Many people are in search of some ways to increase and encourage social interaction with their students with autism. Some educators turn to social skills videos, social skills emotions lessons, or work to teach social skills with autism specific curriculum.  Many of these strategies to teach social skills could work and here are a few more you might want to try if you are looking for social skills activities for students with autism.


Focus on self-management to help students recognize their own behaviors.  Use visual supports to show them the expected behaviors and to ask them to point or check off whether or not they have lived up to the expected behaviors. 


Teach students to identify emotions in themselves and in others.  Pictures cards and photos of emotions as well as teaching labels to emotions can support this task.


Promote self-awareness so that students understand how they interact with the world around them. Help students to pay attention to their classmates, teachers and therapists.  Teach them to use a choice board to express their wants and needs so that they can see that they have an impact on their world.


Encourage communication through pictures, gestures, writing or words.  Use the student's skill set to help with this.  If they can write, encourage them to write out what they are feeling. If they uses pictures to communicate, be sure to have a variety of pictures that they can choose from to express what they may like to say. 



Give students multiple times to practice a new skill. Think "riding a bike"... it takes multiple times to practice with support before you are ready to try it out on your own. This is true as well for social skills, so give students many opportunities to practice by making teaching social skills in the classroom a routine part of the day. Supports like Social Skills Printables, social skills videos and role playing scripts for social skills could be helpful in adding practice on this skill. 


Try these strategies to help your students be the best that they can be!


The first part of this blog post focused on the idea of what might make up a classroom program for students with autism. This post will examine what it could look like to put together the lesson management for something like this.

To organize the lessons, think about using a binder with tabs to divide the topics for students.

Consider making tabs and dividers for social skills, play skills, language skills, fine motor skills, phonics, behavior, individual IEP skills, or whatever centers you want to run. I would suggest starting with social skills, language skills and IEP goals. Here is a link to the free binder cover page shown in the this binder. 


Plan quick activities and lessons. You can take a look at these Social Skills activities for an example and the Social Skills Centers Targets for an example of activities that are planned for the year. Or, choose the deficit areas your students need to work on the most. 


These next images show the first week activity suggestions from the Social Skills Bundle. Students and teachers can dive into the classroom rules and expectations.



For teachers of older students, you might like to add executive functioning skills as a center.

Next, make data sheets or general tracking sheets to go with these tabs/dividers as well. IEP goals and objectives may need a more formal and detailed data sheet since you are tracking progress on specific goals. While the classroom program centers may need a more generalize type of checklist that can be used with all students in the centers.

If a binder is not feasible, use a folder for each student. Options for folders:

·        Color-code the folders by topic. For example, the purple folder is for social skills, the orange folder is for play skills, the yellow folder is for language skills.

·        Have a folder for each student with the assignments for the week.

·        Have the entire packet on the right of the folder (using a butterfly clip), and put the assignments for the week on the left.

·        Have assignments in a packet separated by a divider that says Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, etc. (Here is a free electronic download of dividers Week 1- Week 34.)


If using the folder route, it may help to use a 3-prong folder with pockets. Which would mean you will want to use paper that is already 3-hole punched or invest in a really good 3-hole punch device.

 For distance learning, an organized binder separated by each week (ex. week 1, week 2, week 3, etc.) or separated by each activity area (social skills, play skills, language skills, etc.) is probably going to work best for families.

Complete a similar set up for each of the following weeks.






 Hi there. Here is a list of most of the free items from’s TpT Store that can be used the 
first week of school to create meaningful activities.
Use them as they are or use them as a jumping off point
and add your creativity and
style to make them fantastic!



Click here to see the chart of freebies for the first week.





Can most classrooms really say they have a program for their students with autism? We know they definitely have lessons and activities. But, to be implementing a program suggests that an organized set of plans, systems or activities specific to the deficits faced by individuals with autism have been purposeful chosen and implemented to help move students toward a particular long-term goal. And, someone else can follow and repeat the same formula to keep it running. How many can say that?

I certainly like to encourage the use of centers to help in creating a classroom program for students with autism and similar special needs. Centers and rotations (where students rotation from one center to the other in a systematic way) is key. Although for many, this year, it may be through breakout rooms during virtual learning.)

Why a program in a classroom for students with autism?  First of all, some schools there is no curriculum. AND…if there is a curriculum, it needs to be modified so much that it feels like there isn't one.

