Optimising the online learning experience of autistic students

Microcredentials from the Institute of Educational Technology

Autism is a spectrum condition with wide-ranging symptoms, presentations, and needs. When behaviours are dubbed ‘normal’ the response is often ‘what’s ‘normal’?’. Yet anyone whose behaviour is considered unusual, not normal, can be called autistic with no sense of irony. This ‘one term fits all’ often morphs into ‘one approach fits all’.

Tip one: Awareness for educators

So many locks; not enough keys.

Autistic individuals are often ‘bottom-up’ thinkers (‘can’t see the wood for the trees’). This cognitive process affects problem solving, decision making, and knowledge assimilation.

Speech patterns, verbal and written, may be rambling as thoughts are gathered and facts are disseminated. Very focussed online comments to elicit information and respond to questions may seem blunt, even rude and are common criticisms of the communication style. Anger or humour may mask feelings; coupled with deep fear of rejection, it’s a no-win situation.

Awareness of specific, individual approaches to learning…

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