Low-Functioning Autism Activities

Instructor: Lori Sturdivant

Lori has a specialist's degree in Instructional Leadership/Mild Moderate and currently serves as the Lead Teacher for The University of Southern Mississippi's Autism Project.

This lesson will provide you with example activities for students with low-functioning autism. This includes activities to improve sensory deficits and social skills.

Understanding Low-Functioning Autism

Low-functioning autism affects our students greatly because they have little awareness of those around them. These students can have difficulties in multiple areas of development. While there is no cure or treatment for students with low-functioning autism, there are many activities that will help them gain awareness and progress along the spectrum.

It is important to consider any potential problems that may arise before you start any activity. Think about issues such as a change in the routine, or sensory overload. It is a good idea to talk about the activity for several days before you attempt it; this is called priming.

Activities for Middle School and High School

Listening Quiz

Show a scene from a movie you know will interest the student, and involves some sort of conflict or emotion. Do not let the student see the movie. You can have the student close their eyes or turn their backs to the screen. I would not recommend using a blindfold as the student may focus too much on the texture of the blindfold on their face. Next, ask the students questions about how the characters felt and why. This activity improves social skills by having the student focus on tone of voice and word choice to identify feelings. For students who can not articulate their answers, use a feelings chart. You can create your own by drawing faces that are smiling, sad, excited, angry etc.

Feelings

Create a Communication Board

Students will take photos with a digital camera, Ipad, or any tool they are comfortable using. They will take pictures of things they like in the school, places they want to go, etc. Next, the teacher or student can print the pictures, and if it is safe, let the student cut and glue the pictures on a poster board. This is more exposure to multiple sensory items, and it will allow the non-verbal or low-verbal students to communicate with the staff and students. Providing choices to a student gives them a sense or control over their actions, and it can cut down on 'meltdowns' from not understanding each other.

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