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Promoting selective attention during instruction in high school students with high-functioning autism Louise Southern.

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1 Promoting selective attention during instruction in high school students with high-functioning autism Louise Southern

2 Welcome secondary level educators! In this tutorial, you will first receive a brief overview on the characteristics of students with high-functioning autism (HFA). You will also learn about selective attention as a critical component to learning. Then, you will learn how and why these students with autism often struggle to selectively attend during classroom instruction. Finally, you will learn about the strategies and accommodations you might arrange to help these students selectively attend during instructional periods. Proceed to table of contents

3 Table of contents (Click on the puzzle piece to take you to that section) What is high-functioning autism? What is selective attention? How does autism impact selective attention? Strategies to promote attention The goal of this tutorial is to help you fit these four “pieces” together. *Click here for suggestions on how to navigate through this tutorial.here

4 Section 1 What is high-functioning autism? Autism overview Relevance to regular education teachersRelevance Review activity

5 Before you learn about high-functioning autism, you first need to know, what is autism? Autism is a developmental disability that causes deficits in three areas: Communication Socialization Behavior

6 Many individuals with autism also display significant learning problems. Click here for more information about the general characteristics of autism.general characteristics of autism

7 How does autism impact a student’s learning in the classroom? Surface issues: Poor self-monitoring Struggle to organize ideas Over-focus on topics, stimuli Difficulty following instructions Failure to recover from inattention Can’t discern relevant from irrelevant info Underlying issues: Poor auditory processing Executive dysfunction Hyper or hypo-stimulation to sensory input Impaired receptive and expressive communication skills Weak central coherence; seeing the “big picture” (Baron-Cohen, 1997)

8 Autism is a spectrum disorder This means that while each person with autism displays deficits in the areas of communication, socialization, and behavior, these deficits can range from mild to severe. Severe Moderate Mild ___________________________________________________________

9 Who are students with high-functioning autism? They display communication, socialization, behavioral, and learning deficits that are milder than those of individuals who fall in the moderate to severe range on the autism spectrum. Yet, the reality is that these students with HFA still require ongoing support in order to perform successfully from an academic, social, and behavioral standpoint. For more info on HFA, click here.click here

10 If you are a regular educator working at the secondary level, why do you need to know about students with high-functioning autism? There are many reasons, but here are just three…

11 Reason # 1: It is estimated that 1 in 110 children in the U.S. have autism (Centers for Disease Control, 2006).

12 Reason # 2 Many students with high-functioning autism participate in the Standard Course of Study and seek a regular diploma.

13 Reason # 3: Most students with high-functioning autism spend the majority of their school day in the regular education setting.

14 Key point… If you are a regular education teacher working at the secondary level, it is likely that you will be responsible for delivering instruction in a content area to students with high-functioning autism.

15 Let’s do a quick review True or False? 1. Everyone with autism is affected to the same level of severity. 2. A student with autism usually displays deficits in the areas of communication, socialization, and behavior. 3. Many students with autism have significant learning problems. 4. Most students with high-functioning autism at the high school level spend the majority of their day in the special education classroom.

16 1. Everyone with autism is affected to the same level of severity. FALSE - Autism is a spectrum disorder. This means that one person with autism might display mild symptoms and be characterized as “high-functioning” while another person might display severe symptoms. 2. A student with autism usually displays deficits in the areas of communication, socialization, and behavior. TRUE 3. Many students with autism have significant learning problems. TRUE 4. Most students with high-functioning autism at the high school level spend the majority of their day in the special education classroom. FALSE - Most students with high-functioning autism at the high school level spend the majority of their day in the regular education setting.

17 Now that you have a brief overview of high-functioning autism, let’s move on to the concept of selective attention.

18 Section 2 What is selective attention? The fundamentals of attentionfundamentals Definition of selective attentionselective attention Review activity

19 What is selective attention? To introduce you to this concept, let’s do a quick activity…. Watch this video for 2-3 minutes.video As you watch, imagine that you are a high school student in this classroom.

