5 Must-Haves For an Autism Classroom

Categories: Classroom Setup

I’m so excited to talk about the five must-haves for an autism classroom!  I have taught autistic children for many years and have found amazing tricks and tools that help routines in the classroom run so much smoother.  

1. Visual Schedules


I love visual schedules. They help my students SO MUCH!  I always make sure these are prepped and ready for students on their first day in my classroom. To prep my schedules each school year, I stock up on AstroBrights paper.  I take whole sheets and laminate them.  I add velcro for the schedules, moveable arrows, and specials icons.  Why do I velcro the schedules on?  So that I can easily change a student’s rotations and not have to make a whole new schedule! 

  • Tip: make 2-3 extra schedules each year in case you get new students after the first day of school.

One type of schedule does not fit all with autism and should be differentiated for each student.  Read more about types of schedules in this post by Heather.

My schedules are made using a combination of materials from Especially Education and Amy Groesbeck.


2.  Flexible Seating Options


Comfort and choices in my classroom are VITAL.  My students love and need flexible seating options.  I have a variety of seating choices for my students because they all have various needs.  These are my favorite flexible seating options:


3.  Independent Tasks/Centers

Autistic students can become prompt/adult dependent, AND FAST.  One great routine to implement is independent tasks or centers.  This also frees up staff to help with small group instruction and data tracking.  Ideas for independent tasks/centers are: 

My structured work system visuals are from Simply Special Ed.  You can find The Autism Helper’s task box system here.


4.  Sensory Materials


Sensory materials and fidgets are another necessity in my autism classroom.  I love to give my students movement breaks and fidgets while they are learning – because they need it! Giving my students breaks and tools to move, jump, kick, and catch help in so many ways such as:

  • Coping with anxiety
  • Calming
  • Sensory input
  • Reinforcing

Some of my favorite sensory tools/fidgets are:


5.  Differentiated Curriculum

It’s no secret that special education teachers teach multiple grade levels. On top of that, our students are usually at all different levels academically.  I love The Autism Helper Curriculum for these reasons.  This curriculum is a whole year’s worth of curriculum and it’s all differentiated with so many subjects and levels to choose from.  Plus, the curriculum includes pre and post-tests, embedded data sheets, separate data sheets, unit maps, anchor charts, and extra supplemental activities to help practice the skills being learned.  What’s not to love?!

You can purchase the curriculum on Teachers Pay Teachers, the new Autism Helper Store, or sign up for TAH Curriculum Access!

Thank you for reading about my 5 must-haves for an autism classroom!  What are your must-haves?


  1. This is amazing! Your classroom is beautiful. Your students & families are so lucky to have you 🥰

  2. These are wonderful ideas from a wonderful teacher! I love visual schedules as an SLP as well. It helps to make the school day more predictable and provides structure for our kiddos.


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