How Autism Affects Learning

More than 3.5 million Americans are living with Autism. It is currently one of the fastest growing developmental disorders in the U.S. While there is no known single cause for autism, brain scans show shape and structure differences in children with autism compared to those devoid of the disorder.
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a developmental disorder characterized by challenges with social skills, speech and nonverbal communication, repetitive behaviors, and emotional detachment. When your child has autism, their abilities to learn in a mainstream setting can be greatly challenged.
There are generally three ways in which we learn – visually, through hearing, or a more hands-on approach. If you’re trying to decipher what type of learner your autistic child is, observe them. If you notice your child watching a lot of television, silently observing people, looking at books, etc – they may be considered a visual learner. If your child talks all of the time, likes people talking to them, and enjoys music, they might be more of an auditory learner. A child that is always touching things, pushing buttons, feeling things, may be classified as a hands-on learner.
Tuning in to your child’s learning style makes a world of difference in communication and their ability to acquire skills and information. If you find your child is a visual learner, you may need to use cue cards with pictures on them to help them learn things like “stop,” or choose what snack they might like. If your child exhibits more of a verbal learning style, using a song to teach a skill is a fun way to promote understanding. If you notice your child is a more hands-on learner, guiding them through a task physically like sorting objects by color or shape will help them to process the information.
Communication and tailored teaching approaches are key when it comes to effective learning in those with autism. If your child is struggling with autism, they may qualify for a new research study at BBRA. Those that qualify have access to possible new treatment options and are under the care of a board-certified physician. Compensation for time and travel expense may also be provided.


Medically reviewed by:

Dr Roy Kedem, MD

Dr Zenon Andreou studied medicine at University College London, graduating in 2006. His postgraduate training was in hospitals in and around London and he trained for four years in Otolaryngology before completing his training in General practice

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