Montessori education for autism

Emphasis on Integrated Studies and Independent Exploration

Emphasis on Integrated Studies and Independent Exploration

Montessori curriculum promotes learning in a larger context, on multiple levels, and from different perspectives, while respecting a child’s preferences regarding timing and learning style.  In this way, children retain and subsequently apply the acquired knowledge more effectively than in a conventional educational system, where learning is more standardized, linear and externally imposed.  With scattered skills and difficulty in applying and generalizing them, ASD children can benefit profoundly from the emphasis in Montessori schools on in-depth learning at the expense of covering a larger quota of topics superficially.

 At its core, Montessori philosophy strives to foster initiative, curiosity, and independent research skills.

From an early age, children are encouraged to pursue their academic interests and passions, while learning methods and tools of independent research.  Students learn how to analyze, systematize, and present their findings on almost any imaginable subject.  Even children with lower-functioning autism have intense, albeit sometimes narrow, interests.  In a conventional public school setting, an autistic child would be compelled to subordinate such interests to a standardized curriculum, whereas in a Montessori setting this child would be encouraged to actively explore such interests, resulting in better engagement by the child on the main topic and additional learning in related topics as an unanticipated bonus.   For example, some ASD children perseverate on trains.  If encouraged to research the subject of trains, they could learn about train components (vocabulary, materials), train function (mechanics), train speeds (math), development of trains (history), and railroad routes (geography, geology), just to name a few related topics.


  1. I found your website on the internet while doing research on Montessori education for autism. My son now 4 and a half is autistic (PDD on the spectrum) and I put him into the Montessori pre-school in June this year – ever since I have seen remarkable progress.
    We live in Namibia, Africa and have a couple of children (not all mine) diagnosed with autism and I can only say that the Montessori concept of education really works (wonders!).

  2. My background is in medicine, child development and psychology. I worked at the Montessori school for 6 years. We had several students with ASD and I observed their progress over the years. Engaged and proactive parent is a huge asset for child with ASD.
    I am a big proponent of Montessori approach. Many people misinterpret the essence of Montessori ideas. Maria Montessori was ahead of her time. She was the first female Medical Doctor in Italy. In addition, she had an education in anthropology, psychology and worked with prominent neurologists of that era. Montessori approach is based on the development of child’s brain and the rest of nervous system. This development occurs in stages and parents and teachers have to “serve” to the child (who is “starving” for knowledge) the right information at the right time. If parents and teachers are patient enough to follow these stages from 0-6years old, chances are that children with their natural curiosity and creativity will get a good start in life. The whole idea of the education is to prepare child for life-to be productive, creative and content member of the society. Happy and educated children-Happy and educated Parents-Happy, educated and peaceful communities! I recommend a good book, called: “Montessori: the Science behind the Genius” written by a developmental psychologist Angelina Lillard, PH.D. It looks like finally their is an agreement with all branches of science: learning about human brain is important in order to have a healthy nation. President Obama supports brain research and promotes brain health.

  3. My parents were co-founders of a Montessori pre-school in the early 1960’s. My eldest brother has intellectual disabilities and in looking for help for Billy, my parents discovered the work of Maria Montessori. Eventually they started The Child’s Workshop in Connecticut where my brother, my other siblings and I started our educations.  I have very happy memories of that school, and for Billy it was an incredible foundation that put him on the right path to the successful, productive and happy life that he has today.

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