Students with Autism and ADHD show how all students would  benefit with less baggage in schools displayed at 50% of viewport width.
January 2021 by Terry Verduin


Those on the autism spectrum
need adventures that aren't ho-hum
and prefer fun, rhyming word flows
over straightforward-sounding prose.

COVID-19 and students with autism and ADHD may help literacy programs end standardized lessons and testing to improve learning for all cognitive types.


Autism? This different way of thinking tends to focus thought, intensify emotions and cloud communication. Unwavering state-led math and language programming drills turn off all independent minds.

Masters of Suspense? Autistic children often have an acute sense for metrics and patterns. They detect subtle patterns in math, music and rhyming text. This power enables savants to manipulate numbers at machine-like speed.

Sharp Note? Some students process sounds better than visuals. Whether challenged or advanced, active rhyme engages these learners. Rollicking language presentation widely stimulates listening interest.

Family Knows Best? A grandmother reported reading The Amazing Flight of Little Ray as a bedtime story for her autistic grandson. When she returned to check on him, his new friend was off the bookshelf sweetening dreams.

Learning Pace

Net Worth? Patterns guide learning. Autism reveals a link between rhythm, rhyme and the development of analytic and memory skills. These precise building-block signals may lead educators, parents and others to awareness.

Ray's the Game? Rhyming matters. An elementary school teacher discovered a classroom reading aloud of The Amazing Flight of Little Ray elicited the first-ever verbal response from a special needs student.

Glow-Getters? Surprise energizes instruction. Inattentive, impulsive behaviors common with ADHD tend to compromise focus and willingness to start or finish work. Rigid, generalized teaching methods add conflict.

Free Spirits? Behaviors are likely to improve when work is interesting and fun. Students on the autism spectrum may show the way to better social interaction. A halt to mindless copying may work wonders for all students.


Golden Hour? Rhythm and rhyme encode letter sounds and math formulas. As students with ADHD sense nuances, they may squirm in their seats, wiggle their feet or tap on their desks. Classmates may grasp the connection.

Master Class? Sounds unnoticed by others may be disruptive for ADHD individuals. Class bells and school announcements may unnerve sensitive students. Awareness is needed. Differences must be accepted and respected.

Hidden Assets? Individuals on the autism spectrum often have attachments. Involvement may be piqued by lessons structured around preferred objects or subjects. Half of children with autism spectrum disorders also have ADHD.

Beach Bums? One half of students fail standardized examinations. A small percentage of these students have autism or ADHD. These students may have no learning disability. Many of them have above-average intelligence.

COVID-19 Lessons

Creative Class? Teaching requires customization. Idaho is providing a flexible-learning payment to seventh graders. Funds can be spent for any need. This offers greater benefit than most COVID-19 home learning pods.

Swiss-Style Learning? The Idaho public school system looked to this model in allowing students to opt into college credits, pursue a trade, seek internship or certification or receive one-on-one developmental services.

Mass Exodus? Public and private school systems need to come up with an improved learning system that beats staying at home. If students do not return after COVID-19 quarantine and virtual learning, schools cannot rebuild.

Sand Castles? Centralized conformity causes stress. Children do not fit into one box or learn the same way. The NCLB of 2001 launched standardized pressure to advance disadvantaged students in the U.S.A., with poor results.

Pre-COVID-19 Standardization

Wild Country? ESSA replaced NCLB in 2015. The provisions did not eliminate periodic, uniform testing or diminish school accountability for student performance. Decentralized education in the U.S.A. is lost to testing.

Impenetrable? Pearson Education Limited promotes standardization. This near-monopoly, private British behemoth derives income from systemization. Money perpetuates its stronghold over assessment and certification.

Just Dessert? Pearson is the no-bid winner in many countries. It certifies teachers, grades tests, tracks behavior, diagnoses and treats ADHD. Pearson is the primary world-wide test scorer across 10 grade levels.

Takeaway? State collusion with big business takes a toll on individualism. Scrutiny of over-sized deals could restore accountability, self-governance, freedom of choice and turn the tables on under-performing service providers.

Pre-COVID-19 Testing

Glory Daze? The OECD Test for Schools consists of reading, math, and science tests given every three years to more than 500,000 fifteen-year-olds in over seventy countries. Centrally-educated students trend well in testing.

Luminaries? The system may be the sole beneficiary of assessment-result manipulations. Students feel trapped in force-fed school subjects set by law. The resulting resistance stifles quests for knowledge or experience.

Dark Period? The College Board owns, develops and publishes SAT admission exam sin 175 countries to test math, reading, writing and language skills. About 45% of U.S.A. students meet college-ready benchmarks.

