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Better Together: Building Relationships with People who have Visual Impairment and Autism Spectrum Disorder (or Atypical Social Development)

by Linda Hagood-© TSBVI 2008 Print set - Order # 59446 BTP, also available on disk

Table of Contents for this book.

The population of children with visual impairment has grown increasingly diverse in recent years. A growing number of students with visual impairment are being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. The relationship between autism and visual impairment is complex. Therefore, the issues related to identification of autism in children with visual impairment remain controversial. As the theoretical controversies continue, parents and teachers are faced with a growing number of visually impaired students who have trouble building social connections, which typical sighted children establish during the first years of life. The goal of this manual is to provide practical suggestions for teachers and parents who want to build important foundational relationships and teach social skills to children with visual impairments and autism or other types of atypical social development. Better Together provides a systematic scope and sequence of relationship-based goals and objectives, as well as examples of activities and strategies for teaching the objectives. Sample thematic units are presented that can be used by teachers to organize relationship-based instruction.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction

  • Autism and Asperger's Syndrome
    • Diagnostic Criteria for Autistic Disorder
    • Diagnostic Criteria for Asperger's Disorder
    • Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified
  • What's In A Name? Questioning the Autism Diagnosis of Children with Visual Impairment
  • Overview of Approaches for Teaching Children with Autism
    • Continuum of Current Treatment Approaches
    • Categorical Comparison of Current Educational Approaches
  • Resources for Teaching the Student with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Visual Impairment
  • Why a Relationship-Based Approach for Visually Impaired Children with Autism?
  • Goals of this Guide

Chapter 2 Curriculum Scope and Sequence

  • Domains Used in Better Together Curriculum
  • Descriptions of Levels in Social Skills Curriculum
    • Level 1 Developmental Level 0-6 months
    • Level 2 Developmental Level 6-18 months
    • Level 3 Developmental Level 18-36 months
    • Level 4 Developmental Level 36-60 months
    • Level 5 Developmental Level 5 years-7 years

Chapter 3 Relationship-based Evaluation

  • Evaluation of Student Skills
    • Social Interaction
    • Communication
    • Social Cognition
    • Emotional Development

Chapter 4 Strategies for Building Relationships

  • Stage 1 Getting Ready
    • Medical and Educational Histories
    • Interview Parents and Previous Teachers
    • Understand the Implications of Specific Visual Problems for Social Learning
  • Stage 2 Getting Started
    • Establishing a Foundation
  • Stage 3 Staying Connected
    • Cooperation
  • Stage 4 Building Equity
    • Collaboration
    • Guiding Principals for Maintaining Mature Relationships

Chapter 5 Adapting Existing Curricula

  • Relationship-based Approaches for Students with Autism
    • Materials

Chapter 6 Samples Instructional Units

  • Unit 1 Connections
    • Social Games
    • Stories
    • Science
    • Art
    • Music
    • Creative Movement/Dramatic Play
  • Unit 2 Understanding Others' Perspectives
    • Social Games
    • Stories
    • Language Arts
    • Science
    • Social Studies/History/Current Events
  • Unit 3 Transitions/Changes
    • Social Games
    • Stories
    • Language Arts
    • Science
    • Social Studies
  • Unit 4 Emotions/Feelings
    • Social Games
    • Stories
    • Science

Chapter 7 Activities to Encourage Creativity and Collaboration

  • Yoga
    • Emotional Regulation
    • Connection to Others
    • Creative/Symbolic Thinking
  • Collaborative Writing
    • Parallels Between Social Play Levels and Writing Abilities
    • Parallels Between Cognitive Play Levels and Writing Abilities
  • Strategies to Develop a Play-based Writing Program

Chapter 8 FAQs on Common Problems

  • Problem Area: Echoed Speech
  • Problem Area: Tolerating Change
  • Problem Area: Isolation
  • Problem Area: Mannerisms and Self-Stimulation


  • Making a Happy Ending


  1. Evaluation/Assessment Forms
    • Evaluation of Adult Teaching Strategies
    • Evaluation of the Adult-Child Relationship
    • Evaluation of Student Skills
  2. Student Stories
  3. References