Supporting students with autism: 10 ideas for inclusive classrooms (2023)

According to: P. Kluth (2010). "You're going to love this kid!": Teaching students with autism in the inclusive classroom.

While most educators agree that there is no one-size-fits-all recipe for teaching a single student or group of students, there are certainly some guidelines that may be helpful in assisting students with specific designations. Students with autism may have unique learning, social skills, and communication needs, so teachers need strategies to address each of these areas. These ten simple ideas will help teachers address some of the needs above and offer guidance to bring out the best in students marked with autism.

1: Get to know the student from the student

Educators who need information about a student often look at the person's educational records. While these documents are certainly a source of information, they are rarely the most useful source of information. Teachers who want to know more about a student with autism should ask that student for information. Some students are willing and able to share information, while others may need persuasion or support from family members. Teachers can request this information in many ways. For example, they might ask the student to take a short survey or sit down for an informal chat. A teacher asked her student with autism to create a list of teaching tips that could help children with learning disabilities. The teacher then published the guide and distributed it to all educators in the school.

If the student with autism cannot communicate reliably, teachers may reach out to families for help. Parents can share the teaching tips they have found most helpful at home or provide a video of the student participating in various family and community activities. These types of materials tend to provide educators with more useful and tangible insights than traditional educational reports and assessments.

2: Teach fascinations

Whenever possible, educators should use interests, strengths, abilities, specialties, and aptitudes as teaching tools. Can a passion for GPS be used to inspire more reading (operating manuals), new math skills (being a “human GPS”: calculating the shortest route between two places), or fun social science questions (“What would it be like, would dignity be the Would the world be different today if Christopher Columbus had GPS?” [For more information on using Fascinations to support students with autism, seeJust give him the whale, a book I wrote with my colleague Patrick Schwarz on the subject.]

(Video) Helping children with autism succeed in a general ed classroom

3: Get them talking

In some classrooms, a handful of students dominate small-group conversations and whole-class discussions. While it is important for these verbal and outgoing students to have a voice in the classroom, it is equally important that other students, including shy and quiet students, students using English as a second language, and students with disabilities, have an opportunity to share . and challenge ideas, ask and answer questions, and share thoughts. To ensure all students have opportunities to communicate, teachers need to create structures and activities that allow for interaction.

In one classroom, students were asked to "turn around and talk to each other" at different times throughout the day. A high school history teacher used this strategy throughout the year to split up his classes and give students time to teach each other material. After giving fifteen-minute mini-lectures, he asked students to turn to a partner and answer a specific question or repeat a concept he had taught. For example, after giving a short talk on the presidency, he asked the students to discuss, “What qualities do Americans seem to want in a president? and "How has this list of desired qualities changed over time?" A student with Asperger's Syndrome who needed practice to stay on topic and take turns could practice them daily.

Teachers can also provide opportunities for communication by giving all students "airtime" throughout the class discussion. One way to do this is to ask the whole class for physical responses to specific prompts. For example, instead of asking, "Who can give me a fraction that's equal to half?" the teacher might say, "Stand up if you think you can tell a fraction that's equal to half." This strategy works not only allows all students to provide an answer, but also allows for some teacher-approved moves, which students with autism often appreciate. Whole class physical responses are also appropriate for non-speaking students, making it a perfect choice for the diverse and inclusive classroom.

4: Specify options

Choices can give students not only a sense of control over their lives, but also an opportunity to learn about themselves as workers and learners. The choice can be particularly helpful for students with autism who have special needs in relation to the learning environment, teaching materials, and communication. The choice can be incorporated into almost any part of the school day. Students can choose which exams they take, their role in a collaborative group, and how they receive personal help and support. Examples of options that may be offered in classrooms include:

  • Solve five of the ten assigned tasks
  • Work alone or in a small group.
  • Read quietly or with a friend
  • Use a pencil, pen or computer
  • Do some research in the library or resource room.
  • Take notes with words or pictures.

5: Consider handwriting alternatives

Writing can be a great source of stress and difficulty for students with autism. Some students cannot write at all, and others who can write may have difficulty. To support a student who is struggling with writing, a teacher can try to encourage the child as they try to write something: a word, a sentence, or a few lines. Teachers may also allow the student to use a computer, word processor, or even an old typewriter for some or all of the lessons. For some students, being able to use a word processor while writing helps them focus on the task at hand (content) rather than their motor skills (process).

(Video) Including Students with Autism in General Education Classrooms: Tips for Teachers - By Josh Taylor

6: Help with the organization

While some students with autism are extremely organized, others need support to find materials, keep their lockers and desks tidy, and remember to take their assignments home at the end of the day. Consider implementing support strategies that all students might find helpful. For example, teachers can copy homework for all students, pack backpacks, put away materials and clean up workspaces together. The structuring of this daily time gives all students the opportunity to organize and reflect on the transition from school to home. Specific skills can also be taught during this time (e.g. creating to-do lists, prioritizing tasks).

