Autism, STEM, and UDL: What is Universal Design for Learning?

What is Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and how can it help you support all learners, including autistic and other students who might need accommodations? We’re glad you asked.

Sam Johnston is Director of Postsecondary & Workforce Development at the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) and an expert on Universal Design for Learning. UDL frameworks and pedagogy can help instructors incorporate teaching strategies that best serve autistic and other neurodivergent students. In this series of interviews, Johnston talks with STS about what UDL is, how to implement it, why it’s a good pedagogical fit for teachers of autistic students, and where to learn more about UDL. The good news is that many educators who aren’t familiar with UDL will realize upon reflection that they are already including some components of UDL principles into their pedagogy. Once you have more understanding of the framework and why it’s effective, it can be exciting to apply UDL concepts to your lesson plans, syllabi, and teaching materials. 

Reading our Autism 101 page for educators can further support your understanding of autistic students and how UDL can be a good fit for student variability.

We also have additional UDL resources here:

And let us know in the comments if you have questions about UDL.

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Andrea Kolodziej is a Production Coordinator at Award Productions. She manages production shoots and multiple video projects for clients across the country. Andrea has tackled all angles of the production field including video editing, script writing, social media, camera work, web design, and more. She started her production career working as an intern at NBC daytime television and developed her core skills working as an Associate Producer at Pellet Media. She was also a former core member of the Stairway to STEM team and was highly involved in the development of STS. Before her production career began, Andrea spent many years caring for her special needs sister and worked as a therapist and 1-1 paraprofessional for autistic students.

Andrea is passionate about helping others and inspiring through creativity. In her spare time, she is an avid traveler and a freelance photographer.

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