The ability to understand, apply and express information, preferences and needs influences engagement with the curriculum and learning environment.
All students with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have a significant communication impairment which may present as barriers to learning in the following ways:
- difficulties comprehending oral language (especially whole class or individual verbal instructions and information)
- difficulties comprehending written language (many students with ASD demonstrate reading comprehension levels at a level significantly lower than their reading ability)
- difficulties understanding abstract concepts and language and a tendency to apply language or concepts literally rather than generally
- difficulties consistently producing functional language in both verbal and written modes
- difficulties imitating the actions, words and behaviours of others (learning from models)
- difficulties understanding the meaning of and using body language and gestures when receiving and delivering information
- difficulties attending to the main source of information and/or their communication partner
- difficulties shifting attention to different modes of information (e.g. from screen to teacher when teacher makes a comment) and/or sustaining attention
- a preference for using the same patterns or routines for interactions regardless of the context or audience such as repeating set phrases which appear contextually correct at some times and not at others
- a tendency to mask comprehension difficulties through learning routines and preferred patterns of presentation
- difficulties generalising language or skills learnt to new or varied tasks, social situations or environments.