Part 5 - Disabilities Affecting Cognition, Memory, or Attention

Part 5 - Disabilities Affecting Cognition, Memory, or Attention Department

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)



Definition - California Code of Regulations, Title 5,  Section 56040 -

“Autism Spectrum disorders are defined as neurodevelopmental disorders described as persistent deficits which limit the student’s ability to access the educational process. Symptoms must have been present in the early developmental period, and cause limitations in social, academic, occupational, or other important areas of current functioning.

Autism spectrum disorders are characterized by significant limitations and may include, but not be limited to, any of the following:

  1. Limitations in social-emotional reciprocity (e.g. abnormal social approach; failure of normal back-and-forth conversation; reduced sharing of interests, emotions, or affect; failure to initiate or respond to social interactions);
  2. Limitations in nonverbal communicative behaviors used for social interactions (e.g. poorly integrated verbal and nonverbal communication; abnormalities in eye contact and body language; deficits in understanding and use of gestures; total lack of facial expressions and nonverbal communication);
  3. Limitations in developing, maintaining, and understanding relationships (e.g. difficulties adjusting behavior to suit various social contexts; difficulties in making friends; absence of interest in peers);
  4. Stereotyped or repetitive motor movements, use of objects, or speech (e.g. self-stimulation behaviors such as arm flapping, flipping objects, echolalia, idiosyncratic phrases);
  5. Insistence on sameness, inflexible adherence to routines, ritualized patterns, or verbal nonverbal behavior (e.g. extreme distress at small changes, difficulties with transitions, rigid thinking patterns, greeting rituals, need to take same route every day, need to eat the same food every day);
  6. Highly restricted, fixated interests that are abnormal in intensity or focus (e.g. strong attachment to or preoccupation with unusual objects, excessively circumscribed or perseverative interest);
  7. Hyper- or hypo-reactivity to sensory input or unusual interests in sensory aspects of the environment (e.g.,   apparent indifference to pain/temperature, adverse response to specific sounds or textures, excessive smelling or touching of objects, visual fascination with lights or movement).”


Classroom Strategies


  • Provide lecture notes and/or slides prior to class
  • Allow use of a note taker or lecture recorder
  • Provide explicit instruction in how to organize study material for class
  • Provide clear expectations for submitted work
  • Do not assume student can generalize expectations from one assignment to the next
  • Large assignments broken into manageable units turned in separately - help students to plan and stay organized
  • Specific instructions about when to begin researching term paper, writing the rough draft, writing the final draft
  • Alternatives to group projects (may need Individual assignment) - Instructor may need to facilitate group projects
  • Challenged by assignments that involve speaking in front of the group – give presentation to instructor only
  • Student may not read email - if that is how information about the class is relayed, the student with ASD may not get the information
  • Provide advance notice for any changes to normal class routine or schedule – check in with student to be sure he/she understands
  • Testing accommodations: extra time to complete test  (reduces anxiety—testing in a separate reduced-distraction room) - reduce sensory input (noise from florescent lights)





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Part 5 - Disabilities Affecting Cognition, Memory, or Attention Building:

Last Updated: 6/13/17