Friday, 13 April 2012

Autism and Whole Brain Teaching

Wednesday and Friday of this week I had the pleasure of having a lovely lady from POPARD (Provincial Outreach Program for Autism and Related Disorders) visit my classroom to observe one of my students.  She was so helpful and knowledgeable.  I appreciated her feedback.

When she heard me talk about Whole Brain Teaching to a parent, she was intrigued and asked me for more information.  She became interested in the program as she watched my student teacher teach the class using some of the WBT techniques.

In the staff room at lunch, she found and read my article - she was very complimentary to me and wanted to know more.

At the end of the day she mentioned how wonderful she thought WBT was for children with autism.  She loved how students taught their neighbour during the Teach/OK, as well as the gestures and visuals that went along with concepts.  She expressed that she was so happy to have learned so much.  I was inspired so I did a little refresher research on autism.

Autism is known as a spectrum disorder; autistic characteristics are expressed differently in each child.  Children with autism have difficulties with social and language skills; they learn a lot less from their environment and, therefore, benefit from a structured learning environment (

Whole Brain Teaching provides a variety of different teaching techniques that focus on using all different learning styles and multiple intelligences, thus meeting the learning needs of all the possible variances on the spectrum.  Currently, I have taught three children with different variations of autism.  Parents and teachers have commented on how well these students have benefited from WBT.

The Teach/OK! encourages social interaction and the development of language skills.  Speaking clearly and in complete sentences is encouraged.  Voice tone and inflection is practiced and utilized daily.  Students question each other, providing practice with reflective questioning and comprehension.

The repetition that WBT techniques suggest, such as Seats, Seats, Seats and Bodies Up! provides focused, clear directions for students who struggle with language.

Repetition and revisitation of key curricular concepts using WBT Power Pix and the WBT Power Pix wall ensure many opportunities for learning and review, as well as a rich visual environment.

A WBT model classroom encourages structure and thrives on routine - although there are many variations in style (Class! Yes!  Classity Class!), these changes are also consistent.

To all teachers: Whole Brain Teaching will change your life, and will benefit all your students, including your students with autism!  Check out the following posts on the Whole Brain Teaching forum from other teachers and their experience with WBT and children with autism/asperger's:


  1. Great article!! Teaching is a answered!!

  2. Actually I have been using WBT for two years now and have had the opposite effect this year with an inclusion student. Once he hears any of the "repeats" he can't stop shouting them out. For example, he shouts and echoes "Class, Yes" throughout the day. As both a National Board teacher in Exceptional Needs and Generalist Education, I know that the spectrum of autistic like behaviors encompasses many different levels. For this student, it has been challenging. I add this just so teachers are aware that while the program is absolutely terrific (I use Phases 1, 2 and 3) it is not the perfect solution for all students on the spectrum. Directions are clear but be aware that if your student goes through repetition speech, you may need to use a visual PECS or other solution to get them to stop at "3 peat" commands or to participate in "Teach, OK". My student in first grade, turns to his partner but will only repeat Teach Ok over and over.