With the number of autistic people in the world rapidly increasing, a need for development and accommodations has also increased. In this article you will find resources to help create an ASD-friendly environment at home, school, work and social settings.
The “20 classroom modifications for students with autism” is an educator’s guide that provides 20 classroom modifications that are ASD-friendly.
The majority of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) need special educational support. Supporting both neurotypical and neurodivergent kids is a difficult and rewarding task for teachers and other educators.
Even if a kid has more severe requirements on the spectrum, he or she will almost certainly be put in a regular classroom for at least part of the day. According to surveys, more than half of students with autism aged 6 to 21 spend at least 40% of their day in a classroom alongside neurotypical children (from kindergarten to bachelor education). Approximately two-thirds of this group spends more than 80% of their school day in a classroom with mostly neurotypical peers.
Children with autism often spend part of their day in a classroom for children with special needs, in special education, or in a classroom with at least one special education teacher. This period, though, is unlikely to take over their school day. Most instructors have a mixed-ability classroom, with one or a few neurodivergent pupils and the majority of neurotypical students.
In the best of circumstances, maintaining a family’s health is difficult. During a worldwide epidemic, the task becomes considerably more difficult.
We’ve described several key strategies for assisting neurodivergent pupils, particularly those on the autistic spectrum.
In a neurotypical classroom, children with autism must be understood.
Children with autism are often placed in classes alongside pupils who are not autistic. If the instructor does not provide enough assistance, this might result in friction, tension, and misunderstandings. Educators may also be instructing a youngster who has not yet been diagnosed with autism.
Here are several indicators that a student in your class may be on the autistic spectrum:
They struggle to engage with other youngsters, often misinterpret social signs or getting agitated.
They have trouble relating to other students and perceiving things through the eyes of neurotypical students.
They often play alone.
They don’t make a lot of eye contact or gaze into other people’s eyes with trepidation.
They could make strange or repeated gestures.
They may have difficulty with certain developmental milestones, such as vocal communication, but thrive in others, such as reading comprehension.
In class, they have difficulty paying attention.
They may engage in repetitious or strange behavior with toys or stuff on their desk.
They may have trouble with bodily coordination, seem clumsy or awkward, and interact and play differently than neurotypical kids.
If you have at least one autistic student, you should have at least one teacher’s assistant on hand to assist you in supporting that kid’s learning. Even if your other students are neurotypical, you may seek extra training or certification to effectively help these individuals.
It’s critical to have the resources you need in your classroom to assist all of your children learn in a variety of ways. For autistic children, this typically entails extra attention, alternate explanations or learning aids, and sensory-safe locations where they may calm down if necessary.
Youngsters on the autistic spectrum and other neurodivergent children need these extra assistance, since children with special needs are suspended at double the rate of their neurotypical classmates. This is because children with unique needs, such as ASD, often display behavioral disorders as a result of their inability to comprehend social interactions and settings.
Misunderstandings and disturbances may arise fast when a student cannot comprehend the gestures, facial expressions, or body language of another student. Suspending pupils or requiring them to leave for the day implies the child will lose out on learning opportunities, perhaps reversing their educational progress. Teacher training and other classroom assistance may help to alleviate these issues.
Basic Strategies for Supporting Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the Classroom
In the classroom, all children need structure and assistance, but children on the autism spectrum benefit most from routines, clear timetables, and repetition.
Here are some basic classroom management suggestions that may benefit both children with autism and their neurotypical peers:
Make a daily schedule for your class that includes both instruction and recreation.
When these routines are altered, talk about it. Give pupils ample notice if you’re switching from a reading to a math session.
Visualize timetables, timelines, and other learning resources using visual guides. Visual learners make up a large percentage of youngsters, and children with autism are often among them.
Make use of simple language. Humor, irony, metaphors, and exaggeration should all be avoided.
Make it plain to all pupils which behaviors are and are not acceptable. If there is a misunderstanding, don’t count on them to pick up on subtle social indications.
Give kids some alternatives rather of leaving the question open-ended when you ask them a question, particularly if they have autism. Instead of asking, “What do you want to do now?” ask, “Would you prefer read a book or play on the computer?”
Changes in behavior in any children may indicate exhaustion, tension, or worry, but this is particularly true for children with autism. Be mindful of any changes in behavior and provide choices for relaxing and calming down, such as a relaxation place in the classroom.
If there is a social issue, lead your class in mindfulness or breathing techniques to help them calm.
If there are any schedule adjustments, such as early dismissal or a fire safety drill, let everyone know as soon as possible. As the changes approach, remind students about them often.
Keep your directions short and to-the-point. Individual praise may help to motivate youngsters. Use phrases like “Way to go!” or “You’re doing a fantastic job!”
Use clues to let pupils know when something essential is coming up. “This is critical information,” state emphatically.
