Practical tips: reviewing the environment


Choose a time of day you find challenging for the child you are working with who has autism Create an observation sheet and make notes about what the child is doing, how they respond to others in the environment, what they seem to like or dislike etc.


Reflecting on the characteristics of the child or young person, his or her unique strengths and challenges and whether there are particular times, classes or subjects/activities that he or she finds challenging.

Ask why?

  • Is it the classroom setting?
  • Is it too noisy, too cluttered or busy?
  • Is the child tired?
  • Do he or she need a movement break?

These are some things to consider. See if you can identify some of the learning challenges your child has that may make this particular time of day particularly difficult. For additional information click here.


Consider the child’s strengths and his or her needs and modify the situation in which the child you are working with is having difficulty. Knowing how the child or young person with autism learns best not only means making environmental changes but also how we can modify our teaching methods to provide them support.


The role of providing the child or young person with autism with a voice is vital, particularly in the process of discussing, monitoring and evaluation their learning. The ability to consider options and make decisions are skills that all children and young people need to acquire.   One key factor which is important to achieve this is the ability to self-reflect. This requires developing competent skills in e.g. self-reflection which may prove challenging for the individual with autism.  This can involve recognising the goals and steps involved in organisation of time or how to achieve set goals.

Self-reflection is a necessary component to focus, decision-making, prioritisation and action. For example:

  • Why should I become friends with this person?
  • What can I do to make sure I am happy at school?
  • What do I want to do when I finish school?
  • Central to these questions is the ability to self-reflect and find the answers.
  • What do you need to consider when teaching a child or young person with autism how to self-reflect?

When attempting to teach self-reflection skills to a child or young person with autism, it may be necessary, depending on his or her developmental and cognitive ability, to make modifications to support the individual with autism so there is less reliance on the spoken word.  For example, using visual supports, engaging in role plays, and drawings may be helping when empowering an individual with autism to reflect on for example, the options available to him or her for e.g. how they should react if they do not wish to take part in an activity or if they find something frustrating.

Often those with autism can develop and explain their thoughts and emotions using other methods such as emailing, keeping a diary, through their art, music or typed communication in the form of e-mail or a diary, music, art, or a pictorial dictionary of feelings).