How to Plan Field Trips for Students with Autism


Field trips are a part of most schools.  They're a great way for carry over in to the general setting of skills and concepts learned in the classroom.  Here are some tips for taking our students with autism out on field trips.

Ah, field trips.  They can feel like a blessing or a curse to any teacher, self-contained or not.  There are many, many mixed emotions that can occur when it comes to field trips.
I personally feel one of two ways about field trips: generally, I’m really excited about them.  You have a chance to do something beyond the typical routine, and your kids get opportunities to be out in the community.  If you’re like me and my colleagues, you may even have an opportunity to practice skills in real-life situations.   The contrasting feelings I experience usually occur during or after the field trip: exhaustion, anxiety… but it doesn’t last long and I’m typically excited to take my kids on a field trip once again. 
However, there are must-do’s BEFORE the trip in order to make sure I avoid those not-so-great feelings.  The more I prepare for a field trip, the better off my students and myself are.

Go over the rules

Being out of the classroom means we need different rules to follow.  It’s way easier to wrangled 6 kids in a 20x20 classroom, but a little harder in a public area where there so much stimuli to pull them in so many different directions.  Take a few minutes before the trip to go over the important rules.  Have them help you think up rules for more buy-in.

Field trips are a part of most schools.  They're a great way for carry over in to the general setting of skills and concepts learned in the classroom.  Here are some tips for taking our students with autism out on field trips.

Prepare your students

Sometimes field trips tie in perfectly to a unit you’re in the middle of (sometimes it doesn’t, let’s be honest).  Either way, make sure to prepare your students.  For community trips, I really like make social stories based on the skills we will need on the trip and what behaviors are expected.  This is especially important if this is a place/experience your students have never experienced before.

Field trips are a part of most schools.  They're a great way for carry over in to the general setting of skills and concepts learned in the classroom.  Here are some tips for taking our students with autism out on field trips.


Give them an assignment

Lack of direction is a no-no for most of our guys.  Having an aim, such as finding certain animals at the zoo or looking for landmarks.  Hopefully your students will be so occupied completing the task that they will not be motivated to act out.

Keep the reinforcement going

It’s in your best interest to keep whatever reinforcement systems you have in the classroom going during field trips (trust me!).  Since you are practicing new skills, it’s even more imperative to be reinforcing them.  Whether it’s token board, points sheets, or anything in between- keep consistent!


Name tags

This might be an obvious one, but it’s the most important.  Make sure your kiddos have name tags.  For my middle school students, I love making name tags that look identical to actual ID tags and putting them on a lanyard for easy access.  This might vary for the age/abilities of your students.  Younger kids may bode well with a larger name tag.  Older, lower support guys may do great with having an ID that you have them keep in their wallet or on a lanyard.  I like using this website to make photo ID cards.  You can find the website I like to use here.

What are your must-do's before a field trip?  How do you generally feel about field trips?




Field trips are a part of most schools. They're a great way for carry over in to the general setting of skills and concepts learned in the classroom. Here are some tips for taking our students with autism out on field trips.

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