Seven Steps for Setting up a Stellar Autism Classroom: Communication


Seven Steps for Setting up a Stellar Autism Room

… or how to incorporate these steps into your general ed room

1. Organization and Planning

2. Classroom Structure

3. Schedules

4. Visuals

5. Data

6. Work Tasks, Academic Work, and IEP Goals

7. Communication



We are on the last step! Are you as excited as me? Hopefully this set of extremely long posts has been helpful! Communication is a critical component to a successful autism program.  Communication is one of the main diagnostic criteria of autism. I could (and probably will 🙂 ) write countless posts about communication strategies and activities. I will try to take a snapshot of what communication instruction should look like in your class. The biggest note: communication is not solely the job of the speech therapist. If you are lucky enough to work in a district or school where a speech therapist is spending loads of time in your class – I hate you! I love my speech therapist and wish I more time her each week but I don’t make the rules! Communication instruction should be embedded into your day so should be part of your classroom set up.

  • Embed communication opportunities through the day: daily questions, contrived opportunities with a missing item (give juice box without straw, paper without pencils, etc.), snack/lunch, daily greeting, errands around school, etc.
  • Make sure there is a central location to keep PECS books and AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) devices available at all times (see my adapted PECS book for my students who are lower functioning).
  • Create stations and activities that lend itself to communication opportunities.
      • Cooking: My guys love cooking! We have made everything from mac and cheese to applesauce to french toast. There are oodles of communication opportunities in a cooking lesson. Following a recipe works on sequencing, receptive language, and build vocabulary. Then you can work on requesting ingredients, turn talking, and commenting! The fine motor skills practice doesn’t hurt either!  Here is a free visual for pineapple smoothies that we made in summer school. Check out my TpT store for other visual recipes! 
      • Games: Again countless chances for communication! Turn taking, requesting, commenting galore! This is also a great independent activities for higher functioning students. My kids love bingo! One kid gets to “be in charge” and read the cards. They could play for hours! I made this September Bingo, October Bingo, and November Bingo for the fall since we are wearing down our other bingo games! 
      • Art: Ditto on the last two ideas. Tons of turn taking, requesting, and commenting.


That is the overview on how to set up communication instruction. Within this structure you can build in additional activities and individualize these activities to the needs of your kiddos!


  1. Love your communication ideas! How do you communicate with the parents about their student’s day? Do you have a specific home-note form?

  2. Thanks! I purchased September & November great ideas for picture matching and vocabulary building!

  3. Really?
    I’d make sure your instructions for the mac & cheese are what you want the student to do. There’s some confusion with the instructions. The first step says get a bowl and fork. The picture indicates get a bowl and spoon. Which is it a fork or spoon?? If I were the child with autism if I grab the spoon and the instruction said fork it would be wrong. I’d be confused. Your ideas are good, but we mustn’t confuse the child with autism.

  4. It’s an old recipe picture. Mistakes happen! 🙂 It could definitely cause some confusion.

  5. I am learning so much.

    • Happy to hear! Thanks for reading!


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