We know that students with autism have unique deficits in social skills, language and communication skills, and interpersonal behavior. Addressing these specific skills deliberately and daily will lead to improvement.

So what might that look like? Smaller time segments will work for most. Even at home or with distance learning this could work. The program can be run in 35-minute or 45-minute blocks (10 minutes-10 minutes-10 minutes or 15 minutes-15 minutes-15 minutes).  If needed, a two-minute or five-minute break can be given in between.

What centers would make up the program? Since we know that social skills, language skills and interpersonal behavior skills are the major areas most affected by autism, it may work well to start with those. Or, start with social skills, language skills, and individual objectives/goals from the student’s IEP program. Another suggestion would be to add a second set of 10-minute rotations to focus on structured play skills, fine motor skills, and phonics skills. The rest of the day, could be focused on content in subject areas.

Check out part 2 of this blog Series here.


Behavior Skills Packet!

Behavior Support is huge right now.  Some schools institute a school-wide intervention for encouraging positive behaviors.  All teachers organize a class wide behavior support system to support behavior management in the classroom.  But even with that, some students still need more individualized approaches and behavior strategies for autism. Sometimes they need direct instruction related to behavior or may need behavior IEP goals to address behaviors.  Autism Classroom has Behavior Skills Printables.  We also have I Need a Break Cards, Behavior Plan Packs and Transition supports.

The Behavior Skills Printables for Students with Autism & Similar Special Needs are available now. 

Behavior Skills Printables



They are also available in the Social Skills Bundle, with other resources here.



The Behavior Skills Printables offer easy, printable worksheets about for self-control, transitions, work behaviors in the classroom and guidance for being around others.




These behavior skills printables will work well for any students whose special needs include developmental delays or it may work for younger students in primary grades learning to be more aware of their behavior. Take a look below.







The printables can supplement any curriculum or they can be used daily as a discussion starter for developing appropriate behavior skills. This packet includes behavior skills related worksheets that require variations in response styles for many answers. (Ex. matching, cutting, circling, and pasting.)



Use in order or out of order to address any skill that is needed at the time.


The skills are broken up into 4 sections: Self-Monitoring, Transitions, Work Behaviors and Being Around Others. These pages are included:


Self Control

Self-Control Cards

In Control or Out of Control?

Self-Control 2

Self Monitoring

Self-Monitoring Checklist 1

Self-Monitoring Checklist 2

Emotional Control

Staying Seated in Class

Is This Good Behavior?

Behavior Choices (Field of 2)

Breathe In, Breathe Out

Count to Ten

These are Things That Help Me…

These are Things That Calm Me…

How I Feel

What Should She Do?

Classroom Rules

Organize This Desk


What Order is This?

A Change in the Schedule

Making A Schedule

Cards to Help with Change

Making a Reading Schedule

Make Your Own Reading Schedule

Ways to Ask for the Bathroom

Bathroom Routine


What’s the Deal with Transition?

During Math Tina Does This

Mini Schedule Template

Transition Phrases

Group Directions

Group Directions vs. Individual Directions

Waiting Area

Standing in Line

Who is Lining Up Correctly?

Hallway Behaviors

Transition Objects

Can you Carry That?


Finish the Pattern (Work First, Then Play)

I am Working For It !

Make Your Own Incentive Chart

Expected Behaviors for Work Time

Alternatives to Hitting

Behaviors for Work Time

Interfering Behaviors

Using Headphones to Cancel Noise

Request a Break

Off Task (Visual Cue)

Activity Schedule

First, Next Schedule

3 Steps to Following Directions

These are Things That I Would Work For…

Task Analysis

Avoid Task Avoidance


Stamp Out Un-Expected Behaviors (Bring in Expected Behaviors)

Non-Edible Objects

Good Behavior

I Don’t Want to Do This

Hands Off

Aggressive Behaviors

You Want to get an Item: What Can you Do?

Nodding Yes or No

What is a Tantrum?

Why is He Doing This?

Giving Up a Turn on Technology

Drinking Your Own Drink

What Can I do With My Hands?

It’s Too Loud in Here

Not all of the Time


What Helps Me Calm Down?

Behavior Words

Keeping Property Safe

Keeping Property Safe 2


Students can practice ways to answer yes and no appropriately. 


Or, think about why someone may engage in a behavior, offering a glimpse into why they might possibly engage in a behavior. There is also a chance for students to think about and express some positive ways they can try to calm themselves. 



  A full page look at the page related to ways to calm.