Montessori education for autism

Fostering Independence and Choice-Making Ability

Fostering Independence and Choice-Making Ability

The Montessori curriculum fosters independence and choice-making in children with disabilities. Research has shown that children with the severe disabilities make few meaningful choices in their daily lives. In fact, the relationship between disability level and choice making is an inverse one: the more severe a child’s disability, the fewer opportunities he or she typically has to make meaningful choices.¹

In a Montessori classroom, all children, with or without disabilities, may choose any material for which they have had a lesson given by the teacher.

In my experience, caution should be exercised to not overwhelm an autistic child with choices, perhaps by initially structuring their choice scenarios to include only two or three alternatives. Also, it is important to ensure that repetitive choices represent real learning rather than perseveration.


1. Guess, David, Benson, H.A., & Siegel-Causey, E. (1985). “Concepts and issues related to choice making and autonomy among persons with severe disabilities”.  Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps, 10, (2), 79-86.)