Understanding and Supporting the Executive Functioning of Autistic Students

 

Recent prevalence estimates indicate that 1 in 36 school-age children have autism. Autistic students are much more likely than non-autistic students to experience mental health challenges, including difficulty with emotion regulation, anxiety, and depression that may be exacerbated by experiences of bullying, victimization, and segregation within schools. There is an urgent need to support the mental and behavioral health of autistic students.

 

In the past six months, our team has disseminated resources related to identifying and supporting mental health challenges in this population, with a specific emphasis on executive function. These products, including webinars and infographics, provide an overview of executive function differences that are common in autistic students, as well as strategies to support key aspects of executive function, such as emotion regulation and flexibility. 

 

Webinars

 

Understanding and Supporting the Executive Functioning of Autistic Students 

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the most common co-occurring diagnosis for autistic youth. However, the substantial overlap between autism and ADHD can pose challenges in identifying and supporting students with autism, ADHD, or both. The goal of this webinar series is to provide information about executive functioning differences that are common in autistic students and how these challenges relate to and are distinct from ADHD.

 

Part I: Understanding executive functioning differences among autistic students with and without co-occurring ADHD 

Part 1 will help participants to understand common executive functioning differences in autistic students and how these differences relate to ADHD.

 

Part II: Evidence-based approaches to support the executive functioning of autistic students

Part 2 will provide an overview of evidence-based approaches that can be used to support the executive functioning of autistic students, including those with co-occurring ADHD.

 

Infographics 

 

Common Executive Function Differences in Autistic Students and Why They Matter at School 

1 in 36 school-age children have autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Autistic students are much more likely than non-autistic students to experience mental health challenges, including difficulty with executive functioning.  This infographic provides an overview of common executive function differences in autistic students and why these differences matter for school.

 

Strategies to Support Executive Function in Autistic Students 

 

Part I: Emotion Regulation 

Recent prevalence estimates indicate that 1 in 36 school-age children have autism. Autistic students are much more likely than non-autistic students to experience mental health challenges, including difficulty with emotion regulation.  This infographic provides information about strategies educators can use to support autistic students that experience emotion regulation challenges in a manner that is inclusive and neurodiversity-affirming.

 

Strategies to Support Executive Function in Autistic Students: Flexibility 

Recent prevalence estimates indicate that 1 in 36 school-age children have autism. Autistic students are much more likely than non-autistic students to experience mental health challenges, including difficulty with flexibility.  This infographic provides information about strategies that can be used by educators to help autistic students navigate situations that differ from their expectations. This infographic includes how to teach these flexibility strategies in a manner that is inclusive and neurodiversity affirming.

 


In our products, we choose to use identity first language (i.e., autistic students) in response to the preference of many autistic individuals and in an effort to avoid ableist ideologies. We recognize that this is not the language preference of every individual. For more information on the rationale for our language choice, please see the Bottema-Beutel et al., 2021.