Teaching Strategies for Autism:  Tools for Effective Learning

Have you ever wondered if teaching strategies for autism are different from methods instructors use for regular students?

You might assume that they are, and if so, you are correct. Because children with autism suffer from difficulties that most regular kids never face. You can learn about these troubles in the articles I've linked to below.

If the prospect of teaching your child intimidates you, you're not alone. This is a common fear among parents; that same fear overwhelmed me when my oldest son was little. 

I can only imagine that for many parents, the fear of failure can make them want to give up before they even start.

That's why I'm sharing with you the teaching strategies for autism that special education teachers learn to help children overcome the problems that are unique to this condition.

Check out the articles I've listed below. Some of these techniques could save hours of time and loads of frustration for you and your child.

And if one method doesn't work, try something else. I find that trial and error often leads to success.

I would encourage you to begin in spite of any fear that may be holding you back. The only true failure is to allow fear to win.


Of all the teaching strategies for autism I've learned, goals may be the most important.

Ever get lost and try to find your way somewhere without a GPS or even without a map?

Goals are a lot like a GPS. They help you to know where you are going and they help you get there faster.

Goals give you direction and focus. Because of this, they dramatically increase your ability to succeed at whatever you are doing. This will give your child a huge advantage.

So make your efforts to help your child count even more and check out the page on goal-setting.


Prompting involves giving the learner a hint or a reminder when she doesn’t know the answer.

Children with autism often need a lot of prompting to help them learn, probably more than regular students would require. On this page, I outline the different types of prompts you can try with your child.


Prompts are important in helping our children learn a concept or task, but we don’t want them to keep relying on them. Eventually, we want them to learn the skill without needing reminders and hints.

But removing prompts too quickly could stop progress. That’s why we have to fade them.  Fading prompts helps to remove them properly and smoothly.

Forward Chaining

Does teaching your child complex or multiple-step tasks seem next-to impossible? Some children have trouble learning a task that involves a series of steps.

Forward chaining can be helpful in teaching many types of skills, such as tying shoes, brushing teeth or doing the laundry. This technique involves learning one step at a time, starting with the first and continuing until he has mastered the entire task.

Backward Chaining

Backward chaining is just like forward chaining except that the child learns the steps starting with the last one.

This teaching strategy might prove to be more effective for some children in some cases. It’s a good idea to know both forward and backward chaining so you can try these teaching strategies for autism to see which one works the best for your child.

Keep in mind that forward chaining may work best for your child in one situation while backward chaining may be the most effective technique in another instance.


Whether we realize it or not, we all learn more effectively if we are rewarded for our efforts.

If you think about it, why are we motivated to go to our jobs each day? We all perform better when we receive rewards.

Check out this page to find out what kinds of rewards to use and when and how often we should use them for teaching our kids.

Schedules of Reinforcement

You've worked hard teaching Suzie to tie her shoes. You've rewarded her every time she does it correctly. Now what? Should you stop giving her rewards?

That would motivate her to keep tying her shoes, but you don't want her to need that reward for the rest of her life!

And if you suddenly stop the rewards, the new behavior you've worked hard to teach could also suddenly stop, too.

It's great to give our kids rewards when they do something right, but in some cases doing this the wrong way can cause setbacks.

That's why it's helpful to understand schedules of reinforcement. Using these systems of rewards can help Suzie maintain the new skill she has learned.


Many children with autism have trouble applying to other situations the new knowledge or skills that they have gained. For example, they may learn how to read words from flash cards, but then be unable to read them from a book.

Check out my page on generalization to discover how to help your child apply her new knowledge to other situations she may encounter.

Testing Your Child's Progress

You work hard to teach and train your child to learn a lot of things.  At some point you'll need to know how much she remembers.  This is where testing and quizzes come in.  But how do you go about testing her?  

Click the heading to this section to learn about several ways you can measure your child's progress.


They say that repetition is the mother of learning, and I believe it. I know I need a good amount of repetition when I’m learning my Spanish. Our children will need LOTS of it as they learn new skills. 

Patience is the key here. Expect that they will need lots of repetition. If we know this ahead of time, we will be less likely to become impatient.

Learn From An Expert Teacher

Chad Manis is a Language Arts teacher with many years of experience during which he learned about many highly effective teaching techniques. Many of his ideas can be great teaching strategies for autism, depending on how high functioning your child is.  

My son isn't extremely high functioning, but there are many ideas I can use regarding organizing my teaching environment.

His article on Room Organization, like the rest of his website, is absolutely fantastic. You may already know that a highly structured environment is essential for our children with autism to learn and function well.

Check out his site. He has some great ideas that I believe will be of help to you.

Review These Teaching Strategies for Autism

Come back to this page once in a while to review these techniques. It can really help to be reminded about what you've learned. 

Take the time to learn and review these teaching strategies for autism and you’ll be well-equipped to help your child move to the next level. It can make a huge difference in how well your child learns and remembers new skills.

› Teaching Strategies for Autism

1. Teaching Reading to Your Child

2. Teaching Math to Children With Autism

3. Writing Help for Children With Autism

4. Speech Therapy for Autism: Ideas You Can Use at Home Every Day

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