Okay, so you have won the rewarding position of a special needs teacher! Congrats! Now, the panic starts to set in and you’re thinking – what do I do with these students for 6 hours a day!
Unlike a mainstream classroom my day isn’t broken into hourly blocks of Science, Geography, Health and Maths. The key is curriculum integration into real life contexts and independent living skills.
So here’s a list of the activities I run in my classroom.
- Arrival / Departure routine
- Individual workstations – based on TEACCH program
- Circle time – integration of literacy and numeracy (also known as morning meeting)
- Intensive interaction – usually spontaneous, and done during other activities
- Snack (morning and afternoon)
- Dinner / Lunch
- Walks (scenic walks around grounds, or delivering messages)
- Toileting / hygiene / general care
- Sensory stories / adapted stories
- IWB, computer, IPad time
- Soft play
- Snoezelen / Multi-Sensory Environments
- Music session
- Sensory Massage – Occupational Therapy
- Guided / Structured play – AISTEAR
- Sensory exploration – messy play
- Socio dramatic play – pretend play
- Creative construction
- Games with rules
- Outdoor play
Below is my timetable, which clearly won’t suit everyone’s classroom, but may provide you with a little clarity. My students have ASD and Moderate – Severe general learning difficulties, therefore, transitions took time, and were scheduled for. Each day’s routine was very similar, consistent routines were key to my student’s managing transitions. Not all activities listed above are scheduled for every week (cooking / gardening), they are scheduled into the day when appropriate.
My school was fortunate enough to have fantastic resources like the Snoezelen, soft play, and multi-sensory rooms.
Snoezelen – Multi-Sensory Environment:
Is an environment that provides a range of sensory stimulation. The resources required are usually very specific to the ‘Snoezelen company’.
- Disco ball
- Light machines mounted on the walls
- Bubble tube
- A range of comfortable surfaces, seats and materials.
This room provides a great opportunity for quiet relaxation time without social interaction (which can be an overwhelming or difficult activity for many students with ASD), or sensory massages.
Soft Play room:
Common features are – bouncy castle, trampoline, swing, ball pits, slides, gym balls, padded floors, steps and ladders, climbing frame.
This room can be a great place for intensive interaction, games and turn taking – ring-around the rosie, hide and seek, follow the leader.