Unique Learning Challenges Associated with ASD

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often experience challenges in learning, as they process information in a unique way. As we continue to learn about the autism spectrum and related developmental delays, we have a better understanding of these challenges, resulting in more effective methods of intervention. Below is a list of common learning challenges that are associated with ASD. Many of these areas can be addressed through applied behavior analysis (ABA therapy), which is an evidence-based method for building positive behaviors (and resolving problematic behaviors).

Children with ASD tend to focus on objects or other nonsocial information, such as lights or patterns. This is compared to children who follow typical development, who are much more aware and pay more attention to people and their gestures, faces, and voices. Therapeutic programs can help direct children with ASD to interact and engage with people around them, including peers, teachers, and therapists.

Social Motivation
Usually, children who follow typical development want to share experiences with other peers in the classroom. However, children with ASD tend to lack the motivation to participate in social interactions. They normally prefer spending time alone. Therapeutic programs can help children with ASD interact with their peers through activities such as circle time, art, and gross motor play.

Use of Gesture
It can be difficult for children with autism to understand and respond to communicative gestures. They may also find it challenging to use gestures to communicate with others. In group therapy, they will have the opportunity to have support to express what they are doing and share those experiences with their peers within the classroom.

Children on the autism spectrum often struggle with imitating sounds and actions of others (which is an important stage of early childhood development). In a therapeutic preschool program, children will receive one-on-one attention from therapists and teachers who can help them to develop imitation skills through activities such as pretend play or reading.

Arousal and Sensory Sensitivities
Children with autism can be easily overstimulated. This can result in sensitivities to light, touches, and sounds. Within therapeutic programs, there are opportunities for children on the spectrum to participate in sensory activities that can help with their sensitivities. This might be achieved through sensory integration exercises.

Children with ASD are highly capable of learning, they just have a different way of doing so. These children tend to respond well to strategies that take into account their unique learning styles, and with therapeutic programs, they can overcome many of their challenges and become more socially engaged and motivated.


If you have further questions regarding autism and therapeutic preschool programs, contact CST Academy by clicking the purple button below or calling 773-620-7800. We also provide a wide range of services including speech therapy, occupational therapy and ABA therapy.