7: Support transitions

Some students with autism struggle with transitions. Some feel uncomfortable switching from one setting to another, while others have difficulty switching from one activity to another. People with autism report that the changes can be extremely difficult, causing stress and disorientation. Teachers can minimize the discomfort students feel during the transition by:

Use a visual timer to allow students to self-manage time during an activity.

  • Remind the whole class before each transition.
  • Offer the student or the whole class a transition activity, e.g. For example, writing in an exercise book or, for younger students, singing a short song about tidying up.
  • Ask colleagues to support the transition period. In elementary school classes, teachers may ask all students to move from one place to another with a partner. In middle and high school classrooms, students can choose a hiking partner in their free time.
  • Provide a transitional aid (a toy, object, or picture).

8: Create a comfortable classroom

Sometimes students are not successful because they feel uncomfortable or insecure or even anxious in their educational environment. Providing an appropriate learning environment can be as central to a student's success as any teaching strategy or resource. Students with autism will be better prepared to study in places where they can relax and feel safe. Ideas for making the classroom more comfortable include providing seating (eg, bean bags, rocking chairs); Reduce direct light where possible (e.g. use upward projected light, provide a sunshade for a particularly sensitive student); and minimize disruptive noise (e.g. provide earplugs or headphones for certain activities).

9: Take a break

Some students work best when they can pause between assignments and take some type of break (walk, stretch, or just stop working). Some students need walking breaks; These breaks can last from a few seconds to fifteen or twenty minutes. Some students will need to walk up and down a hallway once or twice, others will be fine if they are allowed to walk around the classroom.

(Video) Autism Behaviour Solutions for the Inclusive Classroom

One teacher, realizing the importance of these educational breaks, decided to offer them to all students. He would periodically give students a message for discussion (e.g., What do you know about probabilities?) and then instruct them to "talk and walk" with a partner.

10: included

For students to learn appropriate behaviors, they need to be in an inclusive environment to see and hear their peers speak and act. If students are to learn social skills, they need to be in a place where they can listen and learn from others who are socializing. When students need specific support to succeed academically, teachers need to see how students function in the inclusive classroom to know what type of support is needed.

If it is true that we learn by doing, then the best way to support students with autism in inclusive schools is to involve them.

This article is from the website of Dr. Paula Kluth. These, along with many others on inclusive education, differentiated teaching and literacy, can be found Visit now to read her tip of the day, read dozens of free articles, and learn more about supporting diverse learners in K-12 classrooms.

(Video) Supporting autistic students in inclusion settings


How do you accommodate students with autism in the classroom? ›

Here are six tips to help your students with autism thrive in the classroom.
  1. Avoid sensory overload. Many unexpected things can be distracting to students with autism. ...
  2. Use visuals. ...
  3. Be predictable. ...
  4. Keep language concrete. ...
  5. Directly teach social skills. ...
  6. Treat students as individuals.
Mar 15, 2016

How do you teach special needs students in an inclusive classroom? ›

Making Classrooms Inclusive for Special Needs
  1. Review Individual Education Plans. ...
  2. Create a Safe Space. ...
  3. Consider How Students Interact With Their Environment. ...
  4. Differentiate Instruction. ...
  5. Rely on Your Fellow Teachers.

How can you support an inclusive classroom? ›

5 inclusivity practises to consider
  1. Create a supportive, respectful environment: promote diversity and fairness.
  2. Have high expectations of all your students. ...
  3. Create a supportive peer culture both inside and outside the classroom. ...
  4. Plan learning which includes participation from everyone and encourages success.
Nov 15, 2017

What suggestions would you make for a classroom to be an inclusive setting for all children based on incorporating a high level of diversity equity and inclusion standards? ›

Use these inclusive classroom strategies to help get you started with building a positive classroom culture:
  • Get to Know Your Students and Let Them Get to Know You. ...
  • Create a Safe Space for Students to Share. ...
  • Deliver Instruction in a Variety of Ways. ...
  • Choose Relevant Literature. ...
  • Invite Guest Speakers to Share Their Stories.

How can you make a classroom inclusive for autism? ›

Top 5 Tips
  1. Get to know the individual. Every autistic person is unique. ...
  2. Work in partnership with the autistic pupil, parents and other professionals. ...
  3. Address issues around stress and anxiety. ...
  4. Reasonable adjustments need to be made to school policies and practices. ...
  5. All school staff should have autism training.
Aug 13, 2018

What are the 5 components of special and inclusive education? ›

  • Child Find Through Referral Process. ➢ Referral for evaluation and special education services begins by identifying students who have additional needs and who may be at risk for developmental disabilities. ...
  • Assessment. ...
  • Methods of Assessment. ...
  • Placement. ...
  • Parent Involvement.

