Recent studies using brain scans suggest many people with autism find it difficult to tune out irrelevant details in order to focus on what is important. This difference in processing information needs to be considered when teaching a person with autism. A lesson is more likely to be retained if it is simple and focused, with plenty of opportunity for repetition.
Whilst people with autism may struggle with conventional teaching methods, there is substantial evidence they have strengths when it comes to processing visual information. In fact, visual imagery has been used to encourage students to initiate social exchanges (Krantz and McClannahan 1998), to spend more time on tasks and to complete those tasks correctly (Bryan and Gast, 2000) as well as to behave in a more appropriate way (Massey and Wheeler, 2000).
The Picture Exchange System (PECS) is a visual resource popular among educators of students with autism. PECS is a way for people to communicate without relying on speech. Instead, they use cards with pictures, symbols or words that represent tasks, actions or objects.
In addition to PECS, educators often use flashcards to teach students with autism. Flashcards are a key part of most Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) programs. Studies show ABA assists with social, communication and self-care skills.