Best Autism Classroom Ideas – 4 lines or less!

So I have decided to join this link-up hosted by E, Myself, and I to post your best classroom ideas. Now where the heck do I even begin this topic? I could write for 5 days. So in an effort to note create the longest post ever written – I’m going to try to limit myself to 3/4 line comments about a bunch of topics.  I said ‘try’ – we’ll see 🙂


Lesson Plans: In some self-contained rooms, the way you do lesson plans is a little different. Talk to your principal to create a format that is most beneficial for the way your run your classroom. I do no whole group instruction so the way I write my lesson plans is adapted. I use this minutes form to track where we are working on IEP goals to supplement lesson plans: 

IEP writing: Each state has different systems for IEPs. My big advice for any IEP – is save everything! I don’t know how many times I have been working on an IEP – walked away from the computer and then lost everything. I keep a word document for each subject area with all the goals I have ever written saved – if you have a similar student or need ideas you can pull from there! I use that minutes form to calculate the minutes per goal. 

IEP meetings: Start with the positives, bring work samples/videos/curriculum materials, don’t talk in acronyms, ask parents questions, and leave the meeting on a high note. I also type out all goals and give to parents because I think it’s hard to read from the IEP or computer. 

Data: This is going to be hard to write only a few lines about! Most essential advice: find a system that works for you and make it easy!! You will never take data if it’s too complicated! Here are my data sheets on TpT (20 data sheets for $2.50!).

Parent Communication: Again keep it simple and something you can keep up. Don’t commit to a daily notebook if you won’t be able to keep it up. Consider something the students can fill out. Here is a free download for a daily visual parent letter (I can adapt it if you want!).

Classroom Structure: Keep the centers in your room physically divided. This helps children with autism understand their environment. I like to use shelves when possible so then there is ample storage at each station. This is also easy to adapt with general ed rooms for students in inclusion – use colored tape on the floor, visuals, specified seats for different subjects, etc. 

Schedules: Think of what is most ‘typical’ – What do general education students use at that age? Have that be your goal. The wall PECS schedule should not be kept forever if a student can move on to something more typical. 

Organization: LABEL EVERYTHING in a self contained classroom. Not just for the students but for the adults! On any given day I can have up to 9 adults in my room (me, 2 aides, SLP, OT, social worker, school psych, counselor, Deaf/HOH teacher…). How are they all going to find everything they need??

Independent Work Tasks: Make it easy at first and then make it more complicated. That way your students have things to work on while you are teaching the more complicated things!

Behavior Management: For me – a classroom wide system does not work. It needs to be individualized or at least grouped. Look at the function of the behavior!! Think about what is the student getting (attention, escape, etc.) from engaging in that behavior. If you don’t consider function – you might be accidentally reinforcing the negative behavior (giving them what they want!).

Prompting: Always keep functional independence in the back of your mind! Keep yourself in check – constantly ask yourself – do I need to be helping in the way? Could this student do this without my help?

Reinforcement: Make sure you have reinforcement schedules in place in addition to your behavior management strategies!! You need to teach and reinforce the more appropriate behaviors or you will never get rid of the negative behaviors! You should be reinforcing WAY more than reprimanding. 

Communication: This should be embedded into all areas of your classroom! This is not only the job of the SLP. Communication is a critical deficit with children with autism. 

Social Skills: Again – integrate this in any ways you can. I love academic based games for this reason (bingo, I have, Who has? etc.) because you are working on academics but also hitting up social skills. 

Reading: Academic instruction is completely individualized in my class. For reading I use Guided Reading, Words their Way for spelling, I create my own vocabulary lists, daily fluency timings on Dolch and functional words, and Writer’s Workshop. It’s a mash up of a bunch of approached but it works for me – find what works for you.

Math: Ditto on the reading advice for math. I used to love Touch Points System but realized it was way to hard to fade out for my students so we ended up dropping that. Try different approaches and see what works for your students. 

Social Studies: I like community based goals so I can account for my minutes spent on community field trips. I am also starting monthly thematic units this year with adapted work for students that are lower and higher functioning. 

Science: I like functional goals – hygiene and weather are big areas I pull from. 

Classroom decor: I keep it simple and clean. I try to keep my classroom decor age appropriate. I teach 5th-8th grade so we don’t have any early childhood type decor. 



Okay so I cheated on a few headings and wrote a little more than a few lines. Oops! For more in depth information on each of the topics: check out my 7 Steps for Setting up a Stellar Autism Classroom. There are 7 lengthy posts on each of the 7 steps including photos! Scroll down on my homepage and you will find them!

Check in tomorrow for Freebie Friday – Daily Double! Get the freebie you may have missed last week plus another new one! You have to get it on Friday for it to be FREE!




  1. I just want to let you know how much I love your site! I’ve been looking through your older posts and love everything 🙂 I’m signing up for donorschoose right now!!

  2. Thank you so much Brie! That really means a lot!! Good luck with donorschoose! I’m obsessed 🙂

  3. I’m starting a new sped job in a few weeks. Thanks for all the ideas!


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