School Training Module 5 Structuring the Classroom Environment

The Basics of Autism
Spectrum Disorders
Training Series
Regional Autism Advisory Council of
Southwest Ohio (RAAC-SWO)
RAAC Training Committee 2011
Training Series Modules
 Module One: Autism Defined, Autism Prevalence
and Primary Characteristics
 Module Two: Physical Characteristics of Autism
 Module Three: Cognition and Learning in Autism
 Module Four: Getting the Student Ready to Learn
 Module Five: Structuring the Classroom
 Module Six: Using Reinforcement in the Classroom
Training Series Modules
 Module Seven: Autism and Sensory Differences
 Module Eight: Sensory in the Classroom
 Module Nine: Communication and Autism
 Module Ten: Communication in the Classroom
 Module Eleven: Behavior Challenges and Autism
 Module Twelve: Understanding Behavior in
Students with Autism
Training Series Modules
 Module Thirteen: Social Skills in the School
 Module Fourteen: Functional Behavior Assessment
 Module Fifteen: Working Together as a Team
 Module Sixteen: Autism and Leisure Skills to
 Module Seventeen: Special Issues of Adolescence
 Module Eighteen: Safety and Autism
 Module Nineteen: Special Issues: High School,
Transition, and Job Readiness
Training Series Modules
 Module Twenty: Asperger Syndrome: Managing and
Organizing the Environment
 Module Twenty-One: Asperger Syndrome:
Addressing Social Skills
When arranging a classroom
environment for a student with
Autism Spectrum Disorder one must
consider 3 things:
1. Physical Structure
2. Visual Supports
3. Work Systems
Big Idea
The way an environment
is organized and laid out
is one of the most
important factors for
success in the classroom.
Physical Structure
 Physical structure should be considered in any
environment the student with autism is going to be in,
including: classrooms, hallways, lunch room, recess,
locker/cubby areas.
 The furniture, desks, and carpet areas are arranged
in a way that the student knows where an area begins
and where it ends.
 The arrangement of the room should decrease
auditory and visual stimulation.
 Materials should be organized and stored not in view
of the students.
Physical Structure in Different
Visual Supports
 Visual supports are a way to take what a
student hears and put it into picture/word
 Visual supports should be portable (able be
carried or moved) so that they can travel
with the student if necessary.
 Visual supports should not be taken away or
utilized only sometimes.
 Visual supports are more than just putting
labels on various items.
Reasons to Use
Visual Supports
 Improves predictability
(student knows what is
coming next)
 Provides clear
expectations (what work,
how much work, when am
I finished)
 Promotes independence
 Creates structure to
environments that are
often confusing
 Reduces anxiety
 Reduces behavioral
 Establishes trust
 Use as a contract (do this
work, then you get this
Examples of Visual Supports
 Visual Schedules (picture, words,
Group Schedules
First/Then Board
Visual Schedules
 The goal of a visual schedule is for the
student to INDEPENDENTLY move from
activity to activity, or classroom to
classroom within the school day.
 Schedules need to be portable and easy
to use.
 They should not be taken away.
 The schedule can be made using objects,
pictures, words, whatever works best for
the student
Big Idea
Students, even those with High
Functioning Autism or Asperger
Syndrome, may always need some
form of a visual schedule in order
to be successful.
Examples of Visual Schedules
Written Schedule. The student checks off
the activity as the school day progresses.
Picture schedule. The student takes the
picture and matches it to the same
picture in the area the activity will be
taking place.
Group Schedules
 Communicates to students
what activities will occur
during group time and what
will happen when group is
finished (wait chair icon)
 Decreases need for verbal
 Increases independence.
First / Then Boards
Consider this familiar scene…
The teacher wants student to
complete assigned work.
The student wants to play a
computer game.
Solution: Provide a first/then
board that communicates to
the student the ‘work’ they
have to do, then the reward
they get.
Visual Supports
Visual supports are a way to solve problems.
Ask yourself the following questions:
What do you hear yourself saying over and over?
What do you hear students asking you over and over?
Where is the student breaking down?
The answers to these questions lead you toward where visual
supports should be implemented.
Big Idea
“If you’ve told a child a thousand
times and he still does not
understand, then it is not the child
who is the slow learner.”
Attributed to Walter Barbee
Work Systems
 Work systems provide clear and predictable routines.
 Work systems increase engagement and on task
 Work systems promote independence.
 Work systems provide opportunities for students to
practice skills that have already been TAUGHT to
 Work systems can be utilized to practice academic
skills, daily living skills, recreation skills, and leisure
Work Systems
 Work systems can be utilized in multiple environments
including the classroom, lunch room, gym, office, community,
and home.
 Work systems contain activities the student already knows
how to do on their own.
 Work systems can be utilized to practice academic skills,
leisure skills, daily living skills, and recreational skills.
 The goal of work systems is for the student to complete the
activities with no adult assistance.
Work Systems
 Work systems are organized from left to
 Work systems answer the following
 What is the work to be done?
 How much work?
 When am I finished?
 What do I do when I am finished?
Big Idea
The main purpose of a work
system is to develop a way
that the student completes a
task independent of an adult’s

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