This week, I am discussing antecedent interventions. These are strategies you can use to prevent problem behaviors from occurring in your classroom. Check out my posts on this topic all week long! Today, I will be talking about creating a structured environment.
Due to language difficulties inherent with a diagnosis of autism, students require a TON of structure to help them make sense of their environment. This structure needs to be provided in a visual way, since verbal language can be so hard for our students to understand. Two main ways structure can be provided is through the physical environment and schedules. This allows the environment to be predictable, which makes it easier when
Physical structure helps children understand where they are supposed to be. It also helps minimize distractions for our students. Students will be less likely to run/wander away from the station if it has clear, concrete boundaries. Some ways I help set-up physical structure in my classroom is through the arrangement of furniture. You can see the layout of my classroom below. Most areas are used only for 1 subject. This helps students understand even more what is expected of them. For instance, when they are at my Language station, they either work on flashcards with my assistant OR they complete worksheets independently in their binders. They won't be asked to play a game, they won't be completing an art project, they won't be doing puzzles, etc.
In order to even further emphasize the different areas of my room, beyond the physical structure, I also label each area. I label the area somewhere on the wall or higher up (so that is visible from around the room.
I also label the area on the actual table or a nearby shelf. This label also has a velcro dot, so that my students (with velcro schedules) can bring their schedule picture to the station and "check-in." When they are finished, they take that picture back to their schedule and put it in a "finished" envelope before grabbing the next picture.
Tomorrow, I will be talking about one of my favorite strategies....SCHEDULES!!