REMINDER, REMINDER...Our 9 Teacher Tested Strategies to Prepare Your Autism Classroom FREE guide is now available !!!

The Autism Class app assists parents and educators with on-the-go ideas for supporting individuals with autism. With pre-recorded podcasts, videos, ideas for lessons, places for discussion and photo examples, there is always something new to discover. Take a look!


KEY FEATURES of this app:

- Strategies for educators and parents at your fingertips.

-Videos about Communication, Social Skills, Play Skills, How To Set Up a Work Area at Home and Making Place to Place Transitions Smoother.

-Podcasts featuring various topics related to teaching students with autism.

-Picture examples of supports and strategies.

-Behavior support questions to help you sort through ideas about challenging behaviors. (NOTE: We cannot and do not recommend treatments for behavior. Just questions to ask yourself and your team/family.)

-5 lesson ideas to jump-start a lesson for each of the following areas:


fine motor,


joint attention,



independent skills,

pre-vocational skills,

social skills,

sensory involvement,

basic concepts,


gross motor,

and seasonal activities

- In-app purchases for non-interactive e-books for kids about colors, same/different, big/little, motor imitation and more. (Pages are not interactive. They are designed to be worked on together as the child points to the answer, but the adult advances the screen.) E-books may provide a supplement to instruction for some students working on the skills in each e-book.

-Tips for turning the various areas of home into learning spaces.

Whether you are a teacher, para-educator, administrator, clinician or family member of a student with special needs - this "AutismClass" app is for you, for free.

See the app here on the app store.

A few things to keep in mind while teaching play skills or trying to improve interaction skills:

  • Free time is a difficult concept for some children with autism. 

  • Remember you will have to teach play skills.  They do not come naturally for many children with autism.

  • Teach the play skills 1:1 first, then incorporate them into a group setting (Moyes, 1997).

  • Use age appropriate games and toys to the extent possible.  If a seven year old without autism likes the game, chances are, your seven year old will have some interest in it too.  You may just have to modify the presentation a little.

  • Find a way to make the game or activity “do-able” for him or her.

  • Have fun.  Your child should want to come to this play area.  If you are not having fun, they are probably not having fun.

  • Try something new like, roller skating (start on a rug or carpet first), tennis, baseball, t-ball, soccer or bowling.

  • Follow your child’s lead and comment on what he or she is interested in. Try not to get too consumed in your own idea of what play should look like.  Focus on the act of attending to the same item at the same time, sharing the same space and being on the “same page”, more than having him or her “play” with the toy in the exact manner for which it was made.

  • If you are going to play, then play.  Try not to drill your child on colors and shapes and numbers, etc. during the play time.  It is okay to comment on these concepts, but keep the play fun and engaging and the opposite of work time. 

  • Find a method to teach the skills they need.  You are the facilitator.  During the beginning stages, try not to leave him/her to “play on his/her own.”



Play is challenging to teach since it comes natural to most children. The idea of having to break down the play skills is unique. Teaching interaction skills is not usually something that teachers learn when preparing for the teaching profession.  However, there is a large need for professionals to have this skill and/or be able to help parents to foster this skill as well (by providing tips, ideas and support.)

Educators and parents can h
elp students develop play skills in a number of ways:

  • Use toys that have a clear cause and effect component
  • Teach the rules to games
  • Practice turn-taking
  • Model making comments in play
  • Directly teach game skills, playground skills, and outside skills 


              See more about these Play Skills Printables here.
To see the video about play skills click here.

Learning self-help skills and daily living skills are important tools for becoming more independent.  Teaching self-help skills and daily living skills is essential. Making things “visual” can be its own “self-help” for some children.  Visual supports for daily living skills and self-help skills of several types are needed to help children with autism understand the world around them.  Visual supports include any visual item that helps a child to understand or express language.  