What is an example of inclusion in the classroom? ›

Child's desk is included with the other groups of desks in the classroom. Child's desk is away from the other desks in the classroom. Child has access to and is included in classroom lessons and activities that are adapted or modified to meet his/her special needs. Child works on his/her own curriculum.

How can a teacher promote inclusive classroom? ›

To address an inclusive classroom, teachers must make suitable changes in the knowledge delivery so all children can learn according to their ability. These include interactive whiteboards, paired learning, student-led presentations, etc.

What are the 15 inclusive values? ›

The result of the analysis presented in Table 1 with respect to Research Question 1 revealed that business studies teachers required inclusive values such as patience, tolerance, fairness, friendliness, empathy, kindness, respect, sympathy, compassion, acceptance, passion, confidence, trust, encouragement, affection ...

What is an example of inclusive practice? ›

For example if you're planning a sports activity make sure you adapt it for a child who is in a wheelchair. This ensures that they feel included and part of the activity despite their condition. This will improve their confidence and allows them to join in and socialise with other children.

What are the four 4 key elements of inclusion? ›

But what are the essential elements of inclusion? This paper explores essential core elements that allow inclusion to flourish. Based on an extensive time in the field as part of a year-long doctoral research project, these elements are: relationships; shared experiences; advocacy, and a sense of identity.

What are some inclusive practices in schools? ›

4 ways to incorporate inclusive practices
  • Make curriculum considerations for all students. Every student needs accessible and appropriately challenging lessons. ...
  • Use a universal design for learning framework. ...
  • Involve families. ...
  • Match students with supportive peers.
Jun 19, 2020

What are three ways to create an inclusive classroom? ›

Tips for Making Classrooms More Inclusive as Students Head Back To School
  • Use inclusive language on all forms. ...
  • Stock your library shelves with diverse books. ...
  • Create a welcoming bulletin board. ...
  • Develop clear classroom and/or school agreements. ...
  • Prepare for teachable moments. ...
  • Model inclusive language.
Aug 24, 2018

What are good activities for autism? ›

Hobbies such as collecting stamps, playing cards or board games, drawing and photography can also provide opportunities for enjoyment, as well as increased self-confidence and motivation individuals on the spectrum.

What is inclusion for autistic students? ›

Inclusion of students with autism in the general classroom can minimize stigma against autism while students learn how to communicate appropriately with one another. Having a student with autism in a general classroom also reduces negativity associated with autism, and children will learn how to work with one another.

How Can autism be inclusive? ›

Incorporate program modifications that allow the child with autism to share activities and experiences with other participants. Focus on the participant's strengths.
  1. learn empathy and are exposed to diversity. ...
  2. become comfortable interacting with people with disabilities.
Aug 30, 2018

What are 5 strategies used to work with a child with autism? ›

Our 5 Best Autism Teaching Strategies
  • Support Routines and Transitions. Most children with autism are sensitive to abrupt changes in routine and will learn best in routine situations. ...
  • Use Visual Cues. ...
  • Use Special Interests as a Gateway to Teaching Skills. ...
  • Incorporate Sensory Tools. ...
  • Support social skills practice.
Nov 5, 2019

What are examples of inclusion in special education? ›

Examples of inclusion in the classroom is providing access to the same routines and curriculum, encouraging participation of all students in activities done inside and outside the classroom, and holding all students up to the highest of standards regardless of a disability.

What are the seven C's of special education? ›

The seven skills are: • Collaboration • Communication • Creativity • Critical Thinking • Character • Citizenship • Computational Thinking If we believe our work as teachers is mainly to prepare students for successful futures, then we should give opportunities for students to strengthen these skills.

What are inclusion activities? ›

Diversity and inclusion activities refer to the process of integrating people of different races, ethnicities, genders, and backgrounds into the workplace culture. Diversity and inclusion activities are intended to promote increasing team participation and a sense of belonging.

How do you make an inclusive activity? ›

8 Ways to Make Your Small-Group Activities More Inclusive
  1. Promote your students' cooperation and communication skills.
  2. Provide customized instructional support for students who need extra help.
  3. Encourage friendships and interactions among kids who don't normally play together.
May 7, 2015

What are six inclusive behaviors? ›

These traits are commitment, courage, cognizance of bias, curiosity, cultural intelligence, and collaboration.

What are the five faces of inclusion? ›

On this basis, five interrelated situations of inclusion and exclusion are constructed: self-inclusion/self-exclusion, inclusion by risk/exclusion by danger, compensatory inclusion, inclusion in exclusion and sub-inclusion.

