Classroom Displays – Autism Friendly

I’ve got a guest post this week. I hope it will help you make your classroom Autism friendly.


The author is S.B Linton who runs Autism and she’s provided us with some great tips. If you’ve questions please let us know in the comments and we’ll try to help. (If you use twitter be sure to follow her on there AutismClassroom twitter as she posts lots of useful links)

The numbers of students with autism in our schools is increasing, as is the need for classrooms that effectively educate children with autism.

The following information from the book How to Set Up a Classroom for Students with Autism: A Manual for Teachers, Para-professionals and Administrators by S. B. Linton, highlights some tips in setting up an autism friendly classroom.

Set Up a Classroom for Students with Autism_ A Manual for Teachers, Para-professionals and Administrators_ S. B. Linton.jpg

Use Various Types of Visual Schedules

  • Daily class schedules to accurately tell what activities will occur that particular school day. This type of schedule should be posted, easy for students to follow and should be large enough to see from across the room.
  • Individual/personal schedules to help students organize, learn routines and possibly relieve stress for some students with autism by giving them an idea of what to expect. A personal schedule might also show sensory input activities which are specific to that student, individual speech therapy times, break times, small group areas, or toileting opportunities, which may not be the same exact time as other students.
  • Task schedules to serve as directions. They help to visually “break down” the elements of a task or an activity for a student. Task schedules show a student what will occur within the context of a structured lesson or activity, much like directions. Task schedules can also help students perform tasks without the use of a verbal prompt from the adult, thus increasing independence.
  • Visual Reinforcement schedules to give students a visual indicator of when their reinforcement or break will occur. These may be helpful for a child who is on a behavior intervention plan and needs to be reminded that their reinforcement will be coming soon.

Organize the Room to Support the Student

  • Create clear visual boundaries in the classroom.
  • Make various centers and locations for the students to move to throughout the day to avoid having them sit in one spot all day.
  • Create work areas near blank walls or facing way from peers to improve concentration.
  • Remove distracting items such as string, bright colors, loud appliances.
  • Create a safe place or quiet area in the room for the student if they need a retreat.
  • Remember you will have to teach play skills and social skills. They do not come naturally for some students with autism.
  • Seat “runners” with their back facing a wall or divider and have the adult facing the student, between the student and the door.

Be An Effective Collaborator

  • Creating a specific time for staff to meet, answer questions or create new plans is a critical.
  • View student’s objectives as a shared responsibility of the student’s team.
  • Keep a notebook or journal that is sent from school to home each day.

Use Language Based Techniques

  • Try a set of pictures showing the steps in washing their hands or a visual task analysis for hanging up their belongings in the morning to help keep some students focused.
  • Write down directions instead of ju st using words.
  • Use hands on activities as much as possible.
  • Use a visual topic board to show the students what the lesson will be about.

Question. Discuss. Learn.

About Linda Hartley

Hi, I enjoy helping teachers to make their classrooms into interesting visual learning environments. I write most of this site and I also run the Classroom Displays online course which you can find out more about in the sidebar.