20 Think about it….. If you were a student in this classroom, what did you need to do in order to pay attention to the targeted content?

21 You need to focus visually on the content on the board, the teacher’s modeling, etc. You need to listen to questions, instructions, and comments.

22 To pay attention, you just needed to look and listen, right? No, there is much more to it than that….

23 You also need to link the concepts that the teacher was targeting to your background knowledge about basic algebra. You need to have automatized pre-algebra skills.

24 You need to quickly disengage from partner work and shift back to focus on the teacher. You need to monitor your own comprehension of and engagement in the task.

25 You need to mentally manipulate the information in order to hold it in working memory, and then effectively encode it in long term memory.

26 Now consider this question: What could have interfered with your attention to the targeted content?

27 Here are several factors that might interfere with your attention: Environmental distractions Low motivation levels Social distractions

28 Additional factors that might interfere with attention: Limited prior knowledge Un-automatized foundational skills Unclear or inadequate information

29 Do you see how attention is not the simple act of looking or listening? Attention is a complex and multi-faceted cognitive process.

30 Attention is vital to learning! In order to learn, attention must be targeted specifically towards the task at hand. In other words, attention must be selective.

31 Selective attention is the strategic allocation of cognitive resources to the learning task at hand (Bruning, Schraw, & Norby, 2011). Students are required to learn so much in the classroom, so they need to be able to strategically allocate their attention (mental “fuel”) to the targeted content.

32 Skilled learners know how and when to allocate the right amount of attention to a learning task. If we think about selective attention as the mental “fuel” for learning, what will keep a student’s engine running on a full tank in the classroom context? What depletes their mental fuel?

33 In order to answer those questions about “fuel” levels, it is important for you to understand that a student’s selective attention is highly sensitive to the type of task being performed (Norman & Bobrow, 1976). There are two task types: Resource-limited tasks Data-limited tasks

34 Resource-limited tasks: Our cognitive resources are limited. We cannot attend to multiple, demanding tasks at the same time. A student can often improve their performance in resource-limited tasks if they shift more “mental fuel” (selectively attend) to the task.

35 What are examples of resource-limited tasks? A student is trying to listen to the teacher while texting. He can shift more resources towards the learning task by turning off the phone. A student is taking notes from the overhead while finishing homework due for the next class. She can shift more resources towards the learning task by putting her homework away. A teacher observes that a student is distracted sitting next to certain peers. The teacher can assist the student in shifting more resources towards the learning task by moving the student to a new seat.

36 Data-limited tasks: Data-limited tasks are difficult because the student does not have enough information or knowledge (data) to perform the task. A student can usually not improve their performance in data-limited tasks if they simply shift more “mental fuel” (selectively attend) to the task.

37 What are examples of data-limited tasks? A teacher is delivering a lesson on slope-intercept form. However, a student lacks the necessary background knowledge in pre-algebra in order to selectively attend to this new learning content because his cognitive resources are being divided between new material and efforts to gain background knowledge. A teacher is writing notes on the board so that the students can get into groups to complete a learning task. However, a student cannot write quickly enough to take down essential information. He does not have the necessary information (data) to selectively attend to the learning task. A student is reading a chapter in her Earth Science textbook. However, her decoding skills are not fully automatized, and this impacts her ability to selectively attend to the learning task (text comprehension).

38 So, how are data-limited tasks different from resource-limited tasks?

39 Answer: When a student allocates more attention (“fuel”) to a resource-limited task, their performance will probably improve because they have shifted needed resources to the task. However, when a student allocates more attention (“fuel”) to a data- limited task, their performance will probably not improve because they do not have adequate information or knowledge to perform the task. (This does not mean that there are not ways to address these issues…more on this later)

40 Let’s do a quick review True or false? 1.Selective attention is a basic mental process that involves looking and listening. 2.Selective attention is vital to learning. 3.The way in which a student selectively attends is highly dependent on the type of task.

