Ten ways of creating an autism friendly, all inclusive classroom

In a school classroom, mainstream or otherwise, you will find a wide mix of children, all with differing sensory needs. Some may be sensory seekers and others sensory avoiders. Their learning styles and abilities will also vary. So is there a way of decreasing anxiety and making a classroom inclusive for all these children without making anyone feel singled out? Here are ten brilliant ideas to try:

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Problems that parents of children with autism can have communicating their child’s needs to staff at school

Then, there is the problem of supply staff, dinner staff and visitors coming in to teach the class. None of them know the children. A lot of these are changeable jobs or are organised last minute and more often than not parents find that they are not aware of these new people until after they have already dealt with their child. In a lot of cases no information was passed on about their child’s needs. 

Schools in the Uk which arrange for children to be educated at home via tutors, or only allow them access to school for short periods are NOT meeting needs!

There are many, many Autistic children and children with Sensory Processing Difficulties who are “attending” certain schools, yet in reality are on reduced timetables or even being educated at home, by tutors provided by the schools for a couple of hours a week. This is not, in my opinion, meeting a child’s needs! If a child is so stressed due to their school environment that they can not cope for longer than an hour a day or even at all then they are clearly in the wrong environment

Our story part four – My fight to get my son into the right specialist high school

My heart goes out to anyone going through this, or similar, because I know so many parents who have the same story. I know parents who have ended up homeschooling for years because they aren’t given schools that suit their children. I know children who are not educated at all because they were sent to schools which couldn’t actually meet their needs. I know children, like my son who have ended up suicidal due to being in the wrong school. The system is not setup to help children like mine. The process of getting diagnosed, applying for EHC Plans, and choosing the right school is too tainted by funding issues. Children are being placed in the wrong schools for the wrong reasons all the time!

Our story part three – The years my Autistic child was stuck in mainstream Primary School!

 I remember clearly the time his teacher marched him to me crying after school. She handed me a piece of paper and told me he was being a nightmare. He had refused to do his work, been isolated all day and was allowed no playtime. She gave me the work to take home and said he needed to do it before tomorrow. The work was simple, it was drawing pictures of a story in order. I took my very distressed child home and after a lot of cuddles asked him why he didn’t do the work. “I cant draw a chicken” he said. He was that worried about getting the chicken in the first picture wrong that he couldn’t bring himself to do the work. I just looked at him and said “would you like me to show you how to draw a chicken?” he nodded and smiled and did that piece of work in two minutes. 

The problem with putting Autistic children straight into mainstream schools and what constitutes “meeting a child’s needs” at school?

I so very often hear upset parents, at their wits end because their child is not happy or understood at school, despite being told a school is able to meet their child’s needs. I feel that all children deserve to be in a school that properly meets their needs by providing the right environment and education for the individual child. I feel that if adjustments need to be put in place to the extent that a child is effectively excluded from the general life of the school then that school probably is not meeting the needs of that child.