Classroom Management within an Autistic Classroom

This is the blog post that I had the fantastic opportunity to have showcased on Rachel Lynette's amazing blog Minds in Bloom and I am now sharing it here for my followers to be given another chance to read all about it!




Visuals

Timelines



So, each student has their own timeline. One of our children is half day, so he has a different timeline to the others, another child doesn't yet understand symbols - so he has objects for his timeline i.e swimming trunk for swimming, a bus toy for a trip, calculator for maths etc. By having individual timelines, the students can have it more personalised to them and their needs. (Our children all have they own colour which is used for everything.)

First, Then

We all know how hard it can be for our students with autism to engage in an activity, especially if they don't really understand why they need to work, they would much prefer to go back to playing elsewhere or having some free choice. The first, then boards are great for helping students to understand better that they WILL have what they want - but first, they have to work! Be sure to have these on you and ready for when they sit down for work. Before calling a student to the work desk, get everything laid out, that way you can go straight into the activity as opposed to rustling about trying to find things. 



I am working for

These are not very commonly known but are a GREAT asset, especially for students who understand a reward system. You can individualise these to different students as well - putting their favourite characters on etc. I recommend building it up - you may start with the student only having to achieve 3 boxes, then move on to 4,5,6 etc. This is a great visual to show them throughout the session/morning/day how close they are to achieving their reward!


Communication Books

Picture yourself in a foreign country, nobody speaks your language, you're in a busy restaurant and you're trying to order something, nobody understands you, the menus are in a different language, how do you communicate? That is how some of our children feel on a day to day basis, they know what they want, they just don't know what you're asking of them - or how to tell you what they want. Communication books are great in the way that each student has their own one, it's personal to them, you can add the symbols that are most relevant to them and depending on their ability. 



Timers

Have you ever said to one of your students "just one more minute" then looked at the clock and 3/4 minutes have passed? Yep, it happens to everyone. The best thing to use is a timer, the sand timers are great and come in all sorts of different times - ranging from 30 seconds to 1 hour - some even more! 
It's a great motivator for students to keep going, especially when they can physically see that time is going and they'll soon be on their way for free choice!


Transition Boards

Transition is hard for many of our students, they may not understand where they are going or what they are going for. A transition board is great to have somewhere that is easily accessible and preferably on the way to the door to the exit of the classroom. We have a few main areas; class, bus, home, playground, assembly, lunch. The children are able to put themselves onto the place they are going next or can have support from staff so they are able to see where they are going. Each morning the children come in and check themselves in by moving their faces from home to class!



Traffic Light System

This is a great system that is really popular with a lot of our classes. You can personalise it to say whatever you want or just have it as a general traffic light system. You can use an arrow to move it onto the part that you feel necessary or have children's faces by it - however you feel it would work best with your class. You can use it for noise levels, behaviours etc. We tend to use this for behaviours, if a child starts to display challenging behaviours we head to the traffic light and show them orange and we have lots of visuals around on how they can get back to green, the same for red, some of our students take themselves to the poster now and show us how they feel!



Greeting Books

 The greeting books (Good Morning/Good Afternoon) are great to help the students settle down read for their work and get them focused. Their greeting books are all different levels - depending on the individual. They contain things like; What day is it? What month is it? What season is it? Who's in class today? How's the weather today? What should we wear in this weather? How do you spell your name? (Not necessarily in that order.) 



Movement Breaks 

Movement breaks are all about getting the students moving, getting them back to being focused and re-energised to carry on with their work. You can either have print-outs that you can use with the students as visuals or you can put some songs on youtube that are just great! The students love it and helps to re-charge their batteries, these work especially great during wet playtimes - if the children have been indoor all day!



Transition Songs

Transition is a big issue with children with autism and one of the best ways that we get our children ready for what is coming next is songs! We have; Good Morning (welcome the children in) Counting (for maths work) Literacy (alphabet), Playtime, Dinner, Snack, Goodbye etc. These are played consistently in a routine of when the activities happen next so that the children can learn what happens after certain songs and prepare themselves for what is coming next.

Achievements

Each week, on a Friday we have an achievement assembly. One child in each class is given a star of the week certificate for something they did well that week and they get to put their face on the giant star on display in the hall. There is also a pupil of the week- where one pupil from the whole School is chosen to be on the IWB for everyone to watch and see what they have done so well that week, this is then followed by 'Reach for the Stars' (song by S Club 7) where students are encouraged to sing, dance and sign along to the music! 

When the pupils complete work we also put it up for show on our display;



Professional Documents

IEPs are great but we also use Pen Portraits which are great for staff and parents/guardians to discuss/find out more of the day to day needs of children, it's on one sheet of paper and this gets updated yearly (or more if necessary), it's also great to pass to anyone new in the room. It's a document that follows the children onto their next class in the next year too.




Class Meetings

Class meetings are a really important when working with Spec Ed. Monday morning, just before the children come in we have a planning session, we go over the weekly plan and what is going on each day (this is pretty much similar each week just different art activities, cooking etc). On Friday morning we reflect on how the week went, what worked etc.

Liaise with parents

We liaise on a daily basis with parents/guardians through our home/school books;



And finally, 
Displays

It's best to keep displays nice and simple, not too busy or overpowering that's going to take their attention away from other tasks in the classroom. Here's one of ours;


Thank you for reading my post on Classroom Management in an Autism Classroom. I have been working with Autism for almost 6 years now and still learn new things each and every day in this World! Feel free to head on over to my blog for more info or check out my store with lots of great resources to set up your classroom! Have a great year and enjoy each moment with your students!

Nikki 

  




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