Repetitive and restricted behaviors also indicate a need for consistency and routine. To allow students to focus on areas of instruction and not need to expend too much attention on changes in the environment or in their daily schedule, organization is key. This means, partially, organization of the physical space. Items should be always stored in the same places and be readily available when needed. Also, a classroom schedule should be visible and consistently followed. As we all know, change is part of life, and even the most thoroughly planned schedule will face unforeseen events. When this does occur, time needs to be taken to explain the changes, validate student feelings, and pre-teach to any new expectations. These changes should be presented in the manner that the student can most readily process the information. This may be verbally, in writing, and/or visually.
Difficulty accepting mistakes is another component of restricted/repetitive behaviors that can impact learning. Classic instruction techniques and evaluative assessments through worksheets and written tests may be highly stress-producing and lead to maladaptive behaviors for some of our ASD students. Be creative in instruction and assessment methods by using manipulatives for learning; displays of knowledge can be more engaging (as well as meet some sensory needs). Also, using white boards or even dry erase markers on desktops or tabletops, if the surfaces are appropriate, can easily allow for the removal of errors and make the lesson more fun and less stressful. Embrace hands-on learning and assessing to get a true understanding of the students’ abilities and knowledge.