If you have a child with autism, you know there are differences in how they learn. Due to their individual strengths and preferences, autistic children see and learn about themselves and the world through their own unique lens.
Understanding how autism affects learning allows parents, educators, and caretakers to support autistic individuals in their lifelong process of learning.
In this blog, we’ll look at the following:
- Does autism count as a learning disability?
- Can autism make learning difficult?
- Can autism affect academic performance?
- Can autism affect comprehension?
- Can children with ASD have cognitive delays? How?
- Why do autistic students need visual support?
- How does autism affect visual processing?
- Does autism affect concentration?
- What is the main learning barrier for students with autism?
Does Autism Count as a Learning Disability?
No, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is not a learning disability; it’s a developmental disorder. That said, around half of the individuals with an autism diagnosis also have learning disabilities. It’s easy to categorize autism as a learning disability due to its impact on learning, often hindering a person’s educational development.
Can Autism Make Learning Difficult?
Being a neurodevelopmental disorder, autism impacts the cognitive processes of autistic children and adults. The differences in how the brain interprets information can create barriers to language and communication skills. A child with autism may take longer to pick up new skills or need individualized approaches to learning.
Can Autism Affect Academic Performance?
Children with autism often face unique challenges in school and learning overall. They may need more time to understand concepts or an IEP (Individualized Education Plan). On top of delays in cognitive development, autistic children are affected by other hindrances, such as sensory issues and behavior problems.
Can Autism Affect Comprehension?
In learning, autistic children may struggle with interpreting texts, social interactions, abstract ideas or literary devices (metaphors, idioms, sarcasm), and understanding instructions.
If a child with autism has additional conditions, such as learning disabilities, this can create further challenges in comprehension. For example, disabilities, including dyslexia or ADHD, can negatively impact reading skills or focus.
Can Children with ASD Have Cognitive Delays? How?
Sometimes autistic individuals have a co-existing cognitive delay, which can impact their learning and education.
Within educational programs, cognitive delays can also be supported through various supports, such as academic services through an IEP.
Cognitive delays, which can also be labeled as Intellectual Disabilities, can present from mild to moderate to severe. If an autistic child has an ID, its impact on that child’s life will depend on different factors, such as the severity of autism, medical and genetic conditions, and if they are attending therapy or other developmental treatments.
Why do Autistic Students Need Visual Support?
Because the brain processes information differently in those with autism, visual supports can aid comprehension of new information. While not always the case, many autistic children are visual learners. Especially when accompanied by spoken information, visuals, and tangible learning, they can work directly with new concepts.
Visual support in learning may look like the following:
- Drawings or art
- Toys or objects
- Visual schedule or calendar
How Does Autism Affect Visual Processing?
Autism and visual impairment are closely related and have been seen to coexist in individuals. Aside from actual eyesight problems, autism affects visual processing in other ways.
Visually, autistic people may struggle to understand the meaning behind their surroundings, environment, and pictures.
Does Autism Affect Concentration?
Individuals with autism tend to have a hard time paying attention to things they lack interest in. That’s why individualized learning and tools like play therapy are effective in education and developing skills.
How much autism impacts concentration depends on where a person is on the spectrum. People with autism may find it difficult to concentrate because of problems with sensory processing, interpreting information, and attention regulation.
What is the Main Learning Barrier for Students with Autism?
Students with autism may need extra support in learning different subjects, possibly requiring an IEP or special education. Besides the educational aspects of a student’s life, autistic children often face challenges with social skills, including difficulties with:
- Picking up on social cues
- Making and maintaining a conversation
- Building and maintaining relationships
- Being consistent with plans
- Interrupting or keeping attention
- Maintaining eye contact
- Difficulty verbally communicating
Building connections with others and maintaining friendships during the school years is essential. While autistic students may have more difficulty with social interactions than their peers, this doesn’t mean they won’t find their own friendships and groups.
Ally Pediatric Therapy’s ABA Program
Ally Pediatric offers the ABA Therapy Program for children with developmental disabilities. Our treatments focus on building positive behaviors and improving skills used in daily life for ongoing growth and lifelong success.
Please reach out today to learn more about how we can serve you and your family.