41 1.Selective attention is a basic mental process that involves looking and listening. FALSE - Selective attention is a complex process that involves the strategic allocation of cognitive resources to the learning task. 2.Selective attention is vital to learning. TRUE 3. The way in which a student selectively attends is highly dependent on the type of task. TRUE

42 Key point… Selective attention “fuels” learning, and it involves the targeted allocation of cognitive resources to the specific learning task.

43 Now that you have learned about the concept of selective attention, let’s briefly explore how autism might impact a student’s ability to selectively attend in the classroom context.

44 Section 3 How does autism impact selective attention in the classroom setting? Knowing when to selectively attendwhen Knowing why to selectively attendwhy Knowing how to selectively attendhow Review activity

45 First of all, it is important to remember that selective attention is the strategic allocation of cognitive resources to the learning task. In order to selectively attend in the classroom context, students must first be able to recognize when a teacher is delivering the most important or relevant instructional content.

46 This means that students need to be able to recognize and respond to the obvious signs, and the subtle signs, that you use to cue their selective attention.

47 The cues you might provide come in many forms. Here are a few examples: Direct verbal cues (“Ok, this is important”) Indirect verbal cues (“You might see this again somewhere….”) Printed handouts, study guides, graphic organizers containing key concepts Underlining, highlighting, bolding, circling important items Repeating the same type of problems or concepts to emphasize importance Visual demonstrations (modeling, videos, images) Verbally summarizing key points at the end of class Written information on the board, overhead Verbally enunciating certain words or phrases Verbal cues to direct attention to peer’s ideas, comments (“Did you hear what he just said?”) Non-verbal signals (e.g. pointing, visually referencing)

48 But many of your students with autism might miss these cues. Why?

49 Communication is one of the core areas of deficit in most individuals with autism. Communication refers not only to the sharing of information (expressive communication), but also to the receiving of information (receptive communication).

50 A student with communication problems might miss a teacher’s cues to selectively attend during instruction because they struggle to: Follow verbal, multi-step directions Accurately interpret tone of voice (indicating sarcasm, emphasis, importance) Accurately interpret puns, metaphors, idioms Respond to non-verbal cues (gestures) that signal attention Quickly shift attention to various speakers (peers) Discriminate speech sounds Consistently express the need for clarification or assistance

51 For example, let’s say that while you are teaching a concept, a student in the classroom asks you a somewhat annoying (and typical) question like, “Is this going to be on the test?” Then you sarcastically respond, “No, you don’t need to know any of this.” A different student (one with HFA and communication deficits) might take what you said literally. As a result, he would not selectively attend to that content because he does not view it is as important.

52 Let’s make a connection to an earlier idea:earlier idea: When a student struggles to selectively attend because of communication problems, we might view this as a data-limited task. If communication is defined as the sharing and receiving of information, then a student with autism might not consistently receive all of the information (i.e. data) that they need in order to selectively attend. This is depleting their mental “fuel” for learning the content you deliver in the classroom.

53 In order to selectively attend in the classroom context, students must also be able to recognize why the instructional content is important or relevant.

54 This means that your students must recognize how the targeted content fits into the “big picture,” including how it connects to related concepts, its relative importance or position in a hierarchy of concepts, and its application to real world contexts.

55 But many of your students with autism might not recognize why the targeted content is important or relevant.

56 A student might not see the importance or relevance of a certain concept because they do not possess adequate background knowledge. Or, they might struggle to effectively link their existing knowledge to the targeted concept.

57 What might cause this failure to connect prior knowledge to the targeted concept? Many individuals with autism show weak central coherence, or in other words, they struggle to see the “big picture.” Instead, they might attend to just one part, and fail to conceptualize that part within the greater whole (Baron-Cohen & Swettenham, 1997). This impacts their perspective-taking skills and their ability to generalize content to different contexts.

