Finding the intersection between interest, ability, and autism!


I have been repeating the ‘presume competence’ mantra all year and, as a result, I have been working to create lessons that are:

  1. high interest
  2. relevant to the student
  3. accessible to the student
  4. age-appropriate
  5. related to the general education curriculum (adapted from books/materials/topic that the general education classes use or addresses an essential element of the standards)

This is not easy. It takes a lot of creativity, time and effort to develop meaningful lessons that meet the criteria. Sometimes I can’t meet all of the criteria, but I think students benefit from the attempt even if I fall a bit short.

One of my students this year is both very smart and very autistic. He doesn’t perform well with academic or communication tasks unless he is motivated and interested in the material. I allowed him to choose a book to study out of a field of 5-6 high interest teen novels. He chose J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

I have been working to develop visuals/summaries for the student to use alongside the book, along with worksheets that target the student’s IEP goals. I will include examples of both to download below. The student listens to the book using Learning Ally while following along with the text. Occasionally, I will read a chapter to him. I also supplement the chapters with clips from the movie.

hp ch 2

Sample summary, including spelling/AAC words and visuals of the characters.

I have been pleased with the student’s reactions to the novel study so far. He continues to show interest in the book–if he sees me working on the summaries or worksheets, he will often pace behind me to monitor what I am doing!

If you would like to include adapted books in your curriculum for students with disabilities, you don’t have to recreate the wheel like I am doing. There are websites available that offer adapted books in a variety of formats. One such website is through the Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities and can be found here: . Make sure you preview the books before you assign them, since some are better than others.

Enjoy, and happy reading!

HP worksheets

HP summary


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