Teaching Components:

Teaching components include Work Systems and Visual Structure.

"Matching Number"

Left to right sequence - finished box/basket/folder to the far right. This is the most concrete level of "work systems" and involves placing items to be completed to the left of the person's workspace (e.g., a shelf, folder, basket/tub, etc.). The student is taught to take the items from the left, complete them at his work space in front of him, and then place the completed work to the right in an "all done" box, folder, basket, etc.

Matching - color, shape, alphabet, number. This would be a higher level skill in that the person must complete his "work jobs" in a sequential order by matching color, shape, alphabet letter or number coding system.

Example. The student has a sequence strip of individual numbers 1-10 velcroed on their desk/work space. He also has multiple "work jobs" located on his left. To complete tasks in this work system (matching), he takes the number "1" off his number strip and matches it to the number "1" located on one of the work jobs. This is the job/task/activity he must complete first. He continues matching numbers to tasks in order to complete those tasks (work jobs) in a specified sequential order.

Written system. This is the highest level of the work system. It would involve a written list of "work jobs" to be completed in sequential order.

The materials of the task define the task (e.g., putting rings on a stick with the rings located in a container on the left, and the stick standing upright on the right - again following the left to right sequence).

A cut-out or outline jig (e.g., an outline of a plate and silverware to direct the person where to place the silverware on a placemat).

A picture jig (e.g., a picture of various toys or clothing items in specific locations for the child to match the real object, in order to learn to put away his belongings).

Written instruction (e.g., written steps to complete a task or sequenced activity such as the morning routine or spelling work.).

Product sample or model (e.g., a completed art project).

"Visual Organization"

Use containers to organize materials (e.g., placing the various materials of an activity into separate containers, or arranging alphabet letters to be matched by standing them upright in a foam tray, rather than having them bunched together in a single container).

Limit the area (e.g., use masking tape to enclose specific areas for a student to vacuum).

"Color Coding"

Color coding (e.g., assign each student a specific color and consistently use this color to teach the child to identify his environmental belongings more readily, including work areas, cubby space/locker, small group chair, snack/lunch seat, communication books, etc.

Labeling (e.g., for sorting tasks, highlighting openings on containers to make them more visually obvious).


The structured teaching approach allows the student with autism to learn a process of focusing upon and following visual cues in various situations and environments, in order to increase his overall independent functioning. It is important to note that various instructional interventions, such as sensory integration, Picture Exchange Communication System-PECS, Greenspan's Floortime, discrete trial, etc., can easily be incorporated into the structured teaching approach.