Students with Autism and ADHD show how all students would  benefit with less baggage in schools displayed at 50% of viewport width.
January 2020 by Terry Verduin


Those on the autism spectrum
need adventures that aren't ho-hum
and prefer fun, rhyming word flows
over straightforward-sounding prose.

Here's how students with autism and ADHD could help literacy programs end standardized lessons and testing to improve learning for all cognitive types.

Branding? Education cannot be homogenized. Individuals have different cognitive types, learning styles, socio-economic levels and areas of interest. They are not products on shelves in need of uniform display appearance.

Creative Class? Teaching 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.

Masters of Suspense? Autistic children often have an acute sense for metrics and patterns. They detect subtle patterns in math, music and rhyming text. This power enables savants to manipulate numbers at machine-like speed.

Net Worth? Patterns guide learning. Autism reveals a link between rhythm, rhyme and the development of analytic and memory skills. This unique connectivity may lead educators, parents and others to awareness.

Ray's the Game? Rhyming matters. An elementary school teacher discovered a classroom reading aloud of The Amazing Flight of Little Ray elicited the first-ever verbal response from a special needs student.

Golden Hour? Rhythm and rhyme encode letter sounds and math formulas. Students with autism or ADHD squirm in their seats, wiggle their feet and tap on their desks. Classmates may grasp these subtle building-block signals.

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

Sharp Note? Some students process sounds better than visuals. Whether challenged or advanced, active rhyme engages these learners. Rollicking language presentation widely stimulates listening interest.

Color Guard? Visual stimulus enhances schooling for most Children. Viewing helps them interpret and organize their surroundings. Visual thinkers arrive at understandings with pictures and step-by-step lessons.

Autism? This different way of thinking tends to focus thought, intensify emotions and cloud communication. Unwavering state-led math and language programming drills turn off independent minds.

Sand Castles? Centralized conformity causes stress. Children do not fit into one box or learn the same way. The NCLB of 2001 launched standardized pressure to advance disadvantaged students. The results are poor.

Beach Bums? One half of students fail standardized examinations. A small percentage of these students have autism or ADHD. These students may have no learning disability. Many of them have above-average intelligence.

Help Literacy Programs

Impenetrable? Pearson Education Limited promotes standardization. This near-monopoly, private British behemoth derives income from systemization. Money perpetuates its stronghold over assessment and certification.

Just Dessert? Pearson is the no-bid winner in many states. It certifies teachers, grades tests, tracks behavior, diagnoses and treats ADHD. No national mandate oversees primary, middle or higher education systems.

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

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

Glory Daze? 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 tests other than state measures of college-level readiness.

Uniform Look? Methodical programs may hurt learning by children of diverse cognition. Government Barriers stifle education quality and morale. Mass centralization does not groom individual talents.

Luminaries? The system is the sole beneficiary of assessment-result manipulations. Students feel trapped in force-fed school subjects set by law. The resulting resistance stifles quests for knowledge or experience.

Dark Period? The College Board owns, develops and publishes the SAT admission exam. It measures math as well as reading, writing and language skills. It shows about 45% of students meet college-ready benchmarks.

Peak Season? Relentless, central test fixations cause students to disengage and “hate” school. Extra time granted for completion accommodated a recent college admission scandal. Test answers can be purchased or doctored.

End Standard Lessons and Testing

Spillover? Discontent transcends classrooms. The Harvard Political Review reports parents of stressed and disheartened children raised The Case Against Standardized Testing. It extinguishes creativity and individualism.

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

Act and See? Parental involvement builds trust and awareness between educators and the community. Collaborative communications strengthen associations and reduce unpleasant experiences.

Roadblocks? Parents express frustration with problematic Common Core state-set education goals. Experimental math formulas are confusing to comprehend. The lack of reading variety is a failed exercise in boredom.

Long View? Parents are not happy with the high-stakes stress from centralized student testing. To boost language, math, listening or analytic skills they call for individualized study approaches for their children.

Beach Day? Flaws and mishaps disrupt testing. Content may be poorly worded or developmentally inappropriate in nature. Test takers contend with malfunctioning answer sheets and exam booklets with missing pages.

Directors: Cut! Test errors frustrate learning. Students operating step-by-step may be especially challenged. It's hard to associate proper actions with misleading words and instructions. The government-run system is broken.

Round Trip? Standardization is crippling schools and toppling teachers. Common Core test scores determine salaries and close under-performing schools. Raising lower-functioning students may not offer universal benefit.

Sheer Luck?Test results may deceive. NWEA data from 49 foreign countries, 50 states and 3400 districts shows Student Engagement Affects Test Performance. Tests may reflect engagement rather than learning levels.

Improve Learning for All Cognitive Types

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

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

Free Spirits? 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.

Play to Learn? In September 2018, AAP published The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children, reporting The importance of playful learning for children cannot be over-emphasized.

Family Knows Best? A grandmother reported reading The Amazing Flight of Little Ray as a bedtime story for her autistic grandson. When she returned to check on him, his new friend was off the bookshelf sweetening dreams.

Glow-Getters? Surprise energizes instruction. Inattentive, impulsive behaviors common with ADHD tend to compromise focus and willingness to start or finish work. Rigid, generalized teaching methods add conflict.

Holding Forth? Stealth and novelty draw students into classwork. They become restless and disengage from flat, visual chalkboard Common Core drills. Critical letter-to-sound associations for spelling receive no attention.

Current Affairs? The system must focus on learning and thinking rather than on graduation rates. Nobody wins in the central-learning meltdown. It is hard to support the lackluster classroom results from this confederation.

Natural Selection? A return to ancestral methods may lend improvement. Western education began and evolved with Germanic university teachings. Society may continue facing difficulties until learning resumes.

Declaration of Independence? Current rebellions for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” may foment discrimination perceptions. Girls, the poor and those with special needs or creative strengths are uprising.

Day-Care Operations? Students want to follow their passions. Supervision of independent online learning by trusted, licensed individuals, daily food provisions, safety oversight and basic discipline rules are trending.

Elimination? Cursive writing, music and art are gone. Math may be next. Finland is getting rid of all school subjects. It ranks among the best education systems in the world. The school day is short; graduation rates are high.

Takeaway? State collusion with big business takes a toll on individualism. Scrutiny of over-sized deals could restore accountability, self-governance, freedom of choice and turn the tables on under-performing service providers.