Autism and intellectual disability

Example of practice

Sandeep is a Grade 5 student who is well-liked by his peers. He is verbal, social and has a supportive family network. Sandeep enjoys working with his speech pathologist, an external provider who conducts sessions at school on a fortnightly basis. He also likes to sing and dance. Sandeep has been diagnosed with autism and intellectual disability. Sandeep sometimes finds getting ideas onto paper challenging, and is usually only willing to write one sentence (with assistance). Once he has completed a sentence he closes the book and refuses to complete any further writing.

1. What are Sandeep's unique strengths and what has been helpful so far?

2. What is the goal and why is it important?

The goal:

  • Sandeep’s initial goal is to write two sentences with the focus being on getting the idea down, not on the spelling or grammar. The overall goal is for Sandeep to write two sentences with correct punctuation and grammar by the end of the term.

  • Literacy skills, including written expression, can help students to express their thoughts or responses when communicating. Writing supports fine motor skill development which will support Sandeep in other areas of his education, and in his future autonomy and independence.
  • Personalised learning and support will ensure Liam enjoys a rigorous and meaningful education

3. What evidence-based strategies can be used to reach the goal?

Sandeep’s teacher used the primary school students with autism and intellectual disability guides to learn more about evidence-based strategies and resources. After using these resources, Sandeeps’s teacher has identified some strategies that can be trialed in her classroom to build on Sandeep’s existing strengths and help him achieve the desired goals:

  • Sandeep is more motivated when a task/outcome has links to a personal interest
  • Sandeep likes to dance and sing

  • Where feasible, Sandeep will be encouraged to incorporate his interests into his writing
  • Sandeep will spend 10 minutes three times per week completing short and simple online activities that use songs/dance to reinforce sentence structure

  • Sandeep works well with one-to-one support
  • Sandeep is verbal and social
  • Sandeep is well-liked by peers
  • Sandeep works well when paired with one or two peers of the same ability

  • One-to-one support with writing will be offered three days per week
  • Sandeep’s teacher will get his attention through making eye contact, and using his name, gestures, and touch (for example; placing a hand on Sandeep’s shoulder)
  • Sandeep will be paired with 1-2 peers of the same ability for specific tasks which focus on writing for more than 15 minutes

  • Small steps/tasks have been helpful when learning a new skill
  • Sandeep responds well to visual cues

  • Most-to-least prompts will be provided initially (for example; “Sandeep, if your sentence is The man stole his mp3 player. Then you need to write the first word, which is The”), and as Sandeep becomes more proficient these prompts will gradually shift to least-to-most (for example; “Sandeep, what was the first word in your sentence?”)
  • To manage the demands that these tasks can place on Sandeep’s attention, enjoyable activities or breaks will be introduced at the beginning and end of writing tasks
  • All writing tasks set will incorporate some skills that Sandeep has already mastered
  • Visual support (such as cue cards) will be used to help Sandeep stay on-task
  • A range of materials (for example; paper, chalk on pavement, keyboards, whiteboard, etc.) will be used across tasks

  • Sandeep has a supportive family network
  • Sandeep has access to a speech pathologist and enjoys working with them

  • Sandeep’s teacher will regularly communicate with Sandeep’s family and the speech pathologist to develop a shared understanding of what they are working on