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Guided Response:  Imagine you are no longer a new teacher, but rather are now mentoring a new teacher.  The teacher you are mentoring has come to you asking for advice because a parent of a child who was recently diagnosed with ASD has come to her asking for suggestions on how she can support her child at home.  

Respond to your peer with support for this parent by including the following tips:  

1. What recommendations can be provided to this parent with regards to helping the child academically as well as socially?  

2. What resources are available to support this parent?  

3. Lastly, how should the classroom teacher support this parent through communication? 


IDEA disability category with the reauthorization of IDEA in 1990. IDEA 2004 defines autism as a developmental disability in which a child has problems communicating, verbally and nonverbally, to a degree that affects academic performance. It states that these communicative and social difficulties usually arise before the age of 3 years, and are often accompanied by repetitive movements or behaviors, resistance to change, and atypical responses to sensory experiences.

Communication                         Social Skills                                       Repetitive or obsessive behaviors.

Misuses Pronouns                       Blurts out                                              Collects things. 

Speaks in short sentences          Displays a lack of personal space        Covers ears. Arches back.

Struggles to whisper                    Talks a lot about one topic.                   Participates in repetitive play

A grammatical structure which may appear immature (i.e., telegraphic speech, improper tense or use of pronouns) or grammatical structure which may appear pedantic (e.g., monologue, advanced vocabulary in an area of interest). Auditory input sensitivities are covering ears during loud noises Their working memory or the time it takes to process information, especially processing several pieces of information at one time, can be difficult for people with ASD. Some have high word recognition skills, but poor comprehension, others have high calculation skills, but poor applied math problem skills and a proportion are low in all areas. (Pratt, Hopf & Larriba-Quest, 2017)


ASD is a learning or pervasive developmental disorder with symptoms including difficulty with communication, social skills, and repetitive behavior. Individuals with ASD are categorized into levels—Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3—based on their challenges with communication, social skills, and repetitive behaviors.

Students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience difficulty with communication, social skills, and repetitive behavior (Goldstein, Naglieri, Rzepa, & Williams, 2012). These students often struggle with changes to their routines or environment. They may have unusual sensory responses, such as sensitivity to loud noises, picky eating, or a dislike of getting dressed or grooming (Tomcheck & Dunn, 2007). Many students with ASD have difficulty making eye contact, recognizing faces, and understanding emotions (Kirchner, Hatri, Heekeren, & Dziobek, 2011). Over half of students with ASD exhibit average to above-average intelligence (Whitby, Travers, & Harnik, 2009).

ASD is another term for the pervasive developmental disorder (PDD). A student with PDD exhibits delays in communication and social skills, and these delays are often first recognizable during the developmental period from ages 2 to 4. Several disorders have been included in ASD, including autistic disorder (i.e., autism), Asperger’s disorder, a pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), Rett’s disorder, and childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD). The next section of this chapter describes these in detail; the recent changes to the names of the disorders and how they are categorized will also be outlined.

Students with ASD are often described as high-functioning or low-functioning. High-functioning students with ASD exhibit the hallmark characteristics of ASD, but these characteristics do not prohibit the student from participating in regular activities. Students are typically verbal, and their ASD is less severe than low-functioning students. Low-functioning students with ASD often have a below-average intellectual functioning, and they exhibit severe difficulties due to ASD. Many low-functioning students may be nonverbal.

Defining ASD

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) defines disorders and disabilities to help professionals diagnose their patients. The fifth version, DSM-5, published in 2013 by the American Psychiatric Association, places the diagnostic labels of autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder, PDD-NOS, and CDD under the umbrella term ASD. Individuals with ASD are categorized into levels—Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3—based on their challenges with communication, social skills, and repetitive behaviors. Because this categorization system is new and the old labels will still be used for a while, this discussion begins with a description of the older labels for these disorders so you can understand some of the differences between those and the newly described levels of ASD.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less.

A diagnosis of ASD now includes several conditions that used to be diagnosed separately: autistic disorder, a pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome. These conditions are now all called autism spectrum disorder.

Hallmark Characteristics

Although the characteristics of ASD vary from individual to individual, there are three hallmarks—necessary characteristics—of ASD: (1) difficulties with communication, (2) difficulties with social skills, and (3) repetitive or obsessive behaviors. Many of these characteristics appear at a very early age. For example, parents may say that their babies avoided eye contact or focused on one object for an extraordinary amount of time. Keep in mind that no child exhibits every one of the following characteristics, however (Arora, 2012; Kirchner et al., 2011; Moruzzi, Ogliari, Ronald, Happé, & Battaglia, 2011).

Difficulties With Communication

Students with ASD must exhibit some characteristics related to communication, as outlined in Table 9.1. Often, students understand what they want to communicate, but the means of communication are atypical. Many of the communication difficulties are typical for young children learning to speak and communicate, but when these difficulties persist past 3–4 years of age, parents or teachers may want to refer the student for a formal evaluation.

Communication                                               Social Skills                  Repetitive or obsessive   

Makes Verbal sounds when listening              Blurts out                      Collects things

Repeats words or phrases                              Resistance to holding   Covers ear, Arches back

                                                                        or touching

Talks to loudly or quietly                                 Talks about one topic       Participates in repetitive


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