Lesson 2: Understanding Autism while Creating a Safe Classroom


Lesson 2:


  • Learners will briefly discuss the definition of Autism, and will then indicate the support and the needs of these students.
  • Learners will distinguish how to identify and reduce risks in student and staff classrooms.

Scenario 1:

I am sure you have all heard of the saying "you don't know until you walk in someone else's shoes". Have you ever stopped what you were doing and actually tried to do it? What can you learn from viewing in the eyes of others? Do you find out more about who they are? What they do? What they like or dislike? Do you find that this is important to take into consideration with your students? Do you feel as though if you knew more about who they are in their eyes you would be able to create a more adaptive and safer learning environment for your students with this knowledge? I am sure that most can say that a safe environment is making sure there is a smoke detector, certain hazardous items are out of reach. Yet is that all? Let's find out.


Autism is:

  • a brain disorder, effecting at least 1 out 68. This disorder causes an individual to show the following behaviors: lack of interest of either people or certain things, some may be non-verbal or socially awkward. Many are sensitive to different sounds and even senses of touch. Eye contact is not common and may be easily triggered (look at chart). Those who have autism will show frustration or anxiety through crying, hands on ears, rocking, self-inflicted injuries, screaming, yelling, hitting, tantrums or even running away from what makes them feel uncomfortable. Some students with autism have a delayed response and processing time, therefore a rule at hand is to allow at least 10- 30 second pause between questions or directions. Student with autism need a structured plan whether verbally cued before a change is made or through visuals.

A safe classroom is:

  • Create a space where the student walks in, and feels like they are surrounded by an environment that is safe and will allow them to learn. Not only should a safe classroom be organized but it should clean, inviting, and follow all hazard precautions. For students with autism, anything can be unpredictable therefore corners of the book shelf, outlets, lighting structures, placements of toys, windows, wall hangings and so on. Everything should have a place.
  • Plug ins for outlets
  • Window locks
  • Door handle blocks
  • Posters or wall hangings high enough so they are out of reach from students
  • Built in desk and chairs
  • Toys places in bins or a toy chest
  • Bolted in room dividers
  • Think outside the box, what could be moved or used for students to get hurt by? How can you change and fix the situation.

Speak to your school about providing or purchasing safety precaution tools. Some schools even have their own workshop section. See if they can build or put something together for your needs.


  • Watch
  • AUTISM:'
  • Teaching Students with Autism: [Video3]

Watch one video below: (you may watch both if you'd like) Remember that autism is never the same for every student.

You can see that their are not many sources for this topic. Yet, t is a very important feature to take in mind within education! Do you agree? What else do you believe makes for a safe classroom?

  • Read
  • Taking a Walk in Different Shoes:Article6]

When reading keep in mind of the hazards from students point of view or level, also beyond the doors of the classroom!

  • Keeping Your Classroom Safe: Copy and paste this link into your browser to bring you to PDF file: www.isu.edu/pubsafe/errp/KeepingYourselfSafe.pdf
  • This read is optional but it is a good source if you would like to learn about:
Effective Strategies of Including Students with Autism:Article8]
  • Write
  • Journal Directions below
  • Answer
  • Discussion and Question located in the Discussion Tab


  • In your Journal Remember to use the 4 step approach:
  • Facts
  • Ideas
  • Learning issues
  • Action plan


Taken from Article 6 you will be furthering Idea #1 by taking a walk in someone elses shoes and document this into your weekly Journal:

"The first step is to look with new eyes at what actually may be there to see. Special and general education colleagues could alternate roles as observer and observed to gain new views. Here are some ways that might work."

"Idea 1: For one week, each take notes on how "different strokes for different folks" is both beneficial and problematic for your students. In addition to noting these when you happen to notice, also take five-minute respites from "doing," and just "be" eyes and ears noticing: Who is doing what-when-for how long? Who is actually getting how much of what? Wait till week's end before comparing notes and chewing over what you've each seen."

  • Use these questions (PDF) to help guide you in your documentations.

File:About Me.pdf



In this journal section you will be reflecting on your own classroom documenting all of the safety hazards that seem to be noticeable that need to be fixed. Or areas that have already been corrected. Also make note if you noticed these before or after this lesson. What helped you? What do you plan on doing to correct these areas?


Congratulations! You Have Completed Module 2 and May Now Proceed to: Module 3: Sensory Diets


Kacie Borland's Personal Page

Understanding Autism and their Needs and Risks


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