The Center for AAC and Autism

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Readiness to Learn

In order to learn, an individual must be in an arousal state compatible for attending and learning. For individuals with developmental disabilities, particularly those with autism spectrum disorders, achieving and maintaining this state of “readiness to learn” can be challenging.

Sensory techniques to help that individual maintain an optimal level of arousal need to be incorporated into treatment sessions. Not only do sensory motor activities help to modulate an individual’s level of arousal, but they tend to be inherently motivating and enjoyable for the child. To keep the individual’s interest, it is necessary to follow their lead in determining the vocabulary to be introduced to match their desire to communicate. Natural, intrinsically motivating activities tend to encourage interactive communication and engagement, while maintaining the individual’s interest more so than activities that require a particular response or compliance.