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.
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:
Here is how we use the classroom:
If these are hard to see – you can download both diagrams as PDFs: Room Layout Diagrams.
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.
Color Coded PECS Schedule:
Paper Visual Schedule: (student uses dry erase marker to cross off each task) Purchase schedule pieces here.
Paper Written Schedule for Whole Week:
Paper Written Schedule for the Week with Times:
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!