58 For example, in Civics class, a student might be able to describe the 4th Amendment. Yet, they may not understand how that particular amendment fits within the larger framework of the Bill of Rights. Furthermore, they might struggle to assume the perspective of those who originally authored the Bill of Rights in order to understand their greater intentions. They might also struggle to understand how this amendment impacts individuals and our society at large today.

59 Let’s make a connection to an earlier idea:earlier idea: When a student struggles to selectively attend to a learning task because of limited background knowledge or weak central coherence, we might view this as a data-limited task. The student does not have the information or “big picture” conceptualizations that they need. This is depleting their mental “fuel” for learning the content you deliver in the classroom.

60 In order to learn the targeted content in the classroom context, students must also know how to selectively attend.

61 This means that students must quickly identify and know how to “filter out” less relevant information. They must know how to block environmental distractions. They must be able to reflect on what they know, as well as what they don’t know. In other words, they must use metacognitive skills. For more on metacognition, click here.click here

62 But many of your students with autism might not know how to selectively attend. Why is this?

63 There are a number of reasons why a student might not know how to selectively attend during classroom instruction. In this tutorial, we will review only three of these reasons: 1.Sensory regulation issues 2.Over-selection issues 3. Limited metacognition

64 What are sensory regulation issues? Some students with autism are hyper-sensitive to environmental stimuli (noises, textures, lights, smells) in the classroom setting. In other words, they do not adequately process and regulate sensory information, and this causes them to be over-sensitive to stimuli. A student might become highly distracted (and in some cases distraught) by this stimuli, and would struggle to selectively attend to the instructional content. For example, if several students are whispering in the back of the classroom, a student who is “hyper-sensitive” might not be able to block or filter out this noise in order to attend to the teacher.

65 Some students with autism are hypo-sensitive to environmental stimuli (noises, textures, lights, smells) in the classroom setting. In other words, they do not adequately process and regulate sensory information, and this causes them to be under-sensitive to stimuli. These students may be non-responsive or under-responsive to the visual, auditory, and / or tactile cues that would signal attention in other students. Note: Though it is clear that many individuals with autism experience sensory integration dysfunction, this topic is controversial and requires further empirical study (Iarocci & McDonald, 2006).

66 Let’s make a connection to an earlier idea:earlier idea: When a student struggles to selectively attend because of sensory regulation issues, we might view this as a resource-limited task. The student is allocating needed cognitive resources towards the regulation of their hyper or hypo-stimulation to sensory input. This is depleting their mental “fuel” for learning the content you deliver in the classroom.

67 What are over-selection issues? Some students with autism display what is called “over-selection” (Lovaas, Koegel, and Schriebman, 1979). This means that they might over-focus on one part or feature of a visual stimulus. Thus, they are allocating their cognitive resources to a less relevant or irrelevant dimension of the learning task.

68 What are real examples of over-selection in the classroom context? A student might over-focus on the shape of a graphic organizer instead of on its contents, organization, and over-arching meaning. A student might over-focus on the color of a symbol on the board, rather than on the symbol itself (and what it represents). A student might over-focus on one physical characteristic of a plant form that you draw, rather than on all of its defining features and characteristics.

69 Let’s make a connection to an earlier idea:earlier idea When a student struggles to selectively attend because of over-selection issues, we might view this as a resource-limited task. The student is allocating needed cognitive resources to less relevant information or features. This is depleting their mental “fuel” for learning the content you deliver in the classroom.

70 How does limited metacognition affect selective attention? Some students with autism might not know how to selectively attend during instruction because they do not possess the metacognitive skills that would enable them to: Assess what they already know about a targeted topic Monitor their comprehension of the topic as it is presented Make ongoing adjustments during instruction Evaluate what they understand (or don’t) after the topic has been presented Compare their level of understanding to others For more on metacognition, click here.click here.

