Sweet Sixteen Principles for Teaching Children with Autism/ASD

Many people on the autism spectrum teach themselves. In other words, they know WHAT to learn. What they are lacking, misunderstanding, or just do not glean like typical people do, is the HOW to learn.

Kathie’s Sweet Sixteen I would like to think that my Sweet Sixteen would cure this HOW to Learn gap in people with autism but cure and autism should not be used in the same sentence. I do know that if all of these Sweet Sixteen principles are applied to every activity and across environments, they will help the person with autism in the following ways:
• Expressive language
• Receptive language
• Social language
• Improved eye contact
• Eliminating undesirable behaviors
• Attention/focus
• Theory of Mind (understanding emotions of others)
• Anxiety reduction

Sweet Sixteen – These principles are not only good for children with autism;they are beneficial for all children.Let your common sense, not any one program,drive each activity you do with a child.

1. keep the child interactive within each environment to gain independence
2. use turn taking
3. many activities should be done simultaneously to enhance each other and overall effectiveness of communication skills
4. use positive, tangible, and/or verbal reinforcement
5. find the child’s reinforcement preferences and use them for motivation
6. use a combination of visual, auditory, and tactile stimulation
7. focus the activities toward the student’s ability to self-monitor
8. any activity is only as good as the amount of enthusiasm and anticipation the speaker (SLP) brings
9. find and build on the child’s strengths
10. move the activity from individual to small group with typical peers as soon as possible
11. share successful activities/strategies between the home and school
12. maintain a structured, predictable, and routine setting
13. offer choices very early (start with two items and add more slowly)
14. maintain a highly verbal environment using self and parallel talk (statements not questions)
15. the child needs an investment in all activities: holding, coloring, counting, cutting, manipulating, choosing, drawing, writing, selecting
16. vary the activity while keeping the goal the same ~ use a variety of stimuli to maintain interest

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One thought on “Sweet Sixteen Principles for Teaching Children with Autism/ASD

  • I found my article, “Sweet Sixteen Principles for Teaching Children with ASD” posted on Autisable! How wonderful – I hope all parents and professional read and share it. That’s what we should all be about ~ My motto is “Sharing is Caring.” See more of my work on Kathie’s World at


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