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Strategies to Support Students

It is worth considering harnessing your student’s special interests to build engagement with learning tasks. For example, creating worded mathematical problems which refer to a favourite football team.

Some people may find restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour and interest difficult to understand or confronting to observe. For example, a teacher may not be sure how to respond to a student who rocks from side to side in the classroom. However, the social discomfort of others is not a good reason for trying to change the behaviour.  


If you are considering intervening to reduce or prevent a student’s repetitive behaviour, consider three criteria:

  • Is the behaviour harmful or dangerous?
  • Is the behaviour interfering with learning?
  • Is the behaviour seriously inappropriate?

If intervention is absolutely necessary, consider the goal of the intervention. A realistic initial goal may be reduce the incidence of a behaviour, or support the student to use the behaviour only in certain situations. Many repetitive behaviours are used by students with ASD as a strategy for self-calming. Self-calming behaviours are not easily discontinued or replaced. Discuss the behaviour with the Student Support Group. Examine whether addressing the behaviour could reasonably become one of the student’s learning goals.

The following guidelines may be helpful when addressing restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour or activity.


Patience is important. Habits are hard to break. Remember that this repetitive behaviour, interest, or activity is a part of the student’s disorder and therefore not something the student has chosen.