How to organise preschool work for children with autism

How to organise preschool work for children with autism

How to organise preschool work for children with autism

Children with autism benefit greatly from learning in a structured environment. Order and routine will be your best allies when teaching children with additional needs.

Most preschools have a set daily schedule and have well-organised equipment for children, particularly Montessori preschools. Other preschools are more free play orientated, having a more flexible routine and environment where the learning is more child-led.

Regardless of which approach you use in your classroom, consider revising how you organise work for your student with ASD, as adding some more structure.

These strategies will help your students engage with the work and complete their work independently.

  1. Reduce physical clutter and visual clutter. Consider putting toys away and rotating toys every few weeks. This reduction in physical clutter will allow children to see the toys available, plus they might be happy to see new toys every few weeks. Having too many toys can easily distract children, particularly children that might have difficulties remaining on task.
  2. Organise equipment in trays or boxes so the child has all the materials needed for the task in hand when he gets the tray/box. If possible, label with pictures the trays and containers to help the child learn the name of the task or toys included, i.e. threading, pegs, cars, pouring, scooping, puzzle, etc. If your student is using PECS, make sure the pictures or symbols you use to label the work are the same as the ones available on his/her PECS book.
  3. If your student has difficulties remaining focused on a task, consider simplifying the tasks. Remove some of the work so that the child can finish the job quickly and successfully. For example, pegboards are normally presented with a bowl with many pegs. Remove some of the pegs; you might leave just a small amount so the child can finish the task easily. This will give the child a sense of achievement. You can add more pegs week after week as the child makes progress with this task.
  4. Consider having a quieter table for children who find it difficult to concentrate when working near other children. Find a quiet corner in the classroom, separated from distractions, if possible. Make sure you have space for 2-3 children at that table, as this will allow the child to do work with another child or a small group. Avoid isolating the child with the teacher or classroom assistant. We want to give the child the opportunity to work in a quieter place, but in the company of some peers.
  5. Consider having a mini schedule for work time. Some children work well just picking up work from shelves. Some others might benefit from a mini schedule. This way, they know what work needs to be done and how much work they have to do. You can also consider a choice board, where you give some work choices, but the child chooses what task he/she wants to do next.

I hope these ideas for organising preschool work for children with ASD help you working with your students. 

Are any of these ideas new to you? 

Which one would you like to try with your child?

Let me know in the comments below.


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  1. Karen Leavy

    Thank you for your very informative suggestions, I’m looking forward to trying them in the environment where I work, you truly are inspirational for me x

    • Silvia Angel

      Thank you, Karen, I am glad you find these suggestions helpful. Keep up the great work x


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