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By Dallan Hunt

We all have different strengths and weaknesses, and we all learn differently. Understanding how your child learns is important in order to give them the best support they need on their journey through school and beyond. Understanding Learning Differences is a series that dives into some of the differences that neurodivergent students face today. Here we will showcase Autism, one of the most common neurodivergence we see.

Overview – What is Autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a condition related to brain development that impacts how a person perceives the world and socializes with others. They often find comfort in repetitive behaviors and interests, and may have different ways of learning, moving, or paying attention. These differences don’t mean success is out of reach, as many remarkable individuals have been suspected to be autistic, like Albert Einstein and Emily Dickenson; more recently, Britain’s Got Talent’s Susan Boyle, and actor Anthony Hopkins have been diagnosed. Sometimes these differences may also cause problems in social interaction and communication. People affected typically also have sensory processing issues or anxiety that can overwhelm them and affect their daily lives.

There is a wide range of symptoms and severity. It’s still widely unknown what causes autism, but this is what we do know:

  • 1 in 44 children are diagnosed with some form of autism.
  • Boys are 4 times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls.
  • Autism diagnoses are up dramatically since 2000. Expert think the increase is due to an increase in awareness and testing, and an increase in the number of autistic children in general.
  • Important note: many children growing up through the pandemic without typical social exposure may exhibit similar behaviors that mimic early signs of autism. These may resolve themselves naturally over time, but careful monitoring is important to see if the signs are related to autism.
  • Autism, ADHD, and anxiety often go together. For example, a child with autism may fidget more noticeably, which is also a sign of ADHD. They may also struggle with sensory input like loud noises or bright lights, which relates to Sensory Processing Disorder.

For these reasons, a correct diagnosis is critical.


Do You Have Questions About Your Child?

Diagnosing children with Autism as early as possible is important to get the correct support in place. Typically, it begins with monitoring a child’s growth and understanding whether they are reaching developmental milestones.

This involves consulting with the family doctor for initial developmental screenings. If needed, a full assessment can be done by someone such as a developmental pediatrician or child psychologist.

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How Sylvan Helps

Sylvan has supported families with autistic children for years, and for several reasons:


  1. We personalize each and every learning program.
    • Thanks to our Insight™ Assessment that gives us an in-depth look at each student’s academic profile, we’re able to create an individualized learning plan that’s unique to each student.
    • Our qualified tutors break instruction into smaller steps, adjusting to each child’s individual needs.
    • Students are encouraged to work at their own pace so learning is engaging and never frustrating.
    • Students can always ask questions when needed
  2. We can offer consistent routine so students know what to expect.
    • Teachers can explain to the child what will happen during the session, and let them know if there will be a change.
    • Each tutoring session is structured to include both one-on-one guided practice and independent practice.
    • Learning is always motiving because students have the ability to earn tokens for trying their best, allowing them to save and use their tokens towards prizes.
  3. We provide a comfortable learning environment.
    • Students can enjoy alternate seating, such as standing or the use of a wiggle seat.
    • Students can have stretch breaks.
    • If needed, our centers have separate rooms that are quieter and less bright.

Rest assured, Sylvan Learning recognizes the importance of learning differences when it comes to teaching children. Autism can significantly affect how your child learns. Recognizing the signs are important, as early intervention through monitoring, family doctor screening and assessments can identify how your child best learns.

Understanding how your child learns is the key to helping them reach their potential. Sylvan knows this well. We’re here to support each and every family achieve success!

To discuss your family’s needs, find your local Sylvan today!



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