71 Let’s make a connection to an earlier idea:earlier idea: Metacognition controls many other cognitive functions and it is vital to learning. When a student struggles to selectively attend due to limited metacognitive skills, we might view this as a data-limited task and a resource-limited task. The student does not have the planning, self-regulation, and evaluation skills that they need in order to selectively attend. The student may not be aware that they need to shift more resources to the learning task because they don’t know what they know (and what they don’t know). It is also important to note that metacognition is inextricably tied to central coherence. How?How?

72 As you can see, a student’s autism can have a significant impact on their ability to selectively attend in the classroom setting.

73 Let’s do a quick review Match each term with its definition Communication Central coherence Metacognition Hyper-sensitive Over-selection Hypo-sensitive Over-responsive to stimuli Focusing on one part or feature of a stimulus The giving and receiving of information Under-responsive to stimuli Knowing what you know Recognizing the “big picture”

74 Communication = Central coherence = Metacognition = Hyper-sensitive = Over-selection = Hypo-sensitive = The giving and receiving of information Recognizing the “big picture” Knowing what you know Over-responsive to stimuli Focusing on one part or feature of a stimulus Under-responsive to stimuli

75 Key point… Students with high-functioning autism often struggle to know when, why, or how to selectively attend in the classroom setting. This is often caused by deficits in such areas as communication, sensory regulation, central coherence, and metacognition.

76 Now that you have explored how autism can impact selective attention in the classroom, let’s examine what you can do about it! There are a number of strategies that you can use to promote selective attention in the classroom context.

77 Section 4 Strategies to promote selective attention Introduction Strategies in response to: Sensory regulation issues Over-selection to stimuli Communication deficits Weak central coherence Final review activity

78 In this section, we are going to first examine some of the instructional strategies and classroom accommodations you might use to promote selective attention to resource- limited tasks. Then, we will examine the instructional strategies and classroom accommodations you might use to address data-limited tasks.

79 As you explore these strategies, keep in mind that if the student with high-functioning autism receives special education services, the student’s case manager can assist you in devising and arranging some of these accommodations as needed.

80 What strategies can you arrange in the classroom context to address sensory regulation issues? 1.Modify physical arrangements –Seat the student close to overhead, board, your teaching area –Space out desks appropriately –Reduce the number of materials simultaneously distributed to student –Offer designated area to place potentially distracting materials –Examine necessity of visual displays near student to reduce distraction Need a quick review on sensory regulation issues?quick review

81 2. Minimize social distractions –Seat the student away from distracting peers –Seat the student close to overhead, board, your teaching area, etc. –Thoughtfully arrange groupings, pairings with peers –Provide student with his / her own work space if needed

82 3. Address sensory regulation needs – visual, auditory, kinesthetic, & tactile: *These are highly dependent on the student’s needs Visual: –Examine necessity of visual displays near student –Excuse student from potentially over-stimulating videos / movies –Look for and mitigate flickering overhead lights, blinking lights on computer, etc. Auditory: –Designate quiet space (desk area, special ed classroom) for breaks –Allow student to use headphones / ear plugs during independent seatwork

83 Kinesthetic –Allow student opportunities to move during instruction –Allow student to stand during instruction –Send student on quick errands, walking breaks –Provide stand-up, stretching breaks Tactile –Use manipulatives when appropriate (and not stigmatizing) –Find alternatives to tactile materials (e.g. glue, paints, chalk) that may be aversive to student

84 What strategies can you arrange in the classroom context to address over-selection issues? Your goal here is to promote visual attention to the most relevant information and instructional features. Need a quick review on the concept of over-selection before examiningquick review the strategies?