Instead of using “everyone” or “all of you,” use your pupils’ names.
Children with autism should be seated in the front row of the class so that they can see and hear properly. If they are very sensitive to being stared at or to being touched, you may put them in a quiet corner towards the rear of the class.
Repeat instructions or stages in the material they just learned, such as an arithmetic or grammar issue, to the youngster with autism.
In various places or at different times, find safe sensory methods to practice these abilities.
Peers with autism should be paired with neurotypical students who can serve as role models.
Make yourself a role model for anticipated behaviour.
Creating a Social Environment that is Safe for All Students
Children with autism may exhibit unusual behaviors, and they may find it difficult to comprehend the actions of their neurotypical peers. One strategy to lessen social problems and bullying is to help neurotypical classmates comprehend the actions of children with autism. Additionally, it is helpful to assist the kid with autism in comprehending their peers’ social reactions.
Your teaching assistant may use a variety of teaching methods in the classroom to help the kid with autism learn social relationships. A kid with ASD, for example, may learn more readily with visual aids such as drawings, so your assistant might sketch social interactions or use dolls or toys to repeat social interactions rather than discussing what occurred to the child.
This is particularly true for children on the autism spectrum who have difficulty understanding verbal signals, digesting language, or engaging in sophisticated spoken social interactions. If a social encounter can be recreated for the youngster with visual assistance, they will be able to grasp what happened with the neurotypical student. They may then learn that particular phrases, facial expressions, and body language signals signify certain things and are not intended to be antagonistic.
You may assist your neurotypical pupils comprehend the behaviors presented by children with autism as the lead instructor. Stimming, for example, is highly prevalent in children with ASD, regardless of severity. Hand flapping, producing repeating sounds, and other repetitive behaviors are all examples of stimming.
By releasing emotional and physical energy, stimming helps individuals on the spectrum relax. Stimulating behaviors are not stopped by modern therapists who specialize in assisting children with autism unless they are severely disruptive or cause damage. An applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapist may be able to assist the youngster in learning when and how to practice stimming actions safely.
These behaviors are more likely to be seen in neurotypical children who share a classroom with neurodivergent children. If they don’t comprehend certain behaviors, they may be wary of them.
Creating a Secure Sensory Environment for Autistic Students
Sensory overload, which includes brilliant colors and patterns, flashing lights, moving pictures, loud or random noises, repeated sounds, scents, and other input, is very stressful for children with autism. Consider clutter and sensory inputs as one of the greatest ways to provide a comfortable learning environment for all of your students, whether they are on the autism spectrum or neurotypical.
If you need to work on a computer or tablet, find a method to turn the screen away from your kids, dim the screen, or turn it off when you aren’t using it right away. If your students work on laptops or tablets, dimming the lights and turning down the volume may assist neurodivergent kids focus on their work.
Bright colors may be quite distracting, particularly when used in large groups. While visual aids may help kids with autism learn more effectively, having too many visual aids that aren’t structured might be confusing or overwhelming.
Toys should be kept in a distinct area in your classroom, and all children should work together to put them away when they are finished. Keep jackets and possessions in cubbies or lockers, and educate kids how to arrange their desks so that pencils, books, and paper are easily accessible and well-organized. Students with autism will benefit from less clutter on their desks since it will help them concentrate on their own work.
If you have older children who may not be in your classroom all day, ask your school if there is a location where they may go to relax. This setting may feel safer than the classroom. This might be a courtyard, the nurse’s office, the school administrator’s office, or a space designated for special needs pupils.
The Sensory-Friendly or Relaxation Area
For your kids, create a “relaxation zone” or a “concentration corner.” Make sure there are some comfortable seating options, such as giant cushions or beanbag chairs, as well as some basic games, such as stress squeeze balls or fidget spinners. When you provide a safe place for kids to unwind after a stressful interaction or to go when they’re just overwhelmed, you’re teaching them that their emotions matter and that they’re capable of managing them.
If a student with autism is very agitated and having difficulty learning or connecting with their neurotypical classmates, a teacher’s assistant may help. You establish a secure learning atmosphere for all your kids by emphasizing that recovery and de-stressing assist all students learn.
Here are some suggestions for making your classroom a more relaxed environment:
Soft surfaces for sitting or laying down are available.
A weighted blanket may assist to induce a sensation of relaxation because of the physical pressure.
If at all feasible, dim the illumination in the area.
If your youngster is sensitive to loud or unexpected sounds, invest in some noise-cancelling headphones.
To assist the youngster cope with stimming and tension, place some touch or sensory objects in the vicinity.
Get to Know the Parents
One of the most effective methods to assist children with autism in your classroom is to establish direct contact with their parents.
Parents may hire outside aid for their kid, such as an ABA therapist, or get particular training to help them support their child at home. Ask questions about particular ways the kid learns new skills and enjoys interaction when you engage with the family, so you may replicate some of these positive supports in your classroom.
