Autism - Instructional Strategies

This page contains instructional strategies for faculty who have SF State students with autism, enrolled in their classes. The best instructional strategy is to facilitate the accommodations that the student is authorized for. You have the right to view the student's accommodation letter at any time. In addition, below are some strategies that some students have found helpful. Please contact the DPRC with any questions about these recommendations. Contact us at (415) 338-2472 or dprc@sfsu.edu.

Please see link below from members of SF State's Autism Awareness Group on supporting students with Autism.  

How to Support Students on the Autism Spectrum

Instructional Strategies

The following strategies are suggested in order to enhance the accessibility of course instruction, materials, and activities for students with Asperger’s Syndrome or autism.  They are general strategies designed to support individualized reasonable accommodations.

  • On your syllabus, include a Disability Access Statement inviting students with disabilities to request accommodations. DPRC has developed the following Disability Access Statement for course syllabi: "Students with disabilities who need reasonable accommodations are encouraged to contact the instructor. The Disability Programs and Resource Center is available to facilitate the reasonable accommodations process. The DPRC, located in SSB 110, can be reached by telephone at 338-2472 (voice/TTY) or by e-mail at dprc@sfsu.edu."
  • Use clear and detailed directives when referring to revisions that need to be made
  • Listing or numbering changes on the paper will provide guidelines for student when working
  • If modeling writing rules, write them on a separate sheet for future reference
  • Keep directions simple and declarative
  • Ask students to repeat directions in their own words to check comprehension
  • Don't use absolute words such as "always" or "never" unless that is exactly what you mean
  • Supplement oral with written instructions when revising assignments, dates, etc.
  • Clearly define course requirements, the dates of exams and when assignments are due. Provide advance notice of any changes.
  • Go for gist, meaning, and patterns. Don't get bogged down in details.
  • Make sure all expectations are direct and explicit. Don't require students to "read between the lines" to glean your intentions. Don't expect the student to automatically generalize instructions. Provide direct feedback to the student when you observe areas of academic difficulty.
  • Encourage use of resources designed to help students with study skills, particularly organizational skills.
  • Avoid idioms, double meaning, and sarcasm, unless you plan to explain your usage.
  • Use the student's preoccupying interest to help focus/motivate the student. Suggest ways to integrate this interest into the course, such as related paper topics.
  • Make sure the setting for tests takes into consideration any sensitivity to sound, light, touch, etc.
  • Use clear directives and establish rules if…
    • a student invades your space or imposes on your time
    • the student's classroom comments or conversational volume become inappropriate

If your questions are not answered by what is in the information please contact the DPRC at (415) 338-2472 (voice/TTY) or dprc@sfsu.edu.