Steps in How to Learn a Skill with ASD

Copyright 2011 Autism Spectrum Directory. All Rights Reserved.

How to Learn in general

How you receive information (sensory pathway)

How you process information

With an Autism Spectrum Disorder, the way your brain processes information is delayed in development

Which type of treatment/intervention/therapy should you use to learn a new skill?

Although there are many different types of treatments, interventions or therapies for the Autism Spectrum (essentially methods or ways to teach you how to learn), they all pretty much use a Systems-based approach to the learning process with the differences being how they motivate you to learn and how the information you are supposed to learn is presented to your sensory pathways.

So if you can’t afford these therapies:

Applied behavior analysis (ABA), Pivotal response therapy (PRT), Verbal Therapy, Floortime, Relationship Development Intervention (RDI), The Son-Rise Program, TEEACH method

but you still want to learn skills, you can still do it with a system called the Helix of Continuous Improvement.

A Systems-based way to Learn Skills

The Helix of Continuous Improvement:   Evaluate – Plan – Do – Check – Amend

Step 1: Evaluate

-> Assess how you best receive information through which sensory pathway (visual, aural,verbal,physical)

-> Assess how you best process information in your brain (logically with processes and systems, or observationallyand experientially with other people)

-> Assess the competency of where your skills are at this present time through testing (developmental milestones, achievement tests, etc.)

-> Define Goals/Objectives of what new skills you want to learn or what skills you will need to modify (goals can be listed in Individual Education Plan or IEP)

Step 2: Plan

-> Plan the Processes

1. Choose the Information that you want to learn

Personal interest

Skill lists

Developmental milestones


2. Create Task-analyzed chains (a step 1, step 2, step 3, etc list) for each skill

(example, Skill: Washing hair   Tasks: 1. shampoo first, 2. rinse, 3. conditioner second, 4. rinse)


Schedules/Visual Schedules

Stories/Social Stories/Visual Scripts


Written instructions – WikiHowHow To Do ThingsWonder How ToeHow

Video instructions – HowCasteHow VideosGoogle VideosVideoJugYouTube,WonderHowToSuTree5 min VideopediaVideo Podcasts (vodcasts)

3. To provide motivation to complete each step well, plan to offer a reward such as verbal praise after the successful completion of each step

-> Plan the Inputs

Choose Information Tools to present the information to you that use the Sensory Pathway that works best for you:

visual tools – pictures/images, videos, flashcards, picture books, social stories with imagescharts,diagramssocial script graphics

aural tools – sound, voice, music, songs, podcasts, radio, someone speaking instructions to you, audiobooks

verbal tools – words, speaking, writing, read out loud, re-write out the instructions/checklist/story

physical tools – body, hands, touch, act out what to do, touch objects as you are going through the process, build or create a project that represents the process, play games

multi-sensory tools – iPad/iPhone apps, games

Step 3: Do

-> Provide the Inputs

Use the tools to provide the information

-> Operate the Processes

Go through each of the steps in the process of the skill (step 1, step 2, step 3, etc)

Step 4: Check

-> Evaluate the outputs

Did you follow the sensory path that you best receive information from?

Did you use the right tools for that sensory path?

-> Examine the performance of the process

Were you able to complete each step in the process successfully?

Step 5: Amend

-> Modify the input

Look at the tools you are using and if the do not work consider modifying or using a different tools

-> Modify the process

Is the process correct – are you missing steps in the process?

Is the process too simple – have you broken down the process into enough steps?

Is the process too complicated – do you have to many steps in the process?

Step 6: Repeat the Helix of Continuous Improvement

Evaluate – Plan – Do – Check – Amend

On average it takes 6 times to repeat through the helix of continuous improvement before you master a skill.

Copyright 2011 Autism Spectrum Directory. All Rights Reserved.


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