85 Strategies to address over-selection: –Present study guides/summary sheets/outlines of important information –Arrange assistance with note taking (i.e. peer notes) –Issue guided notes –Highlight, bold, or circle key terms and phrases –Reduce number of items /terms on board, screen, handouts –Space out items / terms on board, screen, handouts –Provide handouts with clean, logical flow –Avoid seductive and unnecessary visuals (“bells and whistles”) that might compete with important concepts

86 What strategies can you arrange in the classroom context to address communication deficits? 1.Promote detection of social nuances that underlie communication : –Explicitly define idioms, puns, and sarcasm, and use visuals to support definitions. See this chart for an example.chart –Explicitly describe to student the verbal and non-verbal signals that you use to signal all students’ attention. –Identify with student and consistently use a discrete verbal and / or non-verbal signal to cue their attention if needed, and practice responding to this signal. –Provide student with regular opportunity to write down any questions that they are not comfortable asking in class. –Pair words with gestures and facial expressions when possible.

87 2. Compensate for auditory or language processing issues: –Provide a basic script or outline of upcoming instruction / lesson –Present information in both visual and verbal forms –Develop a signal (gesture, written cue) that the student can use to indicate when they need clarification or assistance, and practice use of this signal –Issue written instructions in addition to verbal instructions –Break down multi-step explanations into visual formats –Present information in smaller chunks (verbally and visually) –Provide visual recap of critical content from peer / group discussions –Provide copy of class notes (teacher or reliable peer version) –Audio record lectures For more information on strategies related to communication, click here.click here.

88 What strategies can you arrange in the classroom context to address weak central coherence? Need a quick review on the concept of central coherence beforequick review examining the strategies?

89 Strategies to address weak central coherence 1. Build strong foundations: Assess prior knowledge to clarify existing misconceptions, missing connections, inexperience with topic, etc. Use graphic organizers to examine prior knowledge.graphic organizers Target automaticity of foundational skills via frequent, distributed practice across contexts Remember the video in Section 2 of this tutorial (the Algebra I classroom)?video The students must possess adequate background knowledge in pre-algebra, and they need have automatized math skills, in order to selectively attend to the teacher’s instruction.

90 2.Build strong connections: –Introduce concept by making explicit links (verbally and visually) to background knowledge –Link concept to individual’s interests, experiences, and goals whenever possible –Explicitly describe immediate and long-term rationale behind / relevance of targeted concept –Engage student in “concept sorting” with manipulatives –Explicitly describe the perspectives of those impacted by the concept –Explicitly depict (visually and verbally) other students’ conceptualizations of the concept

91 3. Use salient instructional materials: –Use clear and concrete external representations (graphic organizers, models)(graphic organizers, models) –Present study guides/summary sheets/outlines of important information –Present textbooks, handouts, videos that include critical information to be learned and omit extraneous information –Use clear key points summaries

92 Key point… There are a number of strategies and accommodations that you can implement to help your students with HFA to selectively attend. While these strategies may specifically target certain deficits associated with autism, many of these strategies are effective for all students!

93 This is the final review! For this exercise, you will read about a student who is struggling to selectively attend in the classroom. As you read, consider what underling issues might be affecting his ability to selectively attend. 1.Sensory regulation issues? 2.Over-selection issues? 3.Communication deficits? 4.Weak central coherence?

94 Evan is a 10 th grade student with HFA in your classroom. He struggles to selectively attend during instruction, and he performs poorly on many tests, homework assignments, and quizzes. He does not consistently take notes in class, he rarely asks questions or makes comments during instruction, and he does not consistently shift his attention to other peers when they make comments or ask questions in class. During classwork and groupwork, he sometimes fails to follow the directions. He skips steps, spends too long on certain parts of the assignment, and misses some of the more important objectives. After a certain point in this 90 minute class, Evan struggles to sit still and often begins sorting papers on his desk. When he responds to questions about a concept, he often fails to make any connections to related topics, and he rarely considers how others might conceptualize the topic.

95 So what’s to blame? Sensory regulation issues? Over-selection issues? Communication deficits? Weak central coherence? Of course, the answer is that all four of these underlying issues (and perhaps others not addressed in this tutorial) may impact Evan’s ability to selectively attend. Now let’s figure out how to respond….

