Lesson Plans for a Child With Autism

Written by rebecca deluccia-reinstein
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Lesson Plans for a Child With Autism

Lesson plans for a child with autism are centred on breaking down an all-inclusive program of study into smaller components. Repetition of each stage is absolutely necessary until the skill is mastered. A thorough plan of action and a varying representation for each component of the lesson plan will ensure success by guaranteeing comprehension. In addition to creating a specific set of requirements and expectations, rewards are used to reinforce and support the child's learning.

The Facts

Children with autism do not learn the same way that other kids do. They need specialised lesson plans that tackle a seemingly simple task and break it down into smaller easy to understand units. This prevents the child from feeling overwhelmed or frustrated from an overload of information at once. Overstimulation is a problem for many children diagnosed with autism and can seriously infringe on learning. To avoid this from occurring it is vital that lessons are simplified and repeated using alternating approaches and subject matter.

Lesson Plans for a Child With Autism
A child with autism has special learning needs.


Creating a lesson plan will require a full understanding of the specific type of autism that the child has. The least severe version of the disorder is known as Asperger's syndrome and children with this type are usually able to keep up with standard lessons. Pervasive developmental delay (PDD) is a moderate form of autism that demands adjustments to the lesson plans. Children with autism will need one-on-one assistance from a paraprofessional as well as lesson plans that reflect their developmental abilities.

Lesson Plans for a Child With Autism
Designing a lesson plan for a child with autism relies on his or her specific diagnosis.


The problems that occur from autism can range from minimal to severe and may coexist with other debilitating conditions. Lesson plans can either be the same as those designed for children without the disorder or specialised to suit those with the disorder. Autistic children have social impairments so for the best results and least amount of pressure lessons should limit interactions with large groups. The level of parental involvement will also affect the plans; any lesson that requires reinforcement at home can only be put into play if the parents are willing and able.

Lesson Plans for a Child With Autism
Due to their social concerns, autistic kids learn better in small groups.


One of the most popular theories for teaching children with autism relies heavily on positive reinforcement. As the child is repeatedly rewarded for the correct answer, he or she increasingly becomes more familiar with what is expected. Behaviours can also be eliminated or maintained by a reward system. Modifying the behaviour of autistic children is commonly referred to as ABA or applied behaviour analysis. Lesson plans should focus on teaching through reinforcement or reward. For a child with severe autism, an edible treat given immediately would be appropriate. A higher-functioning student can work slowly toward the prize. For example, for every 10 correct responses the child can receive a few minutes of play time with a favourite toy.

Lesson Plans for a Child With Autism
The type of reward used for an autistic child will depend on his or her ability range.

Expert Insight

Lesson plans for autistic children should be individualised and kept in a book for easy organisation. Each student will require different lessons in order to address the specific skills he or she needs to work on. For this reason, a separate book with the appropriate lessons should be especially created for each individual child. On a daily basis each lesson can be worked on and the responses logged for future reference. If no progress is made changes can be made to suit the learning style of the child. For example, teaching an autistic child to speak by holding up a word card is an excellent suggestion for students who are determined to be visual learners.

Lesson Plans for a Child With Autism
Keeping track of the child's progress will guide the direction of the lesson plans.

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