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Choosing the Best Autism Curriculum to Fit Your Child’s Needs

May 20, 2024

I remember sitting on the floor looking at all the homeschool supplies for the new year. My boys were excited about their handwriting workbooks, but I dreaded one subject: math.

One of my boys struggles with math, so I started wondering how I could choose the right autism curriculum for him. After making great progress for a year, we hit the ADHD wall hard. The next few years were filled with struggles and frustration, leading me to put math on hold to focus on building his concentration.

I’ve learned that sometimes it’s more important to set aside books and figure out how to help your child learn in the best way for them.

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Homeschooling a Child With Autism

Choosing the right autism curriculum

We have been through six different math curriculums over the past five years. We have finally found one that works, but it’s been a tough journey before we found the best math curriculum for autism that fits my boy’s needs.

When looking for a curriculum, I had to consider a few things. If you have a child on the spectrum, you probably have a list of things to pay attention to in these situations, especially if you’re looking for the best homeschool curriculum for autism.

I need something that isn’t very teacher-intensive. I strive for my boys to become independent learners as soon as they can.

Something that requires hours of my time and attention isn’t something that will work for my family. With the curriculum we are using now, my oldest can actually do most of the work on his own, and I just check answers and help him out when he gets stuck.

My son does best when there is not much busy work involved in his lessons. He gets very frustrated when he feels like his time is being wasted. I’ve also noticed that he struggles to concentrate when he has to do a lot of problems all at once.

Because I have more than one child, I also look for a curriculum that I can use more than once. It is rare that I buy something that won’t work for multiple children.

Adapting curriculum to fit your child

One thing that has been helpful across the board for my son has been adapting the curriculum whenever possible. Almost anything can be tweaked or slightly changed to work best for my boys. As I found, you can create your own curriculum for students with autism!

I try to get my boys moving during the day as much as possible. A little outdoor time before we get started is always a plus.

A young boy playing with is mom outside https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/best-curriculum-for-your-child-with-autism/

Incorporating movement into the lessons is also helpful. Sometimes, we toss a ball as we do spelling words, shoot Nerf guns at the answers to math questions, and even just sit on an exercise ball.

I also require very little writing from my boys. My son has weak fine motor muscles and gets really tired if he has a lot of writing to do.

Sometimes, I will let him dictate the answers to me, and I write them down. He still does the work but doesn’t have to stress over the handwriting.

Redefining success for your child with autism

In school, you will find children functioning at, below, and above grade level. Homeschooling is no different.

My boys are all over the map skill-wise. They are at or above where their peers are for certain subjects, and they each have their struggles.

I tried the whole grade-level thing for a while and found that it had some really negative consequences for my boys. They would feel less smart than other kids because they struggled with something. 

I prefer to focus on forward progress instead of completion of grade levels or perfection. My boys are still expected to work hard and do their best work. But they are allowed to work at their own pace.

With my son’s math struggles, I knew that he would get it eventually. Because we homeschool, he has been able to work as slowly as he needs in math and continue forward in his other subjects.

There was no reason for me to hold him back in reading or spelling or history simply because he hadn’t memorized all his math facts yet.

Focus on progress, not perfection

At the end of each quarter and the end of the year I sit down with my boys and look at the progress that they made.

When it came to math, instead of focusing on all the things that my son hadn’t mastered yet, I would point to him all the things that he could do now that he couldn’t do at the beginning of the year. I watched this past year as my son dropped the burden he’d been carrying over math.

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When I sat down with him to go over the math plans for this year, he was excited to get to work. He smiled and said, “I’m just going to keep working hard, Mommy. I’ll get it.” This is what it is all about: progress, not perfection.

This article was featured in Issue 50 – The Autism Homeschooling Revolution


Q: What is the curriculum for students with autism?

A: The curriculum for students with autism is a tailored program designed to meet their unique learning needs, often including visual supports, structured routines, and individualized instruction. It focuses on developing social, communication, and academic skills in a way that accommodates their specific strengths and challenges.

Q: How do I make my classroom autism friendly?

A: To make your classroom autism-friendly, create a calm and organized space with clear routines and visual aids. Also, provide sensory tools and allow for flexible seating options to accommodate different sensory needs.

Q: What is the best education system for autistic children?

A: The best education system for autistic children is one that is flexible and tailored to their individual needs, often including specialized programs and support services. This can involve personalized learning plans, therapies, and accommodations to help them succeed.

Q: How do autistic students learn best?

A: Autistic students learn best with structured routines, clear instructions, and visual supports. It’s also important to tailor teaching methods to their individual strengths and interests and to keep the learning environment calm and supportive.


Jennifer C. Bullen, Matthew C. Zajic, Nancy McIntyre, Emily Solari, Peter Mundy, Patterns of math and reading achievement in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder, Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, Volume 92, 2022, 101933, ISSN 1750-9467, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rasd.2022.101933 

Lambert, R., Sugita, T., Yeh, C., Hunt, J. H., & Brophy, S. (2020). Documenting increased participation of a student with autism in the standards for mathematical practice. Journal of Educational Psychology, 112(3), 494–513. https://doi.org/10.1037/edu0000425 

Faisal, F., & Elihami, E. (2019). LEARNING NEEDS OF THE STUDENTS THROUGH HOMESCHOOLING. JURNAL EDUKASI NONFORMAL, 1(1), 154-159. Retrieved from https://ummaspul.e-journal.id/JENFOL/article/view/260 

Valiente, C., Spinrad, T. L., Ray, B. D., Eisenberg, N., & Ruof, A. (2022). Homeschooling: What do we know and what do we need to learn? Child Development Perspectives, 16, 48–53. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdep.12441 

Leytham, P. A., Nguyen, N. (Neal), & Rago, D. (2021). Curriculum Programming in the General Education Setting for Students With Autism Spectrum Disorder. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 53(6), 404-413. https://doi.org/10.1177/0040059920968885

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