96 Here are the problems that you see in the classroom. As you read each one, consider what strategies you might use to respond. He does not consistently take notes in class. He rarely asks questions or makes comments during instruction. He does not consistently shift his attention to other peers when they make comments or ask questions in class. During classwork and groupwork, he sometimes fails to follow the directions. He skips steps, spends too long on certain parts of the assignment, and misses some of the more important objectives. After a certain point in this 90 minute class, Evan often struggles to sit still and begins sorting papers on his desk. When he responds to questions about a concept, he often fails to make any connections to related topics, and he rarely considers how others might conceptualize the topic.

97 How to respond: He does not consistently take notes in class. Provide guided notes or full copy of class notes (teacher or reliable peer version). Explicitly teacher note-taking in effort to eventually fade extra support. He rarely asks questions or makes comments during instruction. Provide him with regular opportunity to write down any questions that he is not comfortable asking in class. He does not consistently shift his attention to other peers when they make comments or ask questions in class. Provide visual recap of critical content from peer / group discussions. Explicitly describe to Evan the verbal and non-verbal signals that you use to signal all students’ attention. Identify with him and consistently use a discrete verbal and / or non-verbal signal to cue his attention. Practice this cueing scenario with him ahead of time.

98 How to respond: He sometimes fails to follow the directions during instruction, classwork, and group work. Issue written instructions in addition to verbal instructions. Break down multi-step explanations into visual formats. Present information in smaller chunks (verbally and visually) Seat him close to overhead, board, your teaching area, etc. Highlight, bold, or circle key terms and phrases in instructions. He skips steps, spends too long on certain parts of the assignment, and misses some of the more important objectives. Highlight, bold, or circle key terms and phrases. Assess prior knowledge to clarify existing misconceptions, missing connections, inexperience with topic, etc. Target automaticity of foundational skills via frequent, distributed practice across contexts. After a certain point in this 90 minute class, Evan often struggles to sit still and begins sorting papers on his desk. Send him on quick errands, walking breaks. Provide stand-up, stretching breaks. Reduce the number of materials simultaneously distributed to Evan. Offer designated area to place potentially distracting materials.

99 How to respond: When he responds to questions about a concept, he often fails to make any connections to related topics, and he rarely considers how others might conceptualize the topic. First, target automaticity of lacking foundational skills via frequent, distributed practice across contexts. Assess prior knowledge to clarify existing misconceptions, missing connections, inexperience with topic, etc. Link concept to his interests, experiences, and goals whenever possible. Explicitly describe immediate and long-term rationale behind / relevance of targeted concept. Engage Evan in “concept sorting” with manipulatives or written graphic organizers. Present study guides/summary sheets/outlines of important information. Explicitly describe the perspectives of those impacted by the concept, as well as how his classmates might conceptualize the topic.

100 Congratulations! You have now linked all four pieces of this “puzzle” together and can take this information back to the classroom to further promote the selective attention of your current or future students with high-functioning autism. View references

101 References Baron-Cohen, Simon. (1997). Mindblindness: An Essay on Autism and Theory of Mind. The MIT Press, Cambridge. Baron-Cohen, S. & Swettenham, J. (1997). Theory of mind in autism: Its relationship to executive function and central coherence. Handbook of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders. (2nd Ed.). John Wiley and Sons. Bruning, R.H., Schraw, G.J., & Norby, M.M. (2011). Cognitive psychology and instruction (5 th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill. Centers for Disease Control. (2006). Prevalence of autism spectrum disorders: Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 2006 report. Page 1 of 2

102 Iarocci, G. & McDonald, J. (2006). Sensory Integration and the Perceptual Experience of Persons with Autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Vol. 36, No. 1. Published online. Lovaas, I., Koegel, R., & Schreibman, L. (1979). Stimulus overselectivity in autism: A review of research. Psychological Bulletin, Vol 86(6), Norman, D.A., & Bobrow, D.G. (1976). On the role of active memory processes in perception and cognition. In C.N. (Ed.), The structure of human memory. (pp ). New York, NY: Freeman.

