How to Make Schools More Autism-Friendly

By raluca.olariu@…, 20 April, 2023
people seating on chairs

The importance of making schools more autism-friendly cannot be underestimated.

For children with autism, attending school can be a difficult and overwhelming experience due to social and sensory challenges.

To ensure that these students can reach their full potential and have access to the same opportunities as their peers, it is essential for schools to create an environment that is safe, supportive, and tailored to the needs of individuals on the autism spectrum.

By implementing certain strategies and tools, educators can foster an inclusive learning atmosphere for all students and make sure that those with autism are able to get the most out of their educational experience.

In this article, you'll learn:

  • What are the challenges students with autism face at school
  • How to create a sensory-friendly classroom
  • Why raising autism awareness in schools is important

Understanding the Challenges of Autism in Schools

For students with autism, attending school can present a number of unique challenges. Due to the social and sensory difficulties associated with autism, it is important for teachers and school staff to be aware of these issues and how they can affect the student’s ability to learn.

Common difficulties include difficulty making friends, difficulty understanding social cues, and difficulty following directions. Additionally, some students may also experience sensory overload due to bright lights or loud noises in the classroom.

Creating a Sensory-Friendly Classroom

Creating a sensory-friendly classroom is key to making schools more autism-friendly. A sensory-friendly classroom should be designed with the specific needs of students on the autism spectrum in mind. Educators should take into consideration lighting, noise levels, and other factors that can have an impact on their student’s ability to learn.

A good place to get started would be to invest in noise-canceling earmuffs, headphones, or other noise-reducing items. Additionally, providing students with a quiet space where they can go to relax and regroup can be beneficial.

A sensory-friendly environment could also mean providing students with weighted lap blankets or weighted vests as these items can help to reduce anxiety and improve focus in students with autism.

Sensory-friendly classrooms also look different in terms of the type of curriculum being used. Depending on the student’s needs, teachers may need to adjust their lesson plans accordingly and provide visual aids, such as pictures or diagrams, to help students better understand the material.

Implementing Autism-Specific Strategies

In order to create a truly autism-friendly environment, educators should consider implementing specific strategies designed to meet the needs of students with autism. This could include providing visual schedules or breaking down tasks into smaller steps. Providing students with clear expectations and teaching them social skills can also be beneficial for helping them understand classroom rules and expectations.

Using positive reinforcement and providing students with ample opportunities to practice their skills is another way to foster an inclusive environment in the classroom.

Raising Autism Awareness in Schools

In order to create an autism-friendly environment, it is essential to raise awareness about autism spectrum disorders among educators and school staff. Raising autism awareness can help ensure that everyone involved in the educational process is informed about the unique challenges faced by students with autism and how best to support them.

Educators should be trained on understanding the needs of students with autism and how to create an inclusive environment in the classroom. Additionally, providing information about available resources can help schools better understand which services are available for students with autism and how to best access them.


By taking steps towards creating a sensory-friendly classroom, implementing strategies to address unique needs, and raising awareness about autism spectrum disorders, educators can foster a more inclusive learning atmosphere for students with autism.

Photo credit: Unsplash.