Augmentative Communication Methods used for Mealtimes are another type of visual support that can assist with self-help skills.  To accomplish this, try having either food logos, the food wrapper, the actual food items or drink items, photos or picture icons, of the food, that the child can choose from.  Have them point to, give you, or tell you, the food or drink item before consuming it (even if they can get the item themselves.) At first, you may find that he or she may protest (heavily).  However, if you are consistent during mealtimes, your child will learn to use symbolic forms of communication more often, whether it be handing a picture icon, using sign language or using words. Velcro ™ to make the pictures detachable, if you need to. 

Self- Help Skills Article #1

Self-Help Skills Article #2

Self-Help Skills Article #3

Product link to Personal Skills Printables from Autism Classroom

Personal Life Skills Printables for Students with Autism & Similar Special Needs  

Personal Shopper - Self-Help Skills Related Books from our Affiliate are below:                                     


When considering chores, it is best to start with planning so that things can run as smooth as possible.

1. Organize the Environment.

2. Identify the benefits for your family of teaching chores to your child.

3. Look for age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate chores. 

4. Choose a strategy to teach the skill.

Task Analysis Learning Module -- Used to teach behaviors that occur together in a sequence. This method breaks down each step into small manageable parts.

Backward Chaining--  A technique which uses prompting and fading to teach the last behavior of the chain first.

Backward Chaining Video

Forward Chaining Video-- A technique in which you teach the first component then the second component, etc. 






Setting up a work-space in your home for homework or 1:1 work can be done. Here are a few ideas to help make it happen.

Compile a Variety of Materials

·         zipper baggies

·         permanent markers

·         Velcro ™

·         heavy card stock paper

·         binders or 2-pocket folders

·         clear duct tape

·         clear packing tape (to use as a quick laminator) or self-stick laminating sheets

·         paper

·         index cards

·         several clear containers with lids

·         appropriate sized chair and table

·         a filing cabinet or bookshelf or large container

Utilize Schedules

There are many types of schedules that can be used with children with autism.  Parents and family members will want to understand the usefulness of schedules and how they can help to make the process of completing work tasks easier for an individual with autism.  In fact, schedules help the process of completing work tasks for all of us, as many of us use checklists, scheduled lunch breaks at work, to do lists, scheduled days off, etc.  Schedules help make routines more predictable and manageable for most individuals with autism.

Develop a Method for Tracking Progress

Data sheets are needed to record progress.  There are various types of data sheets which can be used for any given skill you are working on.  It will be important to locate the type of data sheet that tracks the skill you are working on. The type of information you are looking for should help determine the correct progress tracking sheet. Below are so standard types of data.

Types of Data

·         Frequency- number of times a behavior occurs

·         Duration- amount of time a behavior occurs

·         Latency- amount of time between the start of the opportunity and the behavior

·         Percent- number of occurrences out of the number of opportunities

·         Intensity- physical force or magnitude of response

·         Time Sample- observation period divided into intervals

·         Permanent Product- count of the behavior by observing the product

·         Interval Recording- recording behavior in intervals

Create Self-Monitored Work Systems

The idea behind the self-monitored tasks is that during these tasks, the child will work on structured tasks or structured chores by themselves (eventually) from start to finish.  At first they may need much guidance from you, but try to provide guidance without words.  If you want them to do these tasks on their own, using words could cause them to become dependent on your words to complete the task.  Typically, the tasks should be set up to be completed in a left to right or top to bottom sequence (  After completing work tasks, the child will need a place to store their finished work.   Our page on Work Systems has some more ideas, however, here are a few typical types of basic skills the child may be working on, but not limited to:

-putting counting bears into a container

-using a pincer grasp to take clothespins off of a container

-matching pairs of socks

-placing the picture with the beginning letter

-folding clothes

-sorting recycling

-placing clothes pins on stickers on an index card

Teach Adult Directed Skills or Tasks

These will be those tasks in which you are teaching your child a new skill.  These tasks will be identified by you  based on your child’s needs.  First take a look at where your child is currently functioning.  Use assessment data from the school setting or take your own inventory of your child’s skills.  Simply write a list of 10-12 specific skills that your child has.  Then, write another list of 10-12 specific skills you would like for your child to learn.  Next, take a look at a developmental milestones chart to see what is appropriate for (1) your child’s age and (2) your child’s developmental level.

