaching personal hygiene and grooming skills should be relatively more manageable for children with ASD.

As young adults finish high school, perhaps going to college or getting a job, at some point they may choose to take on the additional responsibility of living “on their own.” Our society generally regards this as developmentally appropriate (though some families choose to live together in multi-generational home settings).

The transition to living away from mom and dad usually occurs between the ages of 18 and 30. It may happen when a young adult goes to college or gets a job too far away from where the parents live to commute, or it may happen simply because the young adult and/or the young adult’s family believes it is time for more independence.

Living away from mom and dad may sound ideal. No one nagging you to do your chores, no arguing over the computer or the TV. But it also means that you will need to take responsibility for many of the daily supports your parents provided.

Let’s think of the “new” skills a young person needs to live on their own:

·      Managing money: paying the bills (rent, utilities, food, etc.), budgeting for expenses, using an ATM, timely depositing paychecks and benefits checks;

·      Sleeping: determining when to go to bed, when to wake up so as not to be late for work or school;

·      Cooking and eating: purchasing food, preparing food items, ordering take-out;

·      Staying healthy: taking medications, maintaining good hygiene, maintaining a balanced diet, exercising, sleeping, etc.;

·      Taking care of household chores: cleaning the house, cleaning, folding, and putting away the laundry, doing the dishes, taking out the trash, etc.;

·      Getting places: arranging for transportation to school, work, doctor’s appointments, social events, etc.;

·      Managing free time;

·      Practicing good social skills: getting along with neighbors, co-workers, grocery store clerks, etc.;

·      Staying safe: locking doors, turning off the burners/oven, having and knowing how to use a fire extinguisher, replacing batteries in smoke detectors, etc.

All of this is necessary for independent living.

Many young adults, not just young adults on the autism spectrum, need to be taught specific life skills before they are ready to live on their own. If you had an Individualized Education Program (IEP) you may have learned many of these skills at school. Your parents may have also helped you learn daily living skills by assigning you chores and helping you manage a bank account. Regardless of how much preparation you have had, you, like all people (whether autistic or not), will find that there are experiences that you are unprepared for. When confronted with something new, it is important to be able to ask for help or advice on how to proceed.



3.4         Academics, - literacy and numeracy skills, pre-vocational preparation


The academic development of children with autism spectrum disorders is important to investigate as it can provide opportunities for higher education, independent living, and successful employment in adulthood. Although educational data find that children with autism spectrum disorders can achieve similar levels of academic achievement in inclusive settings as neurotypical children, little is known about how children with diverse language experiences with autism spectrum disorders develop academically.


 Many students with ASD have strong visual skills and are often more successful in learning to read through a whole word sight recognition approach than through a more traditional phonics program. Whole words that are meaningful are usually easier for students to learn to read than words for which students have no basis of experience or knowledge. In the beginning stages of learning to read, it is critical to enable students to develop a sense of confidence.

While knowing the alphabet and knowing the sound symbol associations are usually regarded as prerequisite skills for learning to read, many students with ASD often have difficulty acquiring these prerequisite skills (Mirenda, 2003). Some students are able to recite alphabet letters and letter sounds by rote, but may be unable to apply this to decoding words in a fluent manner. The rate of reading fluency will affect a student’s ability to comprehend the message of the words. If a student needs to give more cognitive attention to a difficult decoding process, then it is likely that the student’s understanding of what the words are saying will decrease.

Some students may be better able to understand and learn the phonetic components of words after they have learned to read them through a whole word sight recognition approach, working backwards within a top-down framework from the whole to the parts. It is important to consider that, although some students may be unable to manipulate the symbolic representations of sounds, they may still be able to recognize and comprehend words and acquire skills in phonics.

As the student acquires more words, it is essential to provide activities in which these words are used in meaningful contexts. Ongoing practice in sentence construction enables the student to understand how words are organized to express thoughts and needs, as well as how pronouns, articles, and prepositions are used in context. Daily practice in sentence construction provides students with the opportunity to develop an understanding of grammar and to learn a framework for using language. This practice also reinforces that repetition and rehearsal of language construction are ongoing expectations of daily task performance.


While some students with ASD are proficient in printing and handwriting, many others have difficulty with written tasks because of difficulties with fine motor skills. The visual-motor coordination and fine motor movements that are required in written activities may be extremely frustrating and divert the student’s attention from the content of what he is writing to the physical process of print production. Difficulties with handwriting have been identified as one of the most significant barriers to academic participation for students with ASD in schools today (Simpson, 2007).

