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Teaching Ice Skating to an Autistic Child Using Video Modeling

Strengths and Weaknesses of Autistic Learners

While many things remain unknown about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and its cause(s), one thing that is certain; by definition ASD is multifactorial, and not a pure genetic, cognitive development or emotional condition.  No two autistic children exhibit the same array and severity of behaviors. This fact is underscored by the diversity and number of projects that were completed on Autism by my fellow students in Project I., listed below.   

Given the spectrum, of advantages or impairments that individuals touched by ASD exhibit, (as described in the table entitled Profile of an ASD Learner presented in the project that preceded this one), when designing a physical education learning program for an autistic child, attention must be paid to ensure that the lesson plans are highly individualized to the learner’s needs while taking advantage of her/his relative strengths, as their physical needs are quite different (Reid, 2002) from those of typical learners.  


Specifically in designing a physical education lesson for a non-verbal autistic six year-old child like my nephew Tristan, some of his strengths to be leveraged in creating a self-modeled and easily replayable video are:

       intense and sustained visual attentiveness,

       visual acuity, especially of images of himself, children and family members,

       receptive langauage/listening skills especially for voices of family members, familiar therapists and favorite music,

       manual dexterity with a computer mouse and a tablet PC,

       takes pleasure from being being outside,

       enjoys activities that include motion, (i.e. climbing stairs, swinging, running, sliding)

       ability to easily acclimate himself  environmental conditions such as; temperature and precipitation,

      tactile and visual preoccupation with ice, snow and water, and

       repetitive stereotypic limb movements.


In addition to leveraging the strengths in designing the lesson, in order to be most effective I will have to scaffold Tristan's weaknesses of being:


        limited in verbal interactive communication skills including dyspraxia,

       occasionally prone to tantrums self-injurious behavior,(SIB),

       limited reciprocal interaction; i.e. turn taking especially with unfamiliar people,

        lacking a comprehensive a theory of mind,

       difficulties with motor planning,

       sensory integration difficulties; i.e. the feeling of putting on the requisite equipment (ice skates and helmet).