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Supporting Online Learning for Students With Autism

Sallie Nowell, Victoria Waters, Becky Dees, Yolanda Perkins, Brianne Tomaszewski, Kara Hume, Jessica Steinbrenner, Ann Sam, Susan Szendrey, Lindsay Rentschler, & Sam Odom

Many schools across the country have moved to partial or full-time online instruction due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), creating uncertainty and stress for many families and students with autism. This is a challenging and overwhelming time for many families and students as they adjust to remote learning and navigate new learning platforms. The purpose of this resource is to provide strategies and resources that may support students with autism and their families as they get ready for the school year.

This guide addresses five key areas: (1) creating a learning space and limiting distractions, (2) creating a schedule, (3) accessing learning platforms, (4) supporting active participation and social connection, and (5) maintaining healthy habits and taking breaks. There are ideas and tips for each of the areas, as well as ready to use tools and resources to support students and their families in preparing for and adjusting to online learning.


Nowell, S., Waters, V., Dees, B., Perkins, Y., Tomaszewski, B., Hume, K., Steinbrenner, J., Sam, A., Szendrey, S., Rentschler, L., & Odom, S. (2020). Supporting online learning for students with autism. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute and School of Education. https://afirm.fpg.unc.edu/online-learning-resources