5 Steps to Ensure an Inclusive Classroom

Imagine being an Autistic child in an inclusive classroom that is ignorant to the basic principles that keep you at ease. Unaware of your triggers, of the possibility that the sounds they make can shatter your inner peace. You are that student, thrown into a new environment that disrupts the very core of your routine. You are as unprepared as the people around you are, at coping with inclusion without the necessary knowledge to make it work. Unfamiliar sounds engulf your mind, strangers surround you and the teacher speaks to you as if the same type of communication that works for your peers also works for you. No one can ever fully understand what another person is going through but with the practice of empathy and a willingness to learn about those around you, great ideas like inclusion have the possibility of changing lives.

So I have devised a few simple steps on how to ensure that your inclusive classroom functions properly:

  • Create a routine for the class to follow…
  • Without constants or a routine, those with ASD may feel suffocated and retaliate to major changes in their daily schedule. With certain elements keep constant, they more easily adapt to their environment. That being said the classroom should focus on having a set list of rules and procedures to follow daily as well as a consistent routine during the learning process. A seating chart is a great example of consistency as well as a daily log of activities.
  • Promote different forms of communication…
  • Depending on where they sit on the autism spectrum, verbal communication may prove impossible in a classroom setting. Both the teacher and students must find other ways of communication, in order to bridge the gap between the students.  Different forms of communication may include gesturing, pictures, drawing, music, writing games and/or body language. Most importantly one must attempt to understand what their gestures and looks signify.
  • Facilitate changes in environment…  
  • The stress caused by a change in environment for a child with ASD is incomparable to that of other students, especially when dealing with their senses such as light and sound. The instructor must be aware of this and be able to help the child transition from space to space, may it be during a field trip or even recess. An instructor can do so by keeping small details in their routine constant, creating a sense of safety in an unknown space. One way an instructor may find different ways to facilities transitions is by seeing how their families help the child cope with change.
  • Give them freedom in their choices…
  • Whether it be sitting alone or with a group, a child on the spectrum needs to feel as though they have some control over their surroundings. In order to promote a comfortable space in the classroom, the students must have a say in how they work, where they work and with whom.
  • Include them in every activity…
  • The whole concept of inclusion is about including a certain group in order to help them thrive in society. When a child is put into a new place and given the chance to learn social skills and different social cues from their peers they must feel included in order to learn quickly. Having an inclusive classroom that is aware of their needs and partial to them, allows the child to have space where they feel free to listen to their peers, adjust to their surroundings and express themselves. This exposure to appropriate behaviors will give them the chance to thrive later on in the social arena or at least be able to cope at social events.

Embrace Autism is devoted to building a community that fosters inclusivity for those on the autism spectrum. We would love to hear from you! Feel free to comment below or contact us for more help with blog development.

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