Posted in Miscellaneous

5 Tips for Working with Students with Autism

It is more than likely that students with disabilities will be in your classroom because of the recent trend towards inclusion.  At first, that can sound kind of intimidating.  But, as Hellen Keller once said, “Knowledge is love and light and vision.”  So as you learn more, you can grow to love these students and then have a vision of how they can be successful in your classroom (and how you can be successful in your classroom!).

In this blog post, I have included 5 simple tips for success if you have students with autism in your classroom:

5. Don’t use a lot of idioms.  If you do, explain them.

A lot of individuals with autism take things quite literally.  For example, if you say, “Man, it’s raining cats and dogs out there!”, your student might look very confused and say, “But I didn’t see any animals outside.”

Imagine the confusion that might create if you used an idiom while teaching a new concept!

But, if you teach your students what the idiom means (in this case, that its raining a lot), then it can be a very useful tool in your classroom.

4. Have a set routine and stick to it!

A lot of individuals with autism have anxiety about the unexpected.  So, if you set specific routines in your class, it helps lessen that anxiety. That means the student with autism can focus more on learning.

Routine can include everything from what you expect students to do when they first come in the room, testing procedures (open book or not, etc.), always having art on Friday, if students can put away their stuff before the bell rings, having math at a particular time each day, and more!

3. Give plenty of warning before something unexpected happens.

Even with the best routines and procedures in place, something unexpected or out of the norm will happen.  Everything from fire drills, assemblies, to substitute teachers.  As you can imagine, these differences can cause a lot of anxiety for people with autism.

Make sure you give them plenty of warning beforehand.  If you know that there’s an assembly the next week, start telling them about it the week before (or a couple of days before, or the day before. The amount of notice needed totally depends on each student).  That way, it’s expected and causes less anxiety.

Obviously, you can’t always give a warning before something unexpected happens.  Since that’s the case, it’s time for suggestion #2.

2. Ask the special education teacher for specific questions.

If specific questions about your student come up, why not ask the person who has specialized in teaching students with disabilities?  They want to see both you and the student succeed.

Working with the special education teacher, you can come up with possible solutions for behavior management, how to lower anxiety when the unexpected happens, and other situations specific to your student, all while maintaining confidentiality.


1. Expect the best.

After all, “you can’t rise to low expectations”.



My brother was diagnosed with autism before I was born. So, disabilities have been always been a major part of my life. That's one of the reasons I'm studying Special Education at BYU. In my life, I've found people who haven't experience with people with disabilities are really nervous about people with disabilities. I've also found that the scariest thing in life is the unknown. So, I created this blog to help demystify people with disabilities by sharing experiences I've had, my perspective, and hopefully other people's perspectives as well. This blog is not meant to romanticize people with disabilities or mitigate the difficulties associated with being a human being (goodness knows, we all have our faults and can be difficult to live with at times--disability or not). But instead, I hope to show day-to-day experiences and long-term perspectives to give more information about people with disabilities.

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