This post originally appeared on the blog Totally Autism.

For those who do not already know, I teach a self-contained autism class for grades 1st-3rd. Some of my students are mostly nonverbal and can pretty much do the grade-level curriculum with some differentiation and modifications. These are the students who can read, but have difficulty showing what they know. They NEED visual answer choices and visuals all around in order to access the grade level curriculum. I knew these students could be successful in a general education classroom for short periods of time. They need a paraprofessional to help them, but that is okay.

How do I get started?

First, I talked with my gen ed teacher buddy (everyone should have one of these) and asked: What is one academic-based routine that your students do EVERY day?” He described to me that each student has a “book basket” with a collection of books on their reading level. At one of the ELA stations, they read from their book basket and do a reader’s response activity. This is where I got the idea to make a differentiated reader’s response journal for students who are mostly nonverbal and need visual support. I love that this journal is repetitive, predictable, and uses visuals. No writing is required if your student cannot write!

We use the same “reading basket” or “book bins” as all the other students in the general education class. So, my students are spending 20-30 minutes of inclusion time with their peers, working on reading skills, and blending in with the rest of the class. This system makes it so easy for a paraprofessional to go with students into inclusion! You can grab this FREEBIE HERE!

Here is a look at one of the pages.

What are the next steps?

Ask a general ed teacher that you would like to work with the following question: What is something you do with your students every day, that doesn’t change much? Our students with autism need something that is consistent and YOU need something that doesn’t take a lot of planning and collaboration on a daily basis.

If this doesn’t work for your students, when are some other good times for inclusion (other than lunch, recess, and specials)?

  • I-play time (kindergarten usually does this)
  • class meetings – usually students are engaged in team building activities
  • science/social studies – it’s usually easy for students to keep up with non-core content
  • teacher read-alouds (carpet time) – students can practice sitting nicely on the carpet

Kristina Fassett of Totally Autism is a self-contained autism teacher with a passion for increasing inclusion in schools and creating differentiated materials for students with autism. She has her bachelor’s and master’s in Elementary/Special Education and is currently pursuing her BCBA certification from Arizona State University.  You can connect with Kristina by visiting her on TpT, Pinterest, or Instagram.