Autism's Daily Challenges At Home And School

All of our students bring with them their daily struggles from outside of the classroom. For our student with exceptionalities there are numerous other issues that they and their families bear on a daily basis which we take for granted. I found it fascinating that some of the simplest things for students with Autism can be extremely challenging for them and their families on a daily life that can impact them (and those of us with them) in the classroom.

According to the Autism center, some of these daily challenges include but are not limited to; hair cutting, toenail, and fingernail clipping and cleaning, bathing, clothing, decorating your home (think classroom), childproofing (beyond what we usually consider age-appropriate), and other safety precautions.

While the article is targeted at families, it is imperative that we know as much as we can about making our classrooms safe spaces for all students, and that might mean more for some.

Tips that translate from the article to our classrooms (I adapted some slightly):
• Use unscented products-we all have soaps, cleaners and lotions in our rooms- consider ones without a sent, many students are sensitive to these products
• Sensitivity to sounds- consider using old fashioned pencil sharpeners or mechanical pencils in your room- the buzzing of electronic sharpeners can be upsetting
• Many students are sensory sensitive- be selective in clothing (think lab aprons, gym attire). There are catalogs that carry clothing for children with disabilities. Remove tags from the inside of clothing or purchase tag-less clothes as much as possible
• Some children seem to be compulsive about moving furniture- weight their desk or choose heavy furnishings
• Inform local police and school security that some behaviors may appear aggressive or drunken, but in fact the student is neither. Suggest to parents that their student wear a medical bracelet or necklace with their phone number, emergency medical contact number, and labels such as, “nonverbal, speech-impaired, multiple medications, PDD, ASD, etc”

The full article, “Tips for Daily Family Life” can be obtained at

The article was excerpted from Chapter 10 of Autistic Spectrum Disorders: Understanding the Diagnosis and Getting Help by Mitzi Walts, copyright 2002 by O’Reilly & Associates, Inc.

Posted by Liz McOuat