Autism Friendly Environments in Schools
“I hated the corridors. So many people, the noise made my head hurt. I couldn’t focus on what I was doing, where I was going. Class wasn’t much better with so much noise, flickering lights, I couldn’t concentrate”. Boy with ASC, Year 9
In busy, mainstream classes it can be difficult to make huge changes to class layout or fittings and fixtures. There are, however, some simple changes to the classroom which can help children with autism feel calmer and more focused.
- Avoid clutter and ‘busy’ displays.
- Have a clear space around your whiteboard with minimal distractions (posters/notices) around it. This enables students to focus solely on the screen/board.
- Avoid changing the class layout too frequently and give advanced notice of this change if it is planned.
- Be aware of sensory considerations. Fans, heaters, flickering lights, blinds etc.
- If possible carpet the floor to avoid scraping of chairs on a hard floor.
- Ensure all pupils have clear sight of the whiteboard.
- Display visual pictures with key vocabulary. This helps students remember and understand if they miss or don’t understand verbal information.
- Allocate a place for coats and bags. Label equipment and make sure this is stored in the same place each time after use.
- Consider having a seating plan. Discuss with the pupil where they like to sit. Near the front is advisable, to minimise distractions.
- Some classrooms (Art, Technology or Nursery) will be busier and less structured than other classes. Bear this in mind and offer pupils calm time or a movement break out of the class if they struggle.
Click here to find information on supporting young people with autism during break and lunch times at school.