103 Suggestions on how to navigate through this tutorial: There are 4 major sections in this tutorial. Each major section contains its own mini table of contents to help you locate particular areas of interest within a section. However, you do not have to use the interactive table of contents. Instead, you can just move through each slide in order. Progress through each slide by hitting the back or forward arrow on your keypad. You can click on any underlined text to take you to a different link within this tutorial, or to a specified website. Nearly every page of this tutorial contains a puzzle icon (located in the bottom right corner). You can use this to take you back to the table of contents as needed. Return to table of contents

104 Data-limited tasks: Data-limited tasks are difficult because the student does not have enough information or knowledge (data) to perform the task. A student can usually not improve their performance in data-limited tasks if they simply shift more “mental fuel” (selectively attend) to the task. Return to previous slide

105 Data-limited tasks: Data-limited tasks are difficult because the student does not have enough information or knowledge (data) to perform the task. A student can usually not improve their performance in data-limited tasks if they simply shift more “mental fuel” (selectively attend) to the task. Return to previous slide

106 Resource-limited tasks: Our cognitive resources are limited. We cannot attend to multiple, demanding tasks at the same time. A student can often improve their performance in resource-limited tasks if they shift more “mental fuel” (selectively attend) to the task. Return to previous slide

107 Resource-limited tasks: Our cognitive resources are limited. We cannot attend to multiple, demanding tasks at the same time. A student can often improve their performance in resource-limited tasks if they shift more “mental fuel” (selectively attend) to the task. Return to previous slide

108 Data-limited tasks are difficult because the student does not have enough information or knowledge (data) to perform the task. A student can usually not improve their performance in data-limited tasks if they simply shift more “mental fuel” (selectively attend) to the task. Our cognitive resources are limited. We cannot attend to multiple, demanding tasks at the same time. A student can often improve their performance in resource-limited tasks if they shift more “mental fuel” (selectively attend) to the task. Return to previous slide

109 Quick review on sensory regulation issues: Some students with autism are hyper-sensitive to environmental stimuli (noises, textures, lights, smells) in the classroom setting. In other words, they do not adequately process and regulate sensory information, and this causes them to be over-sensitive to stimuli. Some students with autism are hypo-sensitive to environmental stimuli (noises, textures, lights, smells) in the classroom setting. In other words, they do not adequately process and regulate sensory information, and this causes them to be under-sensitive to stimuli. Return to previous slide

110 Examples of over-selection: A student might over-focus on the shape of a graphic organizer instead of on its contents, organization, and over-arching meaning. A student might over-focus on the color of a symbol on the board, rather than on the symbol itself (and what it represents). A student might over-focus on one physical characteristic of a plant form that you draw, rather than on all of its defining features and characteristics. Return to previous slide

111 Quick review on the concept of central coherence: Many individuals with autism show weak central coherence, or in other words, they struggle to see the “big picture.” They struggle to link their prior knowledge to the targeted concept. They might just attend to just one part of the concept, and fail to understand that part within the greater whole. This impacts their perspective-taking skills and their ability to generalize content to different contexts. This has a major impact on the development of metacognitive skills as well. Return to previous slide

112 The complex link between metacognition and central coherence: Many individuals with autism show weak central coherence, or in other words, they struggle to see the “big picture.” They struggle to link their prior knowledge to the targeted concept. They might just attend to just one part of the concept, and fail to understand that part within the greater whole. This impacts their ability to accurately assess what they know (or don’t know) about a given topic. It impacts their ability to plan strategically in effort to learn a concept. It impacts their ability to reflect on what they have learned following instruction. Given their often limited perspective-taking skills, many students with autism cannot accurately compare their knowledge to that of others. This impacts self-regulation and over-arching accuracy of self-assessment. All of these are critical elements of metacognition. Return to previous slide


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