Ways to Structure Classroom Activities for Children with Autism

Circle time or group time

It would be helpful ...

  • for children to be seated in chairs and have physical boundaries (a Rifton chair for Jared)
  • to have photos of child and child’s name on his/her group chair
  • for a timer to sound at the end of group time
  • to have brief circle time; include movement or music

Individual work activities

It would be helpful ...

  • for the child to be in a chair with a tray for working, not for punishment
  • for the child to have a finished box
  • to keep materials in tubs, keeping materials big
  • to reward the child immediately; to represent the reward visually (e.g., cup, Lite-Brite with push buttons, light box with shapes, trampoline, vibrators, etc.)
  • to keep tasks brief, so the child can finish quickly
  • to keep expectations of the task clear
  • to choose four tubs to do each day in order to establish a routine
  • to reinforce the child immediately, and condition other reinforcers
  • to have the child match pictures to pictures, sort objects, pour, put blocks in a can, put clothespins on a card, do simple puzzles, put blocks together, put tops on objects, etc.

Free play

It would be helpful ...

  • to keep toys in containers/tubs
  • to put pictures on the tubs and the cabinet, matching the pictures when returning the tubs to the cabinet
  • to keep only a few toys out at a time
  • to reduce free play and change it to center time

Transitions

It would be helpful ...

  • to have one area for transitions
  • to have audio/visual and verbal cues about transitions
  • for areas to be more distinct
  • for each area to have one or more functions
  • to have child-oriented schedules, using timers
  • to use an object board with a timer (a magnet board for Jared)
  • to reward coming to the table (a tupperware bowl with Chex cereal for Jared)
  • to have transition objects
  • for songs to signal transitions