Students with Autism and ADHD show how all students would  benefit with less baggage in schools displayed at 50% of viewport width.
January 2019 by V. R. Duin


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 could help literacy programs end standard lessons and testing to improve learning for all cognitive types.

Branding? Learning 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 marketing appearance.

Creative Class? Education 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 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.

Ray's the Game? Rhyming matters. A teacher reported the reading aloud of V. R. Duin's The Amazing Flight of Little Ray elicited verbal response from a developmentally-challenged student in her class for the first time.

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

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. For this reason, active rhyme engages challenged-to-advanced students with a rollicking language presentation style to stimulate learning abilities.

Color Guard? Visual stimulus enhances learning. Children view surroundings to organize and understand them. Pictures and step-by-step lessons connect visual thinkers to the world, helping them see and learn.

Autism is a different way of thinking. It tends to focus thought, intensify emotions and cloud communication. Students with autism and ADHD challenge uniform Common Core state-led math and language programs.

Sand Castles? Centralized conformity causes stress. Children do not fit into one box or learn the same way. The NCLB of 2001 launched standardization and pressure to advance disadvantaged students. It is not working.

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

Help Literacy Programs

Common Core is promoted by Pearson Education. This near-monopoly, private behemoth retains post-sale cash-flow interests in courseware. This 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 systems for primary, middle or higher education.

Wild Country? 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.

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.

Shore Leave? 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.

Uniform Look? Standardization may hurt learning by children of diverse cognition. Government Barriers stifle learning quality and morale. The focus should be to develop individual talents rather than spread mass thinking.

Luminaries? Students feel trapped in courses set by law. Teaching formats benefit the assessment-result manipulations. Force-fed school subjects meet with resistance, stifling passion required for learning success.

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

Peak Season? Standardization causes students to disengage and “hate” school. Extra time for test completion accommodated a recent college entrance cheating scandal. Test answers also may be purchased or doctored.

End Standard Lessons and Testing

Spillover? Discontent transcends classrooms. Harvard Political Review, reports parents of stressed and disheartened children have accelerated The Case Against Standardized Testing to encourage creativity and individualism.

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

Wait and See? 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.

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 teaching approaches for their children.

Beach Day? Flaws and mishaps disrupt testing. Content may be poorly worded or hold developmentally inappropriate material. 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 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.

Sheer Luck?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.

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 and impulsive behavior common with ADHD tends to compromise focus and ability to start or finish work. Generalized subjects and rigid teaching methods add conflict.

Holding Forth? Stealth and novelty draw students into classwork. They become restless and disengaged with flat, visual chalkboard Common Core drills lacking in critical letter-to-sound associations for spelling.

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 of 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 directions for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” foment rebellion over perceived discrimination against girls, the poor and those with special needs or creative strengths.

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.