This blog post has been adapted from OAR’s resource “An Educator’s Guide to Autism”.
The right learning environment can make a huge difference to any young learner. But a sensory-friendly environment with minimal distractions can be particularly important for an autistic student, especially if they are joining the general education classroom for the first time. With the additional sensory challenges presented by mask-wearing and the organizational disruptions caused by staggered schedules or hybrid models, it is even more important right now to create an environment that is welcoming and familiar for your autistic students.
Each student is different, so be sure to speak with your student and their parents about their strengths and challenges. Once you learn more about your student’s individual sensitivities and characteristics, you now have the information you need to organize your classroom appropriately. There are ways that you can manipulate the physical aspects of your classroom and ways you can place autistic children within the classroom to make them more comfortable without sacrificing your plans for the class in general. The following infographic provides advice about how to set up your classroom to address some common needs of autistic students.
Of course, there are practical limitations on how much you can modify the physical characteristics of your classroom. Nonetheless, even a few accommodations to support your autistic student may have remarkable short- and long-term benefits. Be sure to modify these suggestions based on feedback from the child’s parents so that they are appropriately tailored.
For more information on how to support autistic students in the general education classroom, download or order OAR’s An Educator’s Guide to Autism or check out any of our other resources for educators!