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The Writing Process (from 55 Essential Skills for Students on the Autism Spectrum)
Even a simple writing assignment may require most or all of the following skills:
- Filtering through all the available ideas and selecting a suitable topic.
- Breaking down the topic, story, or thesis into relevant main ideas.
- Finding appropriate facts or details to support the main ideas.
- Organizing the information into a coherent format.
- Finding suitable vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure.
- Summarizing the main ideas or providing relevant conclusions.
The following Easy Essay Strategy takes each of these skills and organizes them into an easy 4-step process.
What to Write?
Some ASD students may struggle with deciding what to write about.
Some Visual thinkers may struggle with the order and sequence of writing. Others may struggle with organizing their thoughts.
To others, the task as described by the teacher or assignment is simply too open-ended and the student simply does not know where to begin.
For these students we recommend imagining a picture of the assignment or what they might like to write about.
For convenience, we can even imagine our picture as a sketch on a whiteboard, or a painting or even a short movie.
Now, the first thing we want to look at is the amount of information in our picture.
If the amount of information is more than we can fit into our essay, then we need to ‘zoom in’ or what we like to call, ‘chunk down’.
Conversely, if our subject image does not have enough detail or information about which to write, we need to ‘zoom out’ or ‘chuck up’.
What do we mean by ‘chunk up’ and chunk down’ and how do we do it?
Actually, it’s pretty easy. We chunk up by asking ourselves the question, “This picture/image a part of, example of, or type of what [bigger picture/image]?”
To put it another way, imagine the internal picture you created and imagine zooming out and seeing what is around your picture.
This is getting more abstract or chunking up.
And to chunk down, we ask ourselves, “What is a smaller picture/image that is a part of, example of, or type of your picture/image?”
By chunking up and down, we can more easily decide what we want to write about and the appropriate level of detail for our essay or assignment.
The following template is an easy-to-use outline for creating a basic 5-5 Essay.
Simply fill in each box with a simple word or phrase to create an organized outline for your essay.
Once the student has his outline (and research if applicable), it’s time to begin turning those keywords and phrases into sentences.
Again, the point is not to create Shakespeare. Keep the sentences simple and to the point.
Utilizing the outline format whenever you sit down to write will save you hours of time while giving you a more consistent, organized result.
Additional strategies for reading and writing can be found in both "Cracking the Dyslexia Code" and "55 Essential Skills for Students on the Autism Spectrum".
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