The one treatment for autism that has stood the test of time, and
is effective for all children, is a structured, educational program
geared to a person's developmental level of functioning. (Freeman
1993, p. 19)
Over the past 25 years, I have observed hundreds of teachers. I have learned from watching them that the most successful are those who are structured and organized, and who plan ahead. By successful, I mean there is clear engagement and motivation of students with fewer behavioral outbursts, increased time on task, individualization, and finally accountability for student performance. I have also seen that the best laid plans can go awry. Students with autism can be unpredictable and demanding, creating intense need for structure and consistency. I have come to realize that the teachers who fail to put time into planning, curriculum, and organization are the ones who have problems staying on top of things. I tend to see more behavioral and attentional problems in the students who are in these classrooms. Poor planning and organization only make the job more difficult, and that is the last thing we want for teachers.
Once the Individual Education Plan (IEP) is written, planning becomes a feature of mapping out incremental steps to this end. An