Tuesday, 21 December 2021

7 Problems Children With Autism Face In The Classroom

 Autism is becoming more and more widely known, and with this more children are being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) every year. In an ideal world, every autistic child would attend an autism-friendly school, but this isn’t always possible. Due to location, demand, or even cost, many children with ASD attend mainstream schools. For this reason, it is vital that teachers are aware of the challenges they face and have strategies for autism in the classroom.

Social Interaction

 It is widely known that social interactions are common challenges that people with autism face, and the ever-changing trends of school interaction are no different. Whether that’s changing teachers, differences in friend groups or new classmates, it’s important to be clear about what is appropriate in terms of social interaction in all the different environments that exist in a school: the classroom, the playground, the sports hall, the dining hall, and any others your school may have. 

You should help foster friendships among all the children in your class, as it’s very easy for even one child to get left behind and become isolated. This is even more true for children with ASD because they can’t keep up with the rapid changes in social interactions that their peers can, and having friendships will help them develop their social skills. This will also help to create a positive learning environment, which means that all children will be able to learn more effectively. 


Communication is a major challenge for autistic people, and they often find that they don’t understand facial expressions or body language. This means you need to be as clear as possible about how you feel and why. 

Explain why you are upset, or disappointed or proud and if your pupil has done something well (or has received a telling off). It’s important to ensure that they understand what caused your reaction. This will support students in their development and will help learners with autism to understand facial expressions and body language more. 

This applies to conversations between pupils as well. Ensure that they talk clearly about their feelings and why they have them. This helps them all to understand how others feel and why they feel that way. They can then learn how to approach others when they understand their feelings and relate to them more. 

Motor Skills

 Many children with autism have a difficult time with both fine and gross motor skills. Fine motor skills involve holding pencils and pens, writing, fastening clothes and other similar skills. Children with autism who struggle with these could get frustrated very easily, so giving them extra time or access to a laptop or tablet can help them access learning. 

Gross motor skills involve the whole body and include walking, running, sitting upright and other similar activities. Help them understand when they will need to do these things so they can prepare themselves. You should also let them practise slowly so they get used to the movement, and ensure that if they get frustrated, they have time to calm down before attempting again. 


Many autistic children struggle with managing their time and organising themselves. This may mean they get stressed over homework, complicated classroom tasks or projects, or even events. One strategy you can use to help them manage this kind of executive function is by giving them the instructions for tasks on a separate sheet so they can check back to it when they need to. This will help them keep the plan at the forefront of their mind so they don’t become overwhelmed. 

Another strategy you could try might involve giving them an organiser so they can plan what order they would like to do tasks in, such as homework. This gives them independence and helps you to teach them about prioritisation. 


Many children with autism do not progress in reading as quickly as their non-autistic peers. This means that you should not expect any autistic students in your classes to progress as quickly as other pupils, and instead should consider looking at ways that will help them consolidate their reading ability. 

A particular thing that autistic children struggle with is figurative language, such as similes and metaphors. Instead of focusing on these, ensure that they understand the context of the sentence - act it out with them, or show them the object that that noun means. This will help them understand the story more as they will be able to access the language in a way that suits them. 

Sensory Challenges

 Sensory overload is a common and major sensory issue for many children with autism. This can be triggered by bright lights, loud noises, or even the feel of a material. Finding out what triggers sensory overload in an autistic pupil will help you find strategies to mitigate it, so communicate with both your pupil and their parents.

Using the same strategies to deal with a sensory overload at school as they use at home will give the child a sense of routine, which makes it doubly important to communicate with family members. 

Changes in routines and expectations

Routine is very important for many people with autism, so keeping this consistent is vital for their ability to access learning. Your routine could be a classroom routine or the daily routine or even how you approach different tasks. Just as routine is important for establishing expectations, it can also be a good way to help increase the feeling of safety that all pupils, but especially autistic pupils, will feel in your classroom. 

Any changes, whether those are in routine, tasks or seating arrangements, should be told to autistic pupils so they have a warning that change is coming. Reminding them of this closer to the time will also help them prepare for it, and is a good strategy to use in the classroom when helping autistic pupils overcome challenges. 


 Teaching students with autism can be challenging, as they may be dealing with sensory overload, issues with communication or changes in routine. However, there are many problems faced by children with autism in the classroom and many teaching strategies to help them cope with these problems and access learning. 

Whether you’re encouraging them to develop their reading comprehension, motor skills or planning strategies, it’s important to remember that each child is different so you may have to tailor strategies to the needs of each child. 

Author Bio:  Rachel Gowland works at digital marketing agency, Tillison Consulting. She’s a passionate gamer and avid reader who loves to travel, using her knowledge of foreign languages to connect with people around the world. 

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