by Anthony KaDarrell Thigpen
AUTISM ACADEMY – Many teachers have a creative touch at transforming open spaces into unique learning environments.
Just how significant are decorations at school? Teachers at the Autism Academy for Education and Development (AAED) understand the importance of accommodating students with autism with classroom décor.
While there is no known cure for autism, with the right classroom accommodations, it is possible to overcome barriers to learning. AAED teachers consider three necessary components when decorating their classrooms to capture the special needs of students with autism. For starters, each classroom provides students with a visual daily outline.
This is because many students with autism have difficulties with transitions. Students with autism function on a spectrum that requires a variety of alternative media styles. As a result, many teachers create learning stations with flash cards, board games, iPads, computer games and craft projects. Decorations are usually defined by the type of curriculum used.
Learning stations equipped with sensory tools often include stress balls, pencil toppers, tangle puzzles, clay, wiggle cushions, weighted lap pads, chair bands and foot rollers. Also, a quiet corner, extra breaks and a flexible classroom environment provides a host of opportunities for AAED teachers to further customize their classrooms.
There is a science to decorating classrooms when accommodating children with autism. Too many decorations can be over-stimulating.
Teachers must ask themselves, “How can my decorations enhance student learning?”
Effective educators navigate the process to provide support for all students, helping children with autism to tackle schoolwork with confidence. A recent walk–through of Autism Academy for Education and Development campuses revealed a high standard of classroom creativity and organization. AAED teachers add a spice of seasonal themes, art and holiday displays, NBA and NFL décor and so much more.
Classroom decorations can enhance the overall learning experience.
“We spend the majority of our day here”, said Chandler campus teacher Mary Horeish. “If it doesn’t feel like home our students wouldn’t want to be here.”
Decorations allow students to experience the comfort of home, information absorption and a sense of community. Decorations work – especially when they are strategically placed and academically stimulating.