Students with autism can benefit from an educational environment that is set up to assist them with the types of challenges they face. There are a few minor changes you can implement to make your classroom an optimum learning environment for a student with autism. Some of these changes consist of furniture arrangement and lighting, creating visual schedules and guides, and designating a quiet area. By making these few minor changes, the school day will be more enjoyable for both you and your students.
Because open spaces can be intimidating to students with autism, one of the most important things you can do in your classroom is clearly mark where different sections of the classroom begin and end. You can use furniture, such as bookcases, desks, and rugs, to create clear physical and visual boundaries. In addition, you may want to use blackout curtains on the windows so students are not distracted by the external environment. Classroom light filters are also great to create a relaxing atmosphere for learning and to help reduce eyestrain and to diffuse the harsh glare of fluorescent lighting.
Visual schedules and guides are very beneficial for students with autism. They can help to facilitate communication and therefore minimize behavioral issues. They can also help to provide predictability. When students with autism are able to better understand and anticipate what is going to happen next, it helps them to adapt more easily to their schedule and environment. Create a large, visual classroom schedule that students can refer to and make sure to include specific times and the activities that accompany each time slot.
A quiet area should be designated in a corner of your classroom. The quiet area will help to calm your student down if they begin to feel overwhelmed or anxious and this can help to avoid classroom meltdowns. The area should be free of visual distractions and excessive noise. Use a soft chair, like a beanbag chair, and provide headphones so your student can relax.
By taking into consideration the aforementioned changes, you will be creating an excellent learning environment for your students with autism. This type of learning environment will help your students succeed and stay on track. Remember, not every student is the same so feel free to tweak these changes to meet your students’ needs.
McCormick, Maggie. How to Design an Autistic Classroom. Ehow. Retrieved March 23, 2012, from: www.ehow.com/how_6515698_design-autistic-classroom.html
Renata, Rebeca. How to Set Up a Classroom for Autistic Students. Ehow. Retrieved March 23, 2012, from: www.ehow.com/how_7760988_set-up-classroom-autistic-students.html