* Evidence-Based Practices and Strategies

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Evidence-Based Practices and Instruction 

When working with students with autism it is important to focus on their strengths and incorporate their interests into daily routines, schedules, everyday work, and play and leisure activities. In this section you will find visuals to help you understand:

  1. how to set up the physical organization of a classroom or work environment
  2. different types of individual schedules and mini schedules
  3. ways to structure independent and one-on-one work environments
  4. various learner-centered activities for preschool through middle/highschool

What are Evidence-based Practices?

Evidence-based practices (EBPs) are teaching strategies that research has shown to be effective.  Within the past five years several organizations have mad intensse efforts to review all of the research regarding working with students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).  Two major organizations include: The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders (NPDC on ASD) and The National Autism Center (NAC).  They both determined similar practices and provide extensive information on their websites.

The Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence (OCALI) includes Autism Internet Modules on all of the evidence-based practices established by NPDC on ASD.  These websites provide information and web training on the 24 established practices:


Antecedent-based Interventions
Computer Assisted Instruction
Differential Reinforcement
Discrete Trial Training
Functional Behavior Assessment
Functional Communication Training
Naturalistic Interventions
Parent-Implemented Interventions
Peer-Mediated Instruction/Intervention
Picture Exchange Communication System               
Pivotal Response Training

Response Interruption/Redirection                        
Social Narratives
Social Skills Training Groups
Speech Generating Devices
Structured Work Systems
Task Analysis
Time Delay
Video Modeling
Visual Supports


We have also provided a basic overview of some of the easier to implement foundational EBPs below.

Physical Organization

    image of book cases in preschool classroom  image of desk with computer positioned behind shelf

The physical environment is the first teacher because it give visual information to the students and helps them understand where activities will occur, therefore decreasing their level of anxiety. By using visual cues such as colored tape, bookcases, different colored table cloths or other dividers you increase the student’s understanding of the environment and enhance your communication of what is expected in different areas of the classroom.

Work areas are a key element in any classroom. Like other areas in the classroom they also need to have structure.

Click here to see examples of small group, one-on-one, and independent work areas.


  photo of hand written checklist    image of student class schedule

The use of individualized schedules is an essential component of helping students become independent and productive members of our community.


  • assist students with their understanding of time
  • increase our ability as teachers to incorporate reinforcement strategies
  • help to decrease anxiety by mapping out the activities of the day

There are several different types of schedules that can be used with students on the autism spectrum. While picture/word schedules are often the most popular, teachers should remember that what is popular and easy is not always the best for every student.

The first step in deciding what type of schedule to use with students is to determine their ability to gain meaning from 2-dementional versus 3-dimentional visual representations. If it is determined that a student has a preference for 3-dimensional materials then it is more appropriate to begin with an object schedule. The next level in hierarchy of visual representation is the True Object Based Icon (TOBI) with words followed by Photographs paired with the word, colored line drawings with words, black and white line drawings with words and finally a word schedule.

Oftentimes students need a mini schedule built into different parts of their day to help them understand the sequence of certain activities. Some common uses of mini schedules are field trips, bathroom routines, academic tasks, dressing, cooking, and errands in the community.

object     =>     TOBI     =>     photographs     =>     line drawings     =>     words

Click here to see examples of a variety of schedules.

Learner-Centered Activities

 image of file folder  game of pizza slices with numbers file folder game of bubble gum machine with letters

As with any student with a disability access to the general education curriculum is a requirement. In order to ensure that students achieve academically, we must spotlight learner-centered activities.

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