Seven Steps for Setting up a Stellar Autism Classroom: Work

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

Work Tasks, Academic Work, and IEP Goals

Here is the big kahuna – you’ve gotten organized, your classroom is set up, you have schedules, and you have a data system – so now, what work are your kids going to do? Since some kids with autism are not on grade level – we usually cannot use the typical set of textbooks without accommodation. All of the work my students do is completely individualized. I make most of the materials my students use. Don’t get overwhelmed – it’s taken me years to build up my collection of resources. I try to use my school’s curriculum approaches whenever possible.

IEP Goals: So this is where it all starts – IEP goals are all based on state standards or common core. So they are a differentiated version of the general education curriculum.

Academic Work: So again I try to use the same curriculum as the rest of the school whenever possible. That way I have something to talk about in grade level meetings, with other teachers, and the is some basis for comparison. It also makes inclusion opportunities much easier! So for my students who are working on more academic goals –

  • For reading I used Guided Reading. In addition, my kids work on sight word fluency with Dolch sets and functional vocabulary words with daily timings. We also use the Words Their Way series for spelling (it’s GREAT for children with autism – very visual and lots of repetition if done correctly). We also do read alouds, extensive activities on answering wh- questions, and individualized lessons on comprehension (these are areas my kids really struggle). For writing, I used an adapted version of Writer’s Workshop. I supplement this with my own writing lessons and activities as well. We also do weekly vocabulary words.
  • I kind of do my own thing for math because my school uses Everyday Math and I don’t think it’s a great fit for my kids. I used to use Touch Math but honestly it’s too hard to fade out those dang touch points! My students also work on fluency with math facts (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division and/or a combination), time (to the hour, half hour, quarter hour, minute and/or a combination), and money (coin identification or coin combinations).
  • For science and social studies, my coworker and I make all of our own materials. She makes science units and I make social studies units and our kids switch classes for these work tasks. This works out amazingly. If you can figure something like this out – do it! This is the social studies unit we are doing in September!
Work Tasks: Check out my post from a few weeks ago for some cheap work task ideas. Also check out my pinterest board on work tasks – I have tons of ideas there!  My video tutorial of my independent work task system and life skills rooms photos also have additional ideas. It’s all about getting ideas. Once you start making some tasks, you’ll get more and more ideas. The tasks galore books are great for ideas. If you are thinking pre-academic work task, think about the fine motor skills involved in academic skills and base tasks about developing those abilities. If you are thinking life skills tasks, think about the skills you do each day (sort laundry, match socks, sort coupons, organize mail – all great task ideas!).

You don’t need everything done before the first day of school – this is something you will develop and grow!


  1. Have you used Unique Learning System? It’s the same company as News 2 You, but ULS has a science and social studies focus and assessments you can use. I love it as a go to for theme ideas and topics, but find that I have to adapt a lot of it pretty heavily, and can’t use the assessment as a true assessment (it’s computer-based and have to stop the test after 3 or 4 questions because they get too hard too quickly). But I love that it has TONS of materials to pull from so that I don’t have to reinvent the wheel quite so often (I only have access to the middle school level).
    love your blog!

  2. Hi Sarah! I have heard of ULS but my school only has a subscription to News 2 You. I have heard it is very cool though! Thanks for reading 🙂

  3. THANK YOU for all you teach us!! I was wondering where you get the “Journal Topic” pictures and the “what animal would you be” questions, and what are they called? YOU ARE AMAZING!!!

  4. Wow! Your ideas are so awesome!

  5. Thanks for reading!

  6. I LOVE all of your ideas and getting to see how you run your class. I’ve watched your videos, they are a great resource. I’ve been searching for some good Special Ed teacher blogs. So glad I ran across yours!

  7. Thanks Sasha! I love the life skills room idea. I have just the space for it in my classroom.

  8. I love it!!!!!!!!

    • Hope it’s helpful! Thanks for reading 🙂


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