TeachNow Case Study Involving Potential Developmental Delay Module 3 Unit 3 Activity 3

Case Study Involving Developmental Delay /Potential Autism

Student A is a lovely male, 3 year old that appears to have some learning challenges. The student exhibits below average motor skills, seems to have anxiety when speaking, and has difficulty learning and following social rules of the classroom.

Due to his age, it’s unclear if the developmental delay in his mental growth is permanent, but I feel that it’s in his best interest to design a student-centered learning plan for him in my classroom through my case study (British Columbia: Ministry of Education, n.d.) (Elberly Center, n.d.).

Challenge 1: Motor Control

Benchmarks for 2-3 year olds that Student A has not yet achieved include:

  • Kicks a ball  (partial completion)
  • Throws ball overhand  (partial completion) 

***All Benchmarks come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last updated in 2017.

Over 8 months, I`ve observed Student A`s motor capabilities. While he has improved a lot, tasks that require specific sequences such as kicking a ball, tying his shoes, and throwing a ball overhead are still difficult. One possible strategy would be to break a task like kicking a ball into a sequence while using verbal cues (usually not necessary) as a reminder of the sequence (Gorzycki, 2015)&(Grandin, 2002.) For example:

How to kick a ball

1.Student A stands in front of the ball.

2. I tell Student A to life up his leg. I model lifting up the leg I want him to lift up.

3. If he doesn’t lift it up, I help him lift it up gently.

4. I tell him to kick the ball, and I model how to kick the ball with my lifted leg.

5. If he doesn’t kick the ball, I use his foot to nudge the ball.

6. I give him positive praise for kicking the ball.

Another way to improve motor coordination and also Student A`s social ability is to encourage him to use toys. Many children improve their motor coordination through playing with toys, but Student A has little interest in toys. However, student-centered teaching has a solution for this. First, I have to find an interest of his. I know Student A loves music, so he should want to play with toys that create music (McCarthy, 2015). One of those adorable child xylophones where a child must hold onto the mallet would improve his coordination. It would also encourage turn taking behaviour because he`s not the only child in the classroom who loves music.


Challenge 2: Anxiety When Speaking 

The issue with Student A`s willingness to speak is two-fold. Student A has difficulty getting his needs met because he won`t verbalise his needs. In addition, he seems anxious when in front of a group, but he often talks to me during lunch. This indicates that he can talk, but something is causing him to go selectively mute- potentially anxiety or low self-confidence. Or, he might simply not understand that speech is how you get your needs met (Grandin, 2002) (Autism Speakers, 2012).

To reduce his anxiety, my goal is to build his confidence. One strategy recommended is to provide pictures or some sort of touch aid when doing a speaking task. This allows you to still praise the student and hopefully build their confidence enough to participate (Autism Speakers, 2012). For example, our curriculum involves testing number recognition. During a number recognition task, I usually ask the students, “What number is this?”, but Student A will just sit there silently. However, I can say instead, “Can you find number 10?” that way he can complete a touch task which he seems very confident doing. I can give him praise for that before lightly asking the, “What number is this question?” and then give him the answer in English if he doesn`t respond. That way he still understands the expectation is that he speaks, but he can build confidence and enjoy the activity still because he got praise. I don`t want him to associate learning tasks with failure by withdrawing praise unless speech is used.

Student A also doesn`t communicate verbally when he is thirsty, hot, cold, tired, or even hungry. Many students struggling with communication think in pictures (Grandin, 2002). I think in my room at student level, I should put visual aids showing someone drinking water, sweating, or sleeping. That way if Student A is distressed, I can show him the visual aids and then say the English as I ask, “Are you sleepy?”. He then could then touch the card that he`s feeling, and I would model the sentence in English. By having me, the teacher, model using English to get needs met, Student A might begin to connect speech with receiving thing. Plus, it would allow Student A to communicate without frustration.


Challenge 3: Difficulty Following Social Norms

Student A has improved his social skills from the beginning of the year. Previously, he wouldn`t even touch another child, but now he wants to interact with other students. He`s taken to repeating the names of students he likes, and he even gets excited when a student he likes comes into the room and claps. That`s fantastic progress, but he still struggles with not touching kids inappropriately on their faces and taking turns both are important, social milestones (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017).

One way for him to develop the ability to take turns is to role-play  the activity in various situations. My students enjoy jumping from hula hoop to hula hoop during playtime. Since Student A enjoys this activity, I should make sure that he`s being allowed to practice turn taking and not skipping the line- which he often does. I can repeat this process with the students blowing bubbles on the playground and in class with activities. Consistent discipline and exposure to turn taking in multiple areas should re-enforce the social concept (Autism, 2012).

As for practicing not touching others faces as a form of greeting, I can model an alternative greeting like asking for a hug verbally and then have Student A do the same which would help Student A connect words with getting needs met. This is a form of role-play which is a student-centered learning strategy that has been show to be very effective in engaging students (Markusic, 2012). Alternatively when telling him not to touch others on their faces, I should have discipline cards that show the proper greeting behaviour like a high-five, hello, or hug and the improper behaviour touching in the face. The extra visual aid should help reinforce the social rules (Grandin, 2012).

Applying student-centered learning strategies to my lesson plans should allow Student A to build confidence, learn important developmental skills, and hopefully create and more engaged and enjoyable class for Student A (Gorzycki, 2015). Let`s try it out!


Autism Speakers. (2012) Educating students with autism. Retrieved  from https://www.autismspeaks.org/sites/default/files/sctk_educating_students_with_autism.pdf

British Columbia: Ministry of Education. (n.d.) Teaching Students with Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disoder. Retrieved from  https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/education/kindergarten-to-grade-12/teach/teaching-tools/inclusive/teaching-students-with-adhd.pdf

 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017) Developmental milestones. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/index.html

Elberly Center. (n.d.) Case Studies. Retrieved from https://www.cmu.edu/teaching/designteach/teach/instructionalstrategies/casestudies.html

Gorzycki, M. (2015). Student-Centered teaching. Retrieved from https://ctfd.sfsu.edu/content/student-centered-teaching

Grandin, T. (2002). Teaching tips for children and adults with autism. Retrieved from http://teaching.monster.com/benefits/articles/8761-22-tips-forteaching-students-with-autism-spectrum-disorders

Markusic, M. (2012). Placing the learner at the center of instruction. Retrieved from http://www.brighthubeducation.com/teaching-methods-tips/5486-learner-centered-instruction-over-teacher-centered-instruction/

McCarthy, J. (2015). Student-Centered learning: It starts with the teacher. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/student-centered-learning-starts-with-teacher-john-mccarthy


Do you want to check out other plans for other teachers in my cohort? Check out this link http://tnjancohort02.pbworks.com/w/page/123669684/FrontPage



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