Engaging Writers on the Autism Spectrum

Teachers, Profs, Parents: Writers Who Care

Laura Sabella, Ph.D., University of South Florida

A Teacher’s Discovery

Ashley is an 8th grade language arts teacher in a mainstream class. She prides herself on offering myriad fun writing assignments to which most of her students respond enthusiastically, and most students are engaged. However, Ashley struggles to find writing opportunities that engage Ben, a student on the autism spectrum. Ben does not like to write in her class, refusing to even hold a pencil or use a keyboard.  Instead of writing, he wanders the classroom yelling how stupid the writing assignments are or talking about elevators, which distracts the other students and puts Ashley on behavior management alert. All total, Ashley can point to perhaps three or four sentences Ben has produced in writing in her class all year.

And then, in a parent conference, Ashley hears Ben’s mother again mention the elevators about which Ben rambles constantly…

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