I was at a planning meeting this week with a team that I collaborate with as a private speech pathologist. My client is on the autism spectrum and I had just completed a diagnostic evaluation. I shared my results of language testing and talked about what I learned from observing his behaviors during the tasks. One one test, the first portion gave a field of four drawings to chose the answer from. During the second half there were no visual cues to help him with his answer. He got every item wrong after the visual cues were not given.

On the concepts section of the test, he failed several items that I know he knew in other contexts. It was hard for him to pick out the correct line drawing from a field of four that represented simple concepts.

After sharing these observations, the team started to develop goals for his upcoming year based on the testing. One of the members of the team said, “Well, we don’t want to teach to a test but I think we should teach him test taking skills–how to scan several pictures for an answer, how to listen to a paragraph and stay focused to answer a question, and how to be more familiar with two dimensional drawings for his answers.

I thought that was a great point. Many children with special needs will be tested at least yearly to determine progress and goals. How helpful for them to learn strategies like, “Look at all the pictures and then pick the one that answers the question.”