What are some inclusive behaviors? ›

13 consciously inclusive behaviors to foster in the workplace
  • Set expectations and actions. ...
  • Accept a wide variety of viewpoints. ...
  • Instill a sense of mutual responsibility with agile frameworks. ...
  • Talk about what is right and what is not. ...
  • Address inequalities through open and honest dialogue.
Dec 14, 2021

What is the golden rule of inclusion? ›

The Golden Rule of Inclusion states that a teacher must find a balance between “maximising the individual potential” and “maintaining the Integrity” of the game. This includes both the individual student and all students in the class or sports group. Know the goals of your program.

What are the 6 steps of inclusion? ›

Six steps to embedding a diversity and inclusion strategy
  • Train people managers in diversity and inclusion. ...
  • Be aware of protected characteristics - but think beyond them. ...
  • Address your unconscious bias. ...
  • Promote and support employee networks. ...
  • Gather, report and act on diversity and inclusion data.
Jul 20, 2021

What are the 3 pillars of inclusion? ›

The three pillars of inclusion
  • Defining inclusivity.
  • Pillar one: Teaching and learning.
  • Pillar two: Wider support and culture.
  • Pillar three: Key workers.
  • Final thoughts.
  • SecEd Autumn Edition 2022.
  • Further information & resources.
Nov 1, 2022

What accommodations are available for students with autism? ›

A supportive work area with breaks and downtime

A work area that reduces distractions, which could be sensory information like noise, bright colors, and smells can help with focus. The area could also include earplugs or a wiggle seat, depending on the child's needs.

What are ways a teacher can accommodate a child with special needs? ›

Successful Strategies for Teaching and Supporting Students with Disabilities
  • Lean on others. ...
  • Stay organized. ...
  • Don't reinvent the wheel. ...
  • Know that each student is unique. ...
  • Keep instructions simple. ...
  • Embrace advocacy. ...
  • Create opportunities for success. ...
  • Don't feel pressure to be perfect.

What is the most appropriate classroom environment for a child with autism? ›

Children with autism thrive in a structured and predicable environment. Establish routines early on and keep it as consistent as possible. In a world that's ever changing, routine and structure provide great comfort and support to a child on the autism spectrum. Define routines clearly and review routines daily.

What are the five most frequently used accommodations for students with special needs? ›

10 Most Common Accommodations in an IEP
  • Alternative Instruction Format. Sometimes, hearing a lesson in class alone doesn't get the information across to the student. ...
  • Using Digital Tools. ...
  • Testing Accommodations. ...
  • Taking Breaks. ...
  • Preferential Seating. ...
  • Extra Time for Assignments. ...
  • Study Skills Instruction. ...
  • Sensory Tools.

What are 3 ways structure supports students with autism? ›

This chapter discusses the features of structure that have proven useful in classrooms for students of all ages with autism. These features are physical organization, scheduling, and teaching methods. The key to effectively using each of these features is individualization.

What are examples of accommodations in the classroom? ›

Examples of accommodations include:
  • sign language interpreters for students who are deaf;
  • computer text-to-speech computer-based systems for students with visual impairments or Dyslexia;
  • extended time for students with fine motor limitations, visual impairments, or learning disabilities;
May 24, 2022

What are special programs activities best for children with learning disabilities? ›

There are umpteen extracurricular and out-of-school activities that can help children with learning disabilities succeed beyond the regular learning environment.
  • Theatre/drama. ...
  • Learn by doing. ...
  • Interactive learning. ...
  • Personalised learning. ...
  • Voluntary work:
Oct 30, 2018

What are the 5 needs of students? ›

Basic needs refer to the most essential resources required to thrive as a student including safety, food, housing, financial health and overall wellness (physical, psychological, and spiritual).

What are the most effective teaching methods for children with autism? ›

4 Teaching Strategies for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Strategy #1: Limiting Sensory Overload.
  • Strategy #2: Using Rewards and Incentives (Applied Behavior Analysis)
  • Strategy #3: Providing Appropriate Feedback for Students with ASD.
  • Strategy #4: Focusing on Autism Reading Comprehension Strategies.

What are enrichment activities for autism? ›

Kids can explore jazz instruments, the world of chamber music, ballet movements, storytelling, short films, puppetry, and sensory-filled performances that are warm and welcoming.


1. High-Leverage Practices: Supporting students with disabilities in inclusive classrooms, Research
(Institute of Education Sciences)
2. Autism (ASC) Classroom Strategies | 10 Suggestions for Schools & Teachers | SEMH Support & Wellbeing
(SEMH Strategies)
3. High-Leverage Practices: Supporting students with disabilities in inclusive classrooms, Intro
(Institute of Education Sciences)
4. Practical Tips On How To Teach An Autistic Student - Inclusive Classroom | by Maria Borde
(Autism Tips)
5. Inclusion Classrooms
(Autism Society of Southern Illinois)
6. 221. Autism Spectrum Disorder: How to Support Students with ASD in Inclusive Educational Settings
(Inclusion Collaborative)


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