Remind parents of their child’s accomplishments while speaking with them. Make a list of the child’s strengths, and note any new abilities or pleasant social interactions they’ve had. You are not seeking to control or repress a kid with autism, just as you are not attempting to control or suppress neurotypical students. Instead, you want to encourage their good attributes and their aptitude to learn.
If you want extra assistance in the classroom, you should request it. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates that all schools and school districts provide certain classroom accommodations so that all students may study in a safe, accessible, and supportive environment.
Returning to School During or Following the COVID-19 Pandemic
Although children with autism are more vulnerable to stress and sensory overload than neurotypical students, anybody might feel nervous, afraid, concerned, or fatigued during this time. Even though a kid on the autistic spectrum benefits more from classroom learning, they may have become used to home education as a result of their parents’ daily routine. When kids return to school, their routine will alter.
Children with autism may struggle even more if your school is trying online or hybrid virtual-live learning. Other computer applications, sensory input from their home, or how other students seem on the screen may easily distract them. Because they do not get the same anticipated signals as they would in person, they may find it challenging to follow vocal instructions online.
You can improve the online learning experience for all students, including those with autism, by taking some simple actions.
Allow pupils to turn off their cameras if they don’t want to be seen or if they need to establish a more private space for themselves.
In a written form, either in a chat window or in an email to the pupils, reiterate the instructions. Tell them you’ll be putting down their homework or classwork requirements as well.
Allow for numerous pauses, since youngsters may rapidly feel fatigued from gazing at a computer.
Neurodivergent youngsters are likely to endure greater levels of stress than in past years when schools reopen or provide some in-person schooling for children with specific needs like autism. This is due in part to changes in their everyday routines as well as their educational expectations. It might also be due to their understandable fear of being ill.
Before the kids return, make sure you tell them about the efforts you’re doing to keep the classroom healthy and safe. Ascertain that your children are aware of the importance of:
Masks are worn.
Keeping hands clean and using hand sanitizer.
Distancing laws apply in the classroom, throughout the school, and even outdoors.
One-way corridors are used.
Avoiding locations where there are a specific amount of people.
As schools adapt to the epidemic and reopen in the next year or two, numerous modifications will be implemented. Keeping track of these changes, as well as ensuring that your children with autism understand them and are reminded of them regularly and in a calm way, can help them remain as comfortable and attentive as possible in their new circumstances.
Providing assistance to students with autism entails obtaining assistance for your teaching.
It is critical to provide a safe atmosphere for all of your pupils, regardless of their level of autism. Although neurotypical children seem to “blend in” more readily, even kids without an autism diagnosis may benefit from a less stimulating setting, a peaceful location, clear direction and teaching, and well-defined daily routines. This also aids neurotypical students in developing empathy for autistic children who need more learning assistance, particularly in terms of language and social relationships.
A teacher’s assistant, training in specialized teaching techniques, help from outside groups that deal with children with autism, and even special education training are all options that your school may give. All of these things may help you assist students in your classroom who have autism or other kinds of neurodiversity.
The ADA, above all, mandates that schools accommodate students with special needs. This includes giving you the assistance you need to ensure that all of your pupils are secure and able to study.
What Kind of School Would Be Designed for Autistic Children? (December 2019). The Atlantic Ocean.
Teaching Techniques for Students With Autism Spectrum Disorder Saint Joseph’s University is a Catholic university in the United States.
Fact Sheet about Autism (for Schools). (Updated June 2018). KidsHealth.
Important Classroom Strategies to Assist Autistic Children (In June of 2020). Autism Parenting Magazine is a publication dedicated to parents of children with autism.
Six Teaching Tips for Students With Autism (March of this year). Teach for the United States of America.
School Community Tool Kit, Teachers: Strategies for Success (September 2018). Autism Speaks is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about
How to Make a Sensory Room for Autistic Children. (Sept. 2020). Autism Parenting Magazine is a publication dedicated to parents of children with autism.
How to Support an Autistic Child in the Classroom Autism Speaks is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about
Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and Educational Accommodation. Law Offices of Stimmel, Stimmel, & Roeser.
Preparing for an Autistic Student’s Return to School is a guide for teachers. The National Autistic Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of
The “curriculum adaptation for autism” is a guide that provides educators with the tools to create an ASD-friendly environment. The book includes strategies and activities that can be used in a classroom setting.
- curriculum for autism pdf
- how to set up a classroom for students with autism pdf
- accommodations for students with autism pdf
- printable autism checklist for teachers
- asd teaching
Janice is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Special Education. She also holds a Master of Science in Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) from Queen’s University, Belfast. She has worked with and case managed children and youth with autism and other intellectual and/or developmental disabilities in home and residential setting since 2013.