Inclusive Classrooms 101: Students with Autism
Diversity & Inclusion

Inclusive Classrooms 101: Students with Autism

School's purpose is to be an inclusive environment- one that welcomes every child's abilities. For children on the autistic spectrum, the classroom environment may come with certain challenges, but many opportunities as well. Since the autistic spectrum is wide, with the right guidance and support from their teachers, there are cases where children not only adapt but thrive.

The practices below are for teachers who work with mixed classrooms and teach children with high-functioning forms of autism

Classroom practices to support a child on the autistic spectrum:

1. Build a structured classroom environment.

Children with autism tend to perform better in predictable and structured environments. Establish clear routines and provide visual cues to guide them through the learning process. Utilise visual schedules, and task organizers to help students anticipate what comes next, reducing anxiety and promoting a sense of security. Students should be reminded of their tasks, and their homework assignments should be structured. In case you need to break the lesson routine for a while, students should know it from the beginning of the lesson so that they won’t be surprised. 

2. Don’t focus only on teaching the language.

Sometimes, focusing on language acquisition is not as important as teaching social skills and norms. Social interactions can be challenging for children on the autism spectrum. Provide positive reinforcement, praise, and rewards when students demonstrate social skills, reinforcing their efforts and building their confidence. Teach emotional regulation techniques such as deep breathing exercises or self-calming strategies.

3. Tailor your instructional approaches.

Recognise that each on the autism spectrum has unique learning preferences and strengths. Present instructions and information clearly, utilising step-by-step guides, and visual supports to aid students in understanding and following directions. Remember not to put a lot of pressure on them during the lesson. Every 20 minutes give them the time and space they need to pause, rest, and digest what they have been taught. 

4. Collaborate with support professionals and families.

When it comes to supporting children on the spectrum, you need as much help as you can get. Work closely with support professionals, such as special education teachers or therapists, to ensure that the lesson meets students' particular needs. Communicate with parents or caregivers by sharing insights and progress updates, so that they can give you their input as well. 

Click here to learn all about differentiated instruction in the ESL Class!

Inspiring Quotes for Autism:

Temple Grandin

'Kids have to be exposed to different things in order to develop. A child’s not going to find out he likes to play a musical instrument if you never exposed him to it…'

Stephen Shore

'If you’ve met one individual with autism, you’ve met one individual with autism.'

Erin McKinney

'Our experiences are all unique. Regardless, I do believe that it is important to find the beautiful. Recognize that there is bad, there is ugly, there is disrespect, there is ignorance and there are meltdowns. Those things are inevitable. But there is also good.'

Amy Gravino

'I believe that inside every person who is bullied, there is a strength and a tenacity to survive. You don’t always know that this strength exists, but if you make it through those dark times, you become aware. You become a survivor, someone whose courage and spirit are far stronger than all of the hate and cruelty of their bullies. The one thing that I want to impart to children with autism is knowledge of their inner strength and the belief that one day at a time, they, too, can get through this.'

Amanda J. Friedman

'Sometimes the most powerful therapy is just a pause.'

Rachel Barcellona

'Everyone has a mountain to climb and autism has not been my mountain, it has been my opportunity for victory.'

Haley Moss

'I might hit developmental and societal milestones in a different order than my peers, but I am able to accomplish these small victories on my own time.'

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