Create Your Own Teaching Plan

The teaching plan should include the following elements:

·         The Skill to be Learned

·         Materials Needed

·         Plan to Make the Materials

·         Ideas for Data Collection

·         Teaching Technique to be Used

·         Motivator/Preferred Item/Reinforcer

Organize Your Materials

·         Zipper-type baggies

·         Label each baggie

·         Use a box of selected reinforcers that your child is only allowed access to during work times

·         Limit distractions in work areas

Teach Basic Skills by Starting Small, then Building Up

Present 1 or 2 items at a time.  For example, if you are teaching colors or numbers, don’t teach eight colors at once.  Start with one or two until your child masters the objectives/goals, then move on to another color, then another, etc. Clear the table off, except for what you are trying to get your child to focus on. When you first start, make the correct answer stand out (Ex. If teaching the shape “circle,” try using a large circle and a small square.  Gradually, switch to shapes that are the same size.) When starting to teach concepts or attributes, be sure to keep all elements of the materials the same except for the attribute you are working on (Ex. If you are teaching colors, have items which are exactly the same except for the color.  If you are teaching shapes, have shapes which are exactly the same color, but differ only in shape.) Teach more difficult vocabulary identification tasks, by first having your child match the picture, number or word to the exact same picture number or word. Next, you provide the vocabulary for what they are matching as you give them the picture (Ex. “match dog,”  “match book,” “match number 2”).  Gradually, begin to ask them to give you the picture, number or word (Ex. “give dog,” “give book,” “give number 2.”) please note that without a highly motivating item, you may have a difficult time getting your child to do the task.

Directly Teach Play Skills

·         Play is not work! Try not to “test” your child while playing.

·         Remember you will have to teach play skills.  They do not come naturally for many children with autism.

·         Teach the play skills 1:1 first, then incorporate them into a group setting (Moyes, 1997).

·         Use age appropriate games and toys to the extent possible.

·         Find a way to make the game or activity “do-able” for him or her.

·         Emphasize “my turn” and “your turn.”

·         Over exaggerate movements, sounds and facial expressions.

·         Have fun.  Your child should want to come to this play area.  If you are not having fun, they are probably not having fun.

Teach Self-Help Skills Routinely and Methodically

These ideas for teaching toileting skills are from Autism’s book How to Set U p a Work Area at Home for a Child with Autism.

1. Have a plan and work on one step at a time. 2. Use visual supports (check the website for ideas for toilet training.) 3. Use backward chaining (physical guidance, then reinforce the last step.) 4. Use video modeling (Ex. Model from the child’s point of view.  There are ways to be creative without actually showing the act of someone using the bathroom.  For example, there are people who use squirt bottles and chocolate candy bars to imitate the actual act of using the bathroom.) 5. Remember there are a few important steps for the toileting process:

·         Sits on toilet

·         Stays dry for an extended period of time

·         Urinates in toilet

·         Wipes self

·         Time toilet trained

·         Requests use of the bathroom

·         Independent

Find Ways to Get Your Child to Respond to Requests Consistently

If you have a specific behavior plan, then follow that.  Otherwise, try this technique for most, not all daily instructions: Use only a few words to make a request. Give your child your request only 2 times, then, on the third request follow through with assistance in completing the task.

Make Transitions Easier

One thing that could be done to make transitions easier  is to have something your child really likes at the place where they have to transition to each time. Also, letting your child carry something or “help” you to the next activity may help. Additionally, it may help to let your child hold something when they are sitting at the activity.

(Source: How to Set Up a Work Area at Home for a Child with Autism: A Manual for Parents, Family Members and In-Home Support Providers by