What does an Autism Classroom Need?
Teaching students with autism requires special education teachers to have access to a wide range of effective resources and engaging activities. As special education teachers, it is crucial to have access to valuable autism resources that can enhance our teaching strategies and create inclusive and supportive classroom environments. I want to share with you 5 helpful autism resources for educators that I used in my elementary classroom.
Autism Resources for Educators
1. Visual Boards to Help with Behavior Management
Sometimes students with autism don’t have the words to express their needs. Offering students visuals that can guide them on what they might need or feel can be extremely beneficial in a special education classroom or even for any struggling students. Even students who are verbal struggle at times to retrieve the words or articulate what they need. I love to use a visual board for support when a student is struggling, overstimulated, frustrated, overwhelmed, sick, upset, tired, confused etc. This can help students learn to ask for what they need the more that we reinforce it.
The Behavior Management: I Feel & I Need Visual Choice Board is a valuable resource for special education teachers and what I used with my students in my autism classroom. It provides a structured system for students to express their emotions and identify their needs. Expressing emotions appropriately can be really difficult for kids with autism. By using visual prompts and customizable cards, teachers can help support behavior management and communication in the classroom. This resource is particularly helpful for students with autism as it utilizes their visual strengths and promotes self-awareness, self-advocacy and emotional regulation. Overall, incorporating this into the classroom can help create a supportive environment where students can effectively communicate their emotions and what they need. This will help lead to positive behavior and reduced anxiety.
2. Errorless File Folders
If you’ve never tried using errorless learning activities in your special education classroom, you are definitely missing out. Errorless learning activities have so many benefits such as promoting independence, helping students learn routines as well as building their confidence. Basically, an errorless activity or work task means there is no wrong answer. When I first heard of errorless learning, my reaction was “huh?” How in the world is a student learning with something that is errorless!? Sounds like mindless busywork. But they are learning! They really are! The best part? You can honestly turn any type of subject or assignment into an errorless task. My favorites are file folders for practicing colors, shapes, number recognition, 1:1 correspondence and counting. I have even used errorless learning activities with students for practicing CVC words and cut and paste activities! You can check out tons of Errorless Learning activities right HERE.
The Errorless File Folders Bundle includes a variety of errorless learning activities designed to develop essential academic skills in a structured and supportive manner. This is a nice way to start incorporating errorless learning resources into your classroom. Special education teachers can use these file folders during one-on-one or small group instruction to promote independent learning and boost student confidence. By minimizing errors and providing immediate positive reinforcement, these errorless file folders help students build foundational skills, such as letter recognition, counting and matching. The activities in this Errorless Bundle are meant to be engaging and visually appealing, which helps students want to complete more! I loved to use these as independent work tasks or for early finishers.
3. Cut & Paste Sequencing Activities
Next, I absolutely love using cut and paste activities with my students. Cut and paste activities are great because there are so many subjects that you can incorporate into them. In addition, it’s a fun way for students to practice their fine motor skills. Finally students love to be busy with their hands during small group or independent work time. I really feel that it helps to keep them more engaged. Check out 5 Ways to Use Cut and Paste Worksheets for more ideas!
I also always made sure to incorporate life skills into our elementary day. We can’t practice EVERYTHING in the natural setting so it’s okay to bring some work tasks into your classroom to reinforce community skills! The Life Skills Cut & Paste Sequencing Activities includes a variety of engaging and interactive worksheets that focus on sequencing tasks related to everyday activities. You can utilize these worksheets to teach students important life and safety skills such as riding the bus, crossing the street, mailing a letter and even checking out a book at the library. The step-by-step visual instructions and hands-on sequencing through cut & paste provides students with the structure and support they need to learn and practice these essential life skills. By using these sequencing activities, you will create meaningful and practical learning experiences that cater specifically to the needs of students with autism. In addition, it helps with fostering independence and confidence in your students.
4. Errorless Counting Activities for Math
Errorless counting activities for math are a game-changer when it comes to teaching students with autism. I told you above how much I love incorporating errorless learning into the school day. Math can be tricky for many students, especially those on the autism spectrum. Errorless counting activities provide a supportive and confidence-building approach to learning numerical concepts. By minimizing errors and focusing on success, these activities allow students to practice counting and number recognition without the fear of making mistakes. This creates a positive learning environment where students can develop their foundational math skills at their own pace. Errorless counting activities utilize visual cues, engaging visuals, and hands-on manipulatives to enhance understanding and make math more tangible for students with autism. By incorporating errorless counting activities into our math lessons, we can empower our students to build their math skills while fostering a sense of accomplishment and boosting their overall math confidence.
5. Visual Supports
Visual supports are like superheroes for students with autism in the classroom. Autism comes with its own set of challenges, like difficulty in communication and social interaction. That’s where visual supports come to the rescue! These handy tools provide a visual structure and make things easier to understand for students with autism. With visual schedules, social stories, and other visual aids, we can help our students better grasp expectations, routines, and tasks. Visual supports boost independence, calm anxiety, and improve overall communication by giving clear and consistent information. They’re like little reminders that help students follow directions, switch between activities and stay on track. Plus, they work wonders in helping students understand abstract concepts and social cues. By using visual supports, we’re showing our students that we understand them and we’re here to support their learning and growth in the best possible way. We cannot eliminate the visual stimuli our students experience, but we can limit the auditory clutter by using visuals!
The Classroom Starter Pack for Visual Supports will give you everything that you need and more to help your students out with their visual support needs. In it you will find 24 different visual aids that can be used to support students during any school setting or subject. It contains visuals such as wait cards, First/Then boards, I am waiting for__ boards, choice boards, Yes/ No cards, I need a break cards and so much more. In it, you will find tons of tips for implementing each visual as well as recommendations on what I did in the classroom.
I hope the above resources help you in your special education classroom like they have helped me! Please comment with any questions and happy teaching!