Students diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum face unique challenges in the classroom. These individuals often respond differently to their environment behaviorally, communicatively, and socially. Schools can help to support students on the spectrum by implementing available supportive tools and encouraging teachers to respond to the specific needs of their students.
Schools can reduce social anxiety for students with autism by reducing sensory overload. Fluorescent lights, bright colors, excessive posters, and loud noises can distract or terrify students who process their environment differently. Calming, muted colors in the classroom create a soothing atmosphere and, in many cases, helps students with autism thrive.
Students on the autism spectrum thrive on routine and predictability. Having a set progression to each day’s activities allows them to feel secure about what happens next. Adding a visual schedule with words and pictures can also support their needs, regardless of their reading level. Students with autism also benefit from adults actively modeling expectations and rules than from verbal instructions.
Students with autism benefit from social skills training. Students with autism may miss subtle reminders that are appropriate for neuro-typical students. Schools can help teachers by engaging school counselors to take on some of these tasks.
Lastly, it is essential for those working in education to remember that each student on the spectrum is unique and responds differently to intervention techniques. While we can offer various tools that have worked in the past with many students with autism, observation is the best way to determine a positive strategy with any student.