Ten Guiding Principles for Autism

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Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are the largest growing category of disability in the United States. The purpose of this video is to introduce teachers, parents, related service professionals, and pre-service teachers to guiding principles for educating children with autism spectrum and related behavioral and communication disabilities.

Principle 1 - Establish an Effective Communication System: Watch Principle 1  |  Review the Transcript of Principle 1
Effective communication is also not just spoken language, but it is behavior, body language, facial expression and much more. Children with ASD may experience difficulties in expressive, receptive or in pragmatic language. These difficulties can often lead to the child using their behavior to communicate.

Principle 2 - Use Visual Strategies and Environmental Supports: Watch Principle 2  |  Review the Transcript of Principle 2
There are many tools available to use when making visual strategies and environment supports. Focus on limiting the amount of pure auditory information that is given — Remember ... Think in pictures! Teach in pictures!

Principle 3 - Establish a Daily Schedule and Teach the Child How to Use It: Watch Principle 3  |  Review the Transcript of Principle 3
A daily schedule organizes the child's environment and creates predictability. Schedules help the child with daily transitions, with unexpected changes and allow the child to be more independent throughout their day. As the child grows the schedule can become more sophisticated or it can begin to look more like a schedule that you and I may use.

Principle 4 - Use Applied Behavior Analysis to Determine Communicative Function of the Child's Behavior: Watch Principle 4  |  Review the Transcript of Principle 4
Functional behavior analysis is the process of identifying the communicative intent of one's behavior. The primary functions of behavior are escape/avoidance, attention seeking, and trying to obtain a tangible item or sensory input. This process allows you to look beyond the initial behavior to see what the child is trying to tell you. This process works for not just children with autism spectrum disorders but for all people in general. You see, we all use our behavior to communicate.

Principle 5 - Shape Self-Stimulatory Behavior: Watch Principle 5  |  Review the Transcript of Principle 5
Self-stimulatory behaviors are repetitive movements of the body or objects or repetitive vocalizations. Engaging in self-stimulatory behavior serves a purpose for everyone. The two main purposes it serves are calming or alerting. Self stimulatory behavior should never simply be extinguished. Instead it should be shaped, if necessary, and it should be given a time and a place.

Principle 6 - Discreet Trial Instruction is a Useful Tool for Teaching: Watch Principle 6  |  Review the Transcript of Principle 6
Traditionally DTI is defined as a structured teaching setting in which the child receives direct attention, instruction, prompting, and reinforcement from an adult. Data are collected through each step of the DTI process to determine whether or not the child has learned the skill. DTI can be a powerful tool when supports are in place to generalize the skill to another environment.

Principle 7 - Identify Reinforcers that are Effective for the Child with ASD: Watch Principle 7  |  Review the Transcript of Principle 7
Reinforcement is anything that increases a behavior. Don't assume that you know what a child with ASD likes. Not every child wants an M&M or a goldfish cracker. For some children, it may be necessary to perform a preference assessment to determine what items are reinforcing.

Principle 8 - Provide Frequent Choice-making Opportunities in the Classroom: Watch Principle 8  |  Review the Transcript of Principle 8
Choice making is an essential element in programming and can be embedded into the daily schedule and activities. Choice-making allows the child to express self-determination in an acceptable manner.

Principle 9 - Evaluate Your Programming Efforts on a Continual Basis: Watch Principle 9  |  Review the Transcript of Principle 9
How do you know if a child is progressing? How do you know when you need to make changes to a child's program? How do you know when a goal has been met? One word, data, can answer all of these questions.

Principle 10 - Keep Lines of Communication Open Between All Team MembersWatch Principle 10  |  Review the Transcript of Principle 10
Good communication is key to good teaming and good programming. Communication needs to flow between team members. ..with the parents being vital members of the child's support team.

This video presentation is not meant to be all encompassing and does not include every valid practice for supporting and teaching individuals with ASD. In fact, there are many strategies and instructional techniques that are clearly beneficial for children and adolescents on the spectrum. This video was produced to help you provide a basic level support for children in your classroom and in your home.