Students with Autism and ADHD displayed at 50% of viewport width
January 2019 by V. R. Duin

LESSONS FROM AUTISM AND ADHD

Those on the autism spectrum
Need adventures that aren't ho-hum
And prefer fun, rhyming word flows
Over straightforward-sounding prose.

Lessons from students with autism and ADHD are benefiting the education of children of all cognitive types. New ways are being explored to fix standardized lessons and testing in public and private literacy programs.

Centralized conformity causes stress. Children do not fit into one box. They do not learn the same way. The NCLB of 2001 launched standardization and pressure to advance disadvantaged students.


Autism is a different way of thinking. It tends to focus thought, intensify emotions and cloud communication. Students with autism and ADHD are challenging Common Core state-led goals for math and language literacy.


Common Core is promoted by Pearson Education. This near-monopoly, private behemoth retains a post-sale cash-flow interest in courseware, while striving to strengthen its stronghold over assessment and certification.


Pearson is the no-bid winner in many states. It certifies teachers, grades tests, tracks behavior, diagnoses and treats ADHD. There is no national mandate for the methods used in primary, secondary or higher education.


The ESSA replaced NCLB in 2015. The provisions did not eliminate periodic standardized testing or diminish school accountability for student performance. States were granted greater authority over academics.


ESSA largely remains the law of the land. Schools must annually test 95 percent of their students for adequate annual progress. They now can use ACT or SAT tests instead of state measures of college-level readiness.


Pearson is the leading test scorer. Huge test-maker fees may pale against costs of failing ethics. Conviction of eleven teachers in Atlanta for a cheating racket indicates the out-of-control priority on test performance.


One half of students are failing standardized tests. Only a small percentage of these students have autism and ADHD. These students may have no learning disability. Many of them are above average in intelligence.


Standardization may hurt learning by children of all cognitive types. These programs are not boosting learning quality or morale. The focus of learning should be to develop individual talents rather than mass thinking.


Students are trapped in courses set by law. There is no proof they are developing the passion required for learning success. Subjects are being taught in formats of benefit to the manipulation of assessment results.


Standardization is causing students to disengage and “hate” school. Extra time for test completion accommodated a recent college entrance cheating scandal. Special equipment may be allowed for some needs.


Learning cannot be homogenized for individuals. They have different cognitive types, learning styles, socio-economic levels and areas of interest. They are not products on shelves in need of uniform marketing appearance.


Parents are getting involved. According to the Harvard Political Review, parents of stressed and disheartened children have accelerated The Case Against Standardized Testing to encourage creativity and individualism.


Parents express frustration with Common Core learning formulas. The experimental math is confusing and problematic to comprehend. Lack of reading variety is a failed exercise in boredom.


Flaws and mishaps disrupt testing. The content may be poorly worded. It may contain developmentally inappropriate material. Test takers contend with malfunctioning answer sheets and exam booklets with missing pages.


Testing errors frustrate learning. Students who operate step-by-step may be especially challenged. They may not associate proper actions with misleading words and instructions. The government-run system is broken.


Standardization is failing schools and teachers. Common Core test scores determine salaries and close failing schools. In response, public schools and teachers largely focus on raising lower-functioning students.


Test results may deceive. Studies show Student Engagement Affects Test Performance. Tests may reflect levels of engagement rather than learning. Success emphasizes teacher performance over personal initiative.


Individuals on the autism spectrum often have attachments. Their involvement may be piqued by lessons structured around preferred objects or subjects. Half of children with autism spectrum disorders also have ADHD.


Learning development requires sensitivity. Working alongside students with autism and ADHD can be rewarding. They open paths to patience and tolerance. Their opinions and behaviors deserve acknowledgment.


Surprise energizes instruction. ADHD tends to produce inattentive and impulsive behavior. It may compromise focus and ability to start or finish work. Generalized subjects and rigid teaching methods add conflict.


Autistic children often have an acute sense for metrics and patterns. They detect subtle patterns in math, music and rhyming texts. This unique ability enables savants to manipulate numbers with machine-like speed.


Patterns guide learning. Autism has shown educators and parents a link between rhythm, rhyme and the development of analytic and memory skills. Autism reveals patterns and metrics for others to hear or see.


Rhythm and rhyme encode letter sounds and math formulas. As students with autism and ADHD squirm in their seats, wiggle their feet and tap on their desks, they may make classmates mindful of subtle building blocks.


Sounds unnoticed by other students may be disruptive for autistic individuals. Class bells and school announcements may unnerve sensitive students. Awareness is needed. Differences must be accepted and respected.


Behaviors are likely to improve when work is interesting and fun. Students with autism and ADHD may show the way to better social interaction. A halt to mindless copying may work wonders for all students.


Stealth and novelty draw students into classwork. They become restless and disengaged with flat, visual chalkboard drills of Common Core. Critical letter-to-sound associations are no longer emphasized in spelling.


Some students process sounds better than visuals. For this reason, active rhyme may engage students of challenged-to-advanced language abilities with a rollicking new style of classroom presentations.


Visual stimulus enhances learning. Children view surroundings to organize and understand them. Pictures connect visual thinkers to the world. Step-by-step lessons focused on one task at a time may help students see and learn.


Schools seem to recognize alternatives are needed. The system is replacing must-pass exams. Unfortunately, parallel platforms with comparable loopholes remain in place for the graduation of marginalized students.


Parents are not happy with the stress of high-stakes centralized testing of their children. They are calling for greater variety in teaching approaches to boost language, math, listening and analytic skills.


Experiments include: mentoring, visual stimulation, peer modeling and individual guidance. Parents of students with autism and ADHD play an important role in the outcome of learning by children of all cognitive types.


The system must focus on learning and thinking rather than on school graduation rates. Nobody wins in the meltdown of central learning. It is hard to support this organization of lackluster classroom results.


A return to the ancestral methods may provide improvement. Western education began and developed with Germanic university teachings. Until society improves learning, students will continue to face difficulties.


State collusion with big business brings a loss of individualism. Scrutiny of over-sized deals could restore accountability, self-governance, freedom of choice and give clout to sanction under-performing service providers.