There are many ways in which technology can be used to enhance and compensate for the limitations that students have in their writing skills. If fine motor skills are a barrier to participation and academic function, then seek the alternative of assistive technology.

The use of keyboards, word processors, and writing software has facilitated the writing process for many students with ASD. Learning to use a keyboard is a valuable skill for students to acquire. For many students with ASD, using a computer is a highly preferred activity. Teach and encourage the student to learn to use the keyboard as a writing instrument. This is a reasonable accommodation to the motor planning difficulties often associated with ASD. While learning to print can be a useful exercise for many, when students’ difficulties with penmanship inhibit their ability to demonstrate their knowledge and spark behavioural upsets, the use of the keyboard is a viable alternative.


For many students with ASD, participation in mathematics can be a challenging aspect of the academic curriculum. There are several reasons for this:

·      Although many mathematical concepts can be demonstrated through visual examples, they are often accompanied by sophisticated verbal instruction.

·      The language of mathematics instruction has its own vocabulary, and the precision of instruction and usage of terms can vary from one instructor to another.

·      Mathematical terminology can be very complex and is challenging for students who struggle with processing the language of everyday interactions.

·      Along with the verbal, orthographic, and representational expressions of number, there is also the symbolic representation in the form of numerals.

·      Mathematical operations are usually performed with a pencil. Many students with ASD have fine motor difficulties and learning to form numerals and manipulate them on paper may be challenging.

Some students may have difficulty verbally explaining how an answer was reached. This reflects the language processing aspect of ASD. When this happens, it will be important to determine what the expectations for the student will be and how the student’s difficulties will be accommodated. It may be necessary to apply a different or modified rubric for assessment.

Children with autism too eventually need to make a living just like other children. Pre-vocational and vocational training help the youngster with autism develop such a skill. Training that leads to employment offers the youngster a sense of self-esteem, confidence, dignity and a sense of accomplishment. More importantly, the opportunity to be a productive worker and to contribute to the community promotes independence and enhances a positive self-awareness and self-identity.

Adolescence is the prime time to start training in pre-vocation ideally around age 14, even though it might seem that adulthood is far away. What kind of vocational training children should go for will depend on the functional level of the child, their strengths and their interests. Most kids with autism enjoy repetitive work they do well in jobs that require assembling as well as in the information technology industry and in the manufacturing industry. Several vocations should still be explored to find the right fit.

Pre-vocational training will include working on independent life skills, vocational job training, and self-care. No matter how functionally affected a youngster with autism is, with the right training there are things that they can all do. While starting prevocational training early is the key to success, prevocational preparation begins early in life.

Elementary school years: Preparation for prevocational training starts in elementary school. Children with autism are strong at visual tasks hence they are quick to learn tasks that use this skill. Skills that are useful in developing career awareness and feeling of job satisfaction include: matching, sorting, correcting sorting errors, matching to jigs (instructions using pictures, drawings, words, or a combination), simple alphabetising, collecting papers, cleaning tables, serving snacks, getting own snack, delivering messages, packaging and assembly and making simple purchases.

Intermediate school years: In the intermediate school years work habits such as attention to task, rule compliance, sustained work on already mastered tasks are important. Systematic typing, office work such as collating and sophisticated alphabetising, measurement, survival signs, money calculations, use of vending machines can be taught. These can be taught in both classrooms and community based settings.

High school years: Skills to learn include self preservation and safety skills, work without supervision and independent movement. The students should receive a combination of classroom instruction and training at varied worksites.




3.5         Self-advocacy, Community Participation, Civil Rights, Leisure and Recreation



Self-advocacy involves knowing when and how to approach others to negotiate desired goals, build better mutual understanding and trust, and achieve fulfillment and productivity. Successful self-advocacy often involves an amount of disclosure about oneself to reach the goal of better mutual understanding. In other words, it can be necessary to explain that you have autism and what that means in order to explain why an accommodation is needed or helpful.

Ideally, parents lay the groundwork for self-advocacy when the child is young. An important precondition for successful self-advocacy and disclosure is self-awareness. People with ASD need to understand how autism affects their interactions with others and the environment. Also, they need to be familiar with their strengths and challenges. A parent or caretaker can do this with a child from a very early age. In fact, the earlier a child has an explanation about his differences, the better off he will be.

Parents should let their child know of their strengths in any way they can. In addition to developing greater self-understanding, it means talents can be fostered for future academic and professional pursuits.

