A Guide for Teachers and Paraprofessionals Working with Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Debra Hanson


Asperger Syndrome; Autistic Disorder; Child Development Disorders, Pervasive; Occupational Therapy -- methods; Rett Syndrome; Child


The purpose of this scholarly project was to create a resource for occupational therapists in the public school system to provide a guide to educators and paraprofessionals working with children with autism spectrum disorder. The resulting guide for the occupational therapist provides the necessary materials to develop child specific guides for the educator and paraprofessional. The product provides education and guidance to optimize the educator and paraprofessional's ability to provide for the needs of a child with autism spectrum disorder in the school environment.

A comprehensive literature review was conducted to examine current best practice and treatment guidelines for autism spectrum disorder, the impact of autism spectrum disorder on the educator and paraprofessional, and also common symptoms and their effects on occupational functioning for the child. The literature revealed educators and paraprofessionals need an understanding of autism spectrum disorder and specific strategies to support the unique needs of children with autism spectrum disorder in the classroom. Research also demonstrated sensory challenges impact the educational performance of children with autism spectrum disorder.

Specific focus was therefore placed on background information needed by the educator and paraprofessional so they can better understand and interpret the needs of the child to optimize their performance in the classroom. Emphasis was given to providing educators and paraprofessionals the opportunity to gain insight into the effectiveness of strategies used to improve the child's occupational performance. The Ecology of Human Performance (EHP) Model guided the development of two products with focus on the role of context in task performance and the intervention strategies to support performance. The guide for the occupational therapist serves as a collaborative tool to create a child specific guide for the educator and paraprofessional.

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