Things I Keep in Mind When I work with Learners wth ASC/ADHD

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I have been asked for a few basic dos and dont’s for teaching children with ASC/ADHD so here goes…


Explicit communication:

Tell them what to do. Not what you don’t want them to do

Visual processing:

The ASC brain is predisposed to visual processing and therefore many of these children will struggle with listening to verbal instruction, much preferring visual.   For example:

  • “I could sometimes hear a few words at the beginning but the rest became a blur”

  • “Of the twenty words you just said, I heard the first three”

  • Use pictures wherever possible to consolidate activities. This is particularly useful for consolidating conversational activities, but can also be effectively used for prompts within classroom tasks.

  • Back up speech/instruction with images.

  • Allow the more needy children to put up the (vertical) visual timetable for the next day, at the end of each day (allowing thinking time, avoiding anxieties).

  • Back up instructions with a visual prompt (either physically, or with a picture, symbol or photograph).

  • Use flash cards for basic needs? Ie drink, toilet, time out etc. – maybe on a key ring or something.

The children will benefit from as many visual interventions as possible and this will avoid confusion triggering challenging behaviour.



There needs to be an individual motivational force – and wherever possible, an irresistible one!  Rewards and sanctions have to meet the needs, interests and aspirations of the individual.  Therefore, there is a need to find out as much as possible about each child in the class.  One very simple way to do this is to create an all about me box.  Each child should take home a shoe box and put in some items that they feel describe themselves and their interests.


Please see the Andrew Whitehouse All about Me Shoe Box.


Find out what makes them tick!  With information like this you can build a positive personalised reward (and sanction) system to effectively identify areas of individuality.  You will be amazed at the things you find out!  Remember, nothing too precious as they may get lost.

  • Don’t tell me, show me. Most these children will respond better to visual interventions, particularly those with ASD, ADHD and Dyslexia.

  • In SEN it is not “Don’t state the obvious”; it is “If it’s obvious state it!” (Explicit communication).

  • Consistency: Consistency of approach is always crucial to success.

  • Remember at this age his/her attention span is short and build activities around this consideration.

  • Where possible, keep activities interactive – using the interactive whiteboard for group activities.

  • Give clear instructions and use visuals wherever possible.

  • When creating visual interventions, make sure that they can be seen from all around the classroom.

  • Be positive; “please walk”, not “don’t run”. Some children only hear key words, whilst others need to know what to do, not what they are doing wrong.

Be flexible

Stay in touch


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