Teaching Self-Advocacy Skills

Just as social skills and an understanding of nonverbal communication are necessary for those on the autism spectrum, self-advocacy and disclosure requires direct instruction to develop skills.

Areas of instruction can include a variety of topics and skill areas, including:

·      Using a child with autism’s IEP as a tool to teach her about self-advocacy and disclosure

·      Teaching children or adults about sensory systems and how to ask for environmental accommodations

·      Supporting a person on the spectrum in learning how and when to self-disclose

·      Introducing a person with ASD to the basics of the Americans with Disabilities Act and other important laws.

·      Assisting a child or adult in creating self-advocacy scripts to use a variety of settings and situations.

Community Participation

Contributing to and participating in community in some way is key to a good quality of life for any person.

As with most people, most individuals on the autism spectrum want friends and social engagement. Yet, social isolation is common among people on the autism spectrum. Trouble with communication and social interaction sometimes makes community participation difficult and friendships hard to attain.

Participating in the community is an element of every day life, however, this can present unique challenges for families of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Community participation for children with ASD is very important both for the family and for the children in order to:

        Gain new experiences

        Interact with different people and environments

        Have the opportunity to generalize current skills

        Participate in daily living activities

Meaningful community participation for young children with ASD is more than teaching children to simply tolerate the outing, but creating an opportunity to learn and build a foundation for future skills.

Civil Rights

The Constitution of India has given the Fundamental Rights to the people with autism. It secures them a right of justice and they can enjoy equality of status in the community. [xx][xxi]

        Article 14- They like every citizens of India are equal before the law.

        Article 15(1) - The Government cannot discriminate any Indian including the person with autism on the ground of religion, caste of sex.

        Article 15(2)- Every citizens including the people with disability cannot be discriminated on any grounds for the access of any public places.

        Article 17- Autistic people cannot be treated as untouchable which is a punishable offence.

        Article 21- Every person has a right to life and liberty. It also includes right to education for the children with autism in the age group of 6 to 14.

        Article 23- Prohibition of forced labour.

        Article 24- Prohibition of employment of children under the age of 14 years.

        Article 32- A person with autism or any disability can seek constitutional remedy and can move to the Supreme Court by filing Writ Petition.

        Article 300A- No person shall be deprived of the right to property.

Under Sections 80DD and 80U of the Income Tax Act 1961 states that people with disability have the right to enjoy earnings of tax concession. The Mental Health Act also provides various rights to people with disabilities.[xxii]

The Rights or Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 considers Autism a one of the 21 recognised disabilities. It gives certain rights and facilities to the autistic people so that they could live their lives in a better way as well as they are not deprived because of their disorder. Under the act 4% of the people with disabilities can be given employment in Government Establishment. And the person who has the disability benchmark of 40% is entitled to certain benefits.[xxiii]

The rights and facilities of the autistic person: [xxiv]

Separate Law: There is a special institution for the people with Autism which was created by national law. Under the National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act (Act44 of 1999), the National Trust is statutory body of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
 Health Insurance: The people with Autism, Cerebral Palsy and other disabilities can get the health insurance of Rs. 1,00,000 by the Niramaya Health Insurance Policy which was set up by The National Trust.
 Housing: the schemes set up by the GHARUNDA of the National Trust provides affordable housing and minimum quality care for the people with Autism.
 Schooling: Early intervention and support setup by DISHA Centres to help the children with autism and their families. Children who are in the age group of 0 to 10 are covered under the scheme. Their aim is to make the kids ready to attend the school.
 Educational and Vocational Training: Schemes set up by the GYAN PRABHA of the National Trust provides people with autism monetary assistance for their graduation and post graduation course as well as vocational course. The Rights of People with Disabilities Act provides all children between ages of 6 to 18 free education.


Recreation and Social Life: Opportunities and Issues

Individuals who have autism, generally have to be taught to develop leisure skills, something that most of us do naturally. However, once taught, they may develop diverse leisure interests and often enjoy the same recreational activities as their non handicapped peers. A large number enjoy music and many are great singers, working on puzzles, computer games and physical activities that can be done on their own yet alongside others such as swimming, hiking, camping, cycling, and roller skating. Because of their socially awkward ways they are often made to feel unwelcome at sports facilities, except where the parents are able to surmount such hurdles. However, there are other public areas that people with autism visit. Increasingly one finds people with autism enjoying meals in restaurants and tolerating long hours in theatres and to enjoy the experience.