Peak Season? Relentless, standard test fixations cause students to disengage and “hate” school. Extra time granted for completion accommodated a recent college admission scandal. Test answers can be purchased or doctored.

Help Literacy Programs

Experiments include: mentoring, visual stimulation, peer modeling and individual tutoring. Parents of students with autism or ADHD play an important role in the learning outcome for children of all cognitive types.

Color Guard? Visual stimulus enhances schooling for most children. Viewing helps them interpret and organize their surroundings. Visual thinkers arrive at understandings with pictures and step-by-step lessons.

Team Player? Peer modeling is when a well-behaved child talks, plays and helps to put a child on the spectrum or with learning resistance issues on a faster track to engaging with their work and maintaining positive behaviors.

Teacher Prompts? Visual, spoken or written prompts stimulate responses from learners. These include flashcards, related objects, key words, questions and repeating errors to keep lessons interactive.

Flexible Ways?

Act and See? Parental involvement builds trust and awareness with educators. Collaborative communications strengthen associations and reduce unpleasant experiences. COVID-19 brought teaching into homes.

Virtual Enhancements? A combination of in-class and on-line learning allows students to repeat, review and rework problem areas. Questions asked and answered encourages students to advance at their own learning pace.

Curves Ahead? COVID-19 introduced rigorous changes. The system paused must-pass exams. Time will tell if students learn better with a hybrid system of online classes held in homes, coupled with days of in-class learning.

Scheduling Work-Around? Flexible-learning system may bring end to bad-weather days, sick days and make-up days extending studies into planned breaks and vacation times. Study times may adjust to improve sleep cycles.

Age of Discontent

Uniform Look? Methodical programs may hurt learning by children of diverse cognition. Government Barriers stifle education flexibility and morale. Mass centralization may not groom individual talents.

Long View? Few parents are happy with the high-stakes stress from centralized student testing. To boost language, math, listening or analytic skills, individualized study approaches are widely preferred for their children.

Roadblocks? Parents express frustration with problematic Common Core state-set education goals. Experimental math formulas are confusing to comprehend. The lack of reading variety is a failed exercise in boredom.

Spillover? Discontent transcends classrooms. The Harvard Political Review reports parents of stressed and disheartened children raised The Case Against Standardized Testing. It extinguishes creativity and individualism.

End Standard Lessons and Testing

Beach Day? Flaws and mishaps disrupt testing. Content may be poorly worded or developmentally inappropriate in nature. Test takers contend with malfunctioning answer sheets and exam booklets with missing pages.

Directors: Cut! Test errors frustrate learning. Students operating step-by-step may be especially challenged. It's hard to associate proper actions with misleading words and instructions. The government-run system is broken.

Round Trip? Standardization is crippling schools and toppling teachers. Common Core test scores determine salaries and close under-performing schools. Raising lower-functioning students may not offer universal benefit.

Sheer Luck? Test results may deceive. NWEA data from 49 foreign countries, 50 states and 3400 districts show Student Engagement Affects Test Performance. Tests may reflect engagement rather than learning levels.

Improve Learning for All Cognitive Types

Holding Forth? Stealth and novelty draw students into classwork. They become restless and disengage from flat, rigid chalkboard drills. Critical letter-to-sound associations for spelling deserve greater attention.

Branding? Education cannot be homogenized. Individuals have different cognitive types, learning styles, socio-economic levels and areas of interest. They are not products on shelves in need of uniform display appearance.

Shore Leave? In many countries, secondary school consists of two levels. School days and years can be year around and classes quite challenging. Starting high school at grade 7 or 8 versus grade 9 may boost performance.

Play to Learn? In September 2018, AAP published The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children, stressing “The importance of playful learning for children cannot be over-emphasized.”

Connectivity Keys

Declaration of Independence? Current rebellions for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” may cement learning at home. Girls, the poor and those with special needs or creative strengths are uprising.

Natural Selection? Greater parental involvement may lend improvement. Government debt and health risks presented by COVID-19 may foster collaborative schooling. Society will benefit if learning resumes.

Day-Care Operations? Students want to follow their passions. Supervision of independent online and in-class learning by trusted, licensed individuals, daily food provisions, safety oversight and basic discipline rules are trending.

Elimination? Cursive writing, music and art are gone. Math may be next. Finland is getting rid of all school subjects. It ranks among the best education systems in the world. The school day is short; graduation rates are high.

Current Affairs? The system must focus on learning and thinking rather than on graduation rates. Nobody wins in the central-learning meltdown. It is hard to support the lackluster classroom results from this confederation.