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Top Twelve Tools of a Successful Autism Classroom #6

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To see the rest of the list so far, click here.

Number 6 of the 12 top tools is a color printer, ink and paper.  Your printer is your friend…or at least my printer is my friend.  I can’t survive without it.  In an autism classroom, there is little need for decoration, because your walls are typically covered by the different types of visual supports we use for the students.  Between picture communication systems, communication boards, visual schedules, work systems, and other visual supports, the room is typically covered with colored pictures.  Having a reliable printer makes a world of difference.  And of course, a printer is only useful if you have ink and paper; both of which are often in short supply in a school.  In a world of shrinking budgets. it’s hard to convince administrators that printer ink and paper are important for the education of students and that you need them for more than just decoration.  So here are some thoughts about printer features and useful functions of them in the classroom as well as ideas about how to fund them.

  1. A printer / scanner / copier is useful in the classroom because it allows you to copy home notes before they go home.  It allows you to scan in pictures and materials for augmentative communication systems.  And it allows you to scan in worksheets and textbooks for an interactive whiteboard if you don’t have a document camera as well as for students’ to complete them on the iPad.
  2. If you get to choose which printer to buy, or you are buying one for yourself, check out how much the ink will cost when you do your comparisons.  I really like HP Photosmart printers because they have separate ink cartridges for different colors.  I have one printer than has 1 color and 1 black cartridge.  While it’s nice to only have to buy only 2 cartridges, the color cartridge runs out if only 1 of the colors is out.
  3. Printers are also essential to printing data collection forms and graphs.  This is a good argument for the need for a good printer (although it doesn’t have to be color).  It is also a good argument for the need for more paper.  One of the issues I sometimes run into is that paper is allotted to classrooms based on the number of students.  However, in a self-contained classroom, the number of students is not representative of the need for paper since the paper is needed for visuals and data beyond what is used in a general education classroom.  
  4. If your administration is not able to buy cartridges or provide enough paper, consider doing a Donors Choose project.  Check out this great post by The Autism Classroom Project for ideas in writing the proposal.
  5. Another thought for funding a printer and supplies is to put it on a wish list for parents.  Consider asking parents to provide gift certificates or supplies instead of gifts to the teacher.  Also, I once had a parent who asked friends of their child’s parents to provide supplies to her child’s classroom in lieu of birthday gifts.

So, what is your favorite kind of printer?  Any tips out there for folks looking for a new one?

Setting Up Classroom Spaces That Support Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders ForeWord Book of the Year Finalist (2011)

For more ideas in setting up classrooms, check out our book.

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