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Creating an Enabling Environment. Annette Connah. The Rofft School. How good classroom practice can be adapted or extended to support children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Overview. The physical environment The sensory environment Signs and symbols. The Physical Environment.

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Creating an Enabling Environment

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creating an enabling environment

Creating an Enabling Environment

Annette Connah

The Rofft School

How good classroom practice can be adapted or extended to support children withAutistic Spectrum Disorder
  • The physical environment
  • The sensory environment
  • Signs and symbols
the physical environment
The Physical Environment
  • Create clearly defined areas based on IEP or curriculum targets e.g. play / creative area, individual or group teaching areas, independent work area
  • Use furniture to create areas, boundaries and barriers e.g. screens (portable) and cupboards, “make a line!”, back to back seating
the physical environment5
The Physical Environment
  • Make use of “visuals” e.g. photographic rules, a pictorial timetable (season, month, day, date, a.m/p.m), white board, individual schedules, start/ finish boxes
the physical environment6
The Physical Environment
  • Ensure a tidy, uncluttered room!
  • Basic equipment to be clearly labelled, easily accessible and in working order
  • Make use of areas within the school e.g. empty classrooms, hall, library, “quiet rooms”, school grounds
  • Create a “Safe Haven”
the sensory environment
The Sensory Environment
  • Visual
  • Auditory
  • Tactile
  • Smell
  • Taste
  • Lighting - avoid fluorescent and flickering lights
    • use subdued lighting / natural light /cover windows
    • try fibre optic lamps and lava lamps as a means of
    • “de-stressing”, fairy lights/ lanterns
  • Colour - neutral e.g. magnolia for walls and clothes!
  • Walls - not too busy!
  • Tend to be visual learners, therefore, make good use of visual schedules, time lines (birthday wall), mind maps, photos, pictures, diagrams, ICT


  • Dining room- provide a quieter place for those children who cannot cope with the hustle and bustle of the dining room
  • School bells- prepare by working on “the clock”/ visual timeline/social story
  • Fire alarms- warn in advance, make social story
  • Plays- talk about story, ask actors to visit class, sit at back of hall
  • Screamers- remove “perpetrator”
  • Toilets (flushing, hand-driers) - take children to the toilet at quieter times / social story


  • Have quiet music playing in the background
  • Provide a range of “instruments” to create a variety of sounds as a means of de-stressing e.g. rainmakers, headphones, “radiator in quiet room”
  • Sing!
  • Taking shoes off (did early man have shoes on when he invented the wheel!) - OK indoors?
  • “Children can learn with their shoes off” (B. Maines)
  • Try pumps, social story, reward chart
  • Extra sensitive to labels, seams,(socks) Velcro, sleeves
    • work with parents
  • Inappropriate touching - be consistent - NO TOUCHING
  • Kinaesthetic learners- e.g. early literacy and numeracy skills, make the most of plastic/magnetic letters and numbers, sand, water, dough, fuzzy felts, tracing,“gloop”
  • Hand Gym / Brain Gym
smell taste
Smell & Taste
  • Extra sensitive to smells – many of our children smell their clothes for identification e.g. after P.E. (quite handy!)
  • Many are repulsed by certain smells and tastes which may cause problems at snack time, dinner times, some curriculum areas (Celts)
  • Be aware of what is in lunchboxes and allow adequate space for seating
  • Aromatherapy – put a drop of lavender oil into play dough (be aware of allergies)
signs and symbols
Signs and Symbols
  • Makaton
  • SymbolsPictorial Timetables / Individual SchedulesPECSSocial StoriesFeelings Chart