SLANT Strategy Supports Impulse Control
Many students are challenged when faced with participating in group lessons, especially when new information is introduced. For students on the autism spectrum, pressure from this type of activity may reduce impulse control or their ability to stop behavior that interferes with learning. Lack of impulse control is typically related to dysregulation and can cause a range of behaviors that interfere with learning for both the student with autism and his classmates.
What is the SLANT Strategy?
SLANT is a proactive strategy that helps students to prepare, participate, and maintain attention. The SLANT Strategy consists of five behaviors that are easy to use and will help students stay self-regulated and ready to learn. The five behaviors are described below.
1. Sit up
Students should be allowed to sit in a way that helps them maintain attention and get the most oxygen to their brains. Having feet on the floor and hands on the desk will often help students feel more ready to pay attention and learn the information. Using adaptive seats (e.g., ball-chair or other special seat) along with fidgets (e.g., spinners, stress balls, putty) to keep hands busy are great accommodations to help students sit and pay attention.
2. Lean forward
Leaning forward helps students engage their listening skills and shows the teacher they are paying attention and ready to learn. This position also supports the student using their hands for writing, typing, or other hands-on activity.
3. Ask and answer questions
Students increase their understanding when they ask and answer questions. This also tells the teacher they are interested and engaged in the lesson activity. Asking and answering questions activates students’ critical thinking skills. Each time students ask and answer questions, teachers are able to assess their learning and plan what to teach next.
4. Nod your head
Students who nod their heads during the lesson are using non-verbal communication as a way to let the teacher know they are paying attention. Nodding is an important way for student to signal the teacher that they understand the lesson so she can move on to the next topic. Nodding is also a valuable active listening skill for students to learn and use during real-world conversations.
5. Track the speaker
Tracking the teacher is a visual cue that students can use to show they are paying attention to the lesson. This helps them stay on track and avoid daydreaming or getting distracted. By tracking the person who is talking, students find it is easier to hear what is being said and then to process the information. Students need to be deliberate about this skill rather than looking at their phones or devices and forgetting to look at other people. Tracking is also a nice way to show respect to the person who is speaking.
Why is SLANT important?
The SLANT set of behaviors are a proactive approach to self-management. Students can use the SLANT Strategy to reduce anxiety and increase self-regulation by focusing on each of the five behaviors before and during a lesson or activity. Focusing on these easy-to-do behaviors is calming and is also a good way to practice mindfulness. Students who learn and practice these five behaviors will gain skills in several areas including:
- Awareness of body language.
- Awareness of posture.
- Engagement in the lesson activity.
- Attention to the speaker and the information.
- Positive teacher response.
How is SLANT used?
An additional benefit is that SLANT behaviors often increase the teacher’s approval and positive reinforcement. Students can plan to use the SLANT Strategy during learning activities as shown in the list below:
- At the start of a lesson.
- During a discussion.
- When the teacher is giving information.
- During times when the student is feeling or acting dysregulated.
Final Thoughts . . .
SLANT is a strategy students can use at any time and can keep a visual reminder of the SLANT graphic on their device or printed as a handout in their folder. This strategy is one of the easiest and most effective ways for students to be successful learners by staying self-regulated and actively participating in lessons and activities.