Learning Styles and Schema | Ep 6

Connect with S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Podcast - Episode 6, Launch Date: May 26, 2021

With Dr. Richard Smith and Dr. Lynette Scotese-Wojtila Subject: Learning Styles and Schema

Listen on major podcast platforms, and here:

Our blog posts serve as brief overviews of our podcast episodes.

Welcome everyone to the sixth episode of CONNECT with SUCCESS, a podcast built around the The SUCCESS Approach (SM), and the person who coined it Dr. Lynette Scotese-Wojtila.

In the fifth episode we introduced a synthesis of episodes one through four, where we learned about a few of the theories of The SUCCESS Approach (SM). So today we'll pick up right where we left off with yet another key concept that will help parents and professionals to understand both autism, and the The SUCCESS Approach (SM). Today's topic will bring us down to the basics as we learn about how children learn. So, Dr. Lynette, what term are we going to learn about today?

The Term for Episode 6 is Schema

What is schema?

Dr. Lynette Scotese-Wojtila

Schema comes from cognitive development. And it's basically a mental representation, or mental framework, for remembering and understanding information about objects or events. Schema is sort of like a template, it's sort of like a mental representation for a set of events.

We have schemas for many things. If I say, grocery shopping, the listener will have an idea of what's involved with that. They have a schema for how they get their cart, they go up and down the aisles, they select the items they want, they walk through the checkout to purchase their items, put them in their car, go home and basically put them away and then use them. So a very complex example of schema, but it is a mental representation of all that.

Dr. Richard Smith

So this is another way of processing. This is association, almost.

Dr. Scotese-Wojtila

Yes, and it's different. I'm glad you said the word processing because it's different than sensory integration processing, and here's why.

As you'll remember and sensory processing content we learned that processing happens subcortically, sort of at that brainstem level, where things are very automatic. We're not thinking at all, but in this kind of process and schema development, which comes from the theory of what we call Information Processing, it is completely cerebral, up in the cortex. It's a cognitive function, and that's why that part of the brain is involved.

Every podcast episode concludes with either a challenge or key takeaways for our listeners.

Key Takeaways from Episode 6: Well I think first and foremost, we all want to respect the fact that people learn differently. They have different ways of coming to the same kind of knowledge, and that's okay. We should also remember that schemas are natural and normal how they form through experiences, and that both good and bad experiences can result in schema development, so be careful about what we're introducing the kids to. It is just as easy to learn the wrong thing, as it is to learn the right thing, especially for kids with autism.

Another important thing for children on the spectrum is to help them know what is salient about a topic or an event. If they can't make sense of something as it is, help them know what is salient about it, like the birthday party idea. Make sure they go away knowing that a birthday party is really about a couple things: a kid is getting a year older, a birthday cake, and probably a song – that’s about what birthday parties are all about. So they come away with the right information. Help your child to take perspective, by letting them know that you have ideas too and it's okay if your ideas are different from theirs.

We hope that you learned something today to help you on your journey with autism. We'll share more on our next Connect with Success Podcast. Until then, expect success!

Listen to Episode 6 of Connect with S.U.C.C.E.S.S. on major podcast platforms, and here:

For more information about The Success Approach, please go to our website at

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