The nuts and bolts of an autism classroom are the structure and the schedules. It’s my bread and butter and I couldn’t get through one minute of the school year with any success without careful consideration and implementation of these two classroom components.

Classroom Structure

The physical structure of your classroom is important. Having a classroom that is visually defined and visually defined is essential for children with autism. Check out the Seven Steps posts on classroom structure: Why Structure is Important; Classroom Structure Considerations; Visually Divided & Defined; Structure in Inclusion; and Making Structure Work.

I have a TON of furniture in my room. In order to create physically separate centers, I use desks, shelves, and dividers to structure my class. My advice – hoard around your school. Snag old teacher desks, unwanted shelves, student desks – whatever! You need a lot of furniture in order to provide physical structure in your class.

Here is my classroom’s layout:

The Autism Helper - Room Diagram

Here is how we use the classroom:

The Autism Helper - Room Diagram

If these are hard to see – you can download both diagrams as PDFs: Room Layout Diagrams.

Classroom Schedules

You need loads of schedules for your class. I have schedules coming out of my ears. You need a student detailed schedule, an adult detailed schedule, and schedules for your students. You should have a schedule for each child in your classroom. Just do it. Don’t argue. Even if you “think” they “know” what they should do. Assumptions like that will cause a big headache later. If your boss never gave you a schedule with your days off or holidays etc. – you’d be pissed. You want to know what is happening and when. So do our kids. I did a very thorough post on how to pick the appropriate type of schedule for each student last summer.

Work/Break Color Coded PECS Schedule – iPads are high powered reinforcer for this student so we build it right into his schedule. This clearly shows that after his work tasks – he gets iPad. The color coding adds to discrimination. Purchase here. 

The Autism Helper - Schedules

Color Coded PECS Schedule:

The Autism Helper - Schedules

Paper Visual Schedule: (student uses dry erase marker to cross off each task) Purchase schedule pieces here.

The Autism Helper - Schedules

Paper Written Schedule for Whole Week:

The Autism Helper - Schedules

Paper Written Schedule for the Week with Times:

The Autism Helper - Schedules

First/Then Picture Schedule: We used this last year for a kiddo in my class who really struggle with picture discrimination. I will be recreating this in another classroom this year but wanted to be sure to share it too!

The Autism Helper - Schedules

The Autism Helper - Schedules