There is no real substitute for learning through real-world experience. Ideally, all students — most especially students with autism — should have many, many structured, safe, real-world learning activities. Learning traffic safety is an excellent example of why this is. What possible substitute can there be?
Researchers have explored using virtual reality to teach students with autism to generalize traffic safety skills. I look forward to the time when this technology is more widely available!
Until then, to try to make up for our computer lab’s impediments to real-world, or near-real-world learning, the culminating activity for our recent traffic safety unit incorporated videos of streets and intersections in New York City. Now, these aren’t great videos — I shot them — but they present the student with different situations: when and when not to cross the street; the steps to follow when crossing the street; signs to look for when crossing the street; etc. The videos sum up all that we had covered in the preceding month.