Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are developmental disorders that affect the brain's normal development of social and communication skills. Asperger's Syndrome is considered an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Students with ASD have high intellectual and verbal abilities, but appear to be socially awkward.

Characteristics of students with ASD

  • May have difficulty communicating, including difficulty understanding facial expressions, nonverbal communication, and have poor eye contact in conversational settings.
  • May have difficulty asking for help when they need it, or difficulty talking when experiencing stress.
  • May lack social awareness and misread social cues; may experience difficulty making friends or working in small groups.
  • May have trouble dealing with change; students with ASD do best with structured routines and schedules.
  • May be very rule-oriented and logical
  • May not do well with noisy settings or bright lights.

Tips for Positive Communication

  • Include our disability statement on the course syllabus and repeat it during the first class meeting.
  • Stress the importance of good study habits and effective time management.
  • Be firm and direct with the student, as a student with ASD may not understand social cues or nonverbal communication.
  • Give timely feedback to the student; errors need to be corrected as soon as possible.

Suggested Classroom Accommodations

  • Be open to students tape recording lectures and utilizing notetakers. 
  • Point out the organizational items in textbooks, e.g., chapter summaries, sub-headings, graphic design, charts, maps, and indexes.
  • Give all assignments and course expectations in written and oral form.
  • Incorporate "hands on" and lab experiences when they are appropriate.
  • Consult with the student and the staff of Disabled Student Development when assistance is needed in solving problems.
  • Give students a clear syllabus, listing tests and assignments with due dates noted.
  • Outline the day's lecture on the chalkboard, overhead, or PowerPoint.  
  • Give a brief review of the material presented and emphasize key points.
  • Include a time for questions and answers.
  • Encourage all students to take advantage of the Learning Center tutoring services.
  • When group projects are a must, assign the groups and put the student with ASD in a smaller group.

Test Accommodations and Administration

  • Allow extra time for test taking (usually time and one half).
  • Arrange for individual proctoring of tests in quiet, separate rooms.
  • Explain directions more fully.
  • Use the Learning Center professional staff and facilities to administer tests.
  • Keep all test formats the same.