Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is characterized by different degrees of impairment and deviance in the development of social communication, cognition and emotions, and presence of restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviours and interests as well as sensory processing problems.


General Behavioural Patterns of Students with ASD


1. Social Interaction and Communication:

- Difficulties in initiating or responding to social interactions and maintaining conversations
- Struggles in developing, maintaining, and understanding relationships
- Difficulties in using and understanding non-verbal communication
- Difficulties in presenting in front of the public or large crowds
- Interrupting conversations and/or raising questions in an inappropriate time


2.  Cognition and Emotions:

- Difficulties in regulating emotions
- May have rigid thinking pattern


3. Repetitive Patterns of Behaviours and Interests:

- Insistence on sameness and routines
- Difficulties with transitions and distress at changes
- Difficulties with multi-tasking (e.g. organizing and managing multiple aspects of university life)
- Differing sensory sensitivity that may lead to anxieties/distractions/distress (e.g. hyper- or hyposensitive to specific sound/noise, smell, physical contact, lighting, etc.)


Useful Tips for Supporting Students with ASD


• Communication:

1. Communicate in clear and concise words; avoid using metaphors
2. Break down complex requests/instructions in steps and stages
3. Be prepared to explain rules in every scenario and situation
4. Be patient


• Inclusive Teaching:


1. Allow short breaks in classes
2. Elaborate complex concepts with concrete examples
3. Present teaching materials in visuals (e.g. charts, videos)
4. Provide lecture materials prior to class to facilitate students’ preparation for class
5. Permit audio/video recordings of lectures to facilitate students’ revision/learning after class
6. Set clear expectations (e.g. advise students to jot down questions which will be addressed at the end of the class)
7. Assist the student in group formation for group work/projects if necessary
8. Announce any changes to class/test/exam dates or assignment deadlines as early as practicable
9. Discuss special learning and/or exam arrangements privately with students concerned
10. Acknowledge and show respect for diversity in learning needs


• Assignment & Assessment:


1. Provide clear guidelines/instructions for individual and group assignments
2. Break down assignments into smaller tasks that may help manage workloads
3. Consider alternative assessment modes
4. Consider extensions in assignment deadlines
5. Consider extra time and supervised breaks in quizzes/tests/exams if necessary
6. Arrange a separate venue for quizzes/tests/exams to minimize distractions and stress
7. Divide the quiz/test/exam into different sections




1. Information on ASD (National Institute of Mental Health, United States)
2. Inclusive Teaching for Students with ASD (Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training, Australia)