How your child with autistic spectrum condition is supported in school
Children and young people with autistic spectrum condition have different types and degrees of need that require different levels of support. If your child has an autistic spectrum condition, they may have problems with some or all of the following:
- Communicating with teachers, support staff or other pupils
- Language development, initiating and sustaining conversations
- Use and understanding of non-verbal communication such as eye gaze, facial expression and gesture
- Following instructions
- Following classroom rules
- Sharing enjoyment, interests and activities with other children
- Social and emotional responsiveness
- Concentrating on a task
- Processing sensory input (touch, taste, smell, vision, hearing, balance, and body awareness, e.g. sensitive hearing to loud noise)
- Forming and sustaining friendships
The type and level of support put in place will depend on your child’s individual needs. Schools will use the graduated approach, a system to identify and meet the needs of all children and young people, including those with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND).
Most children and young people with autistic spectrum condition will make good progress and achieve well when the right support is in place.
Quality First Teaching
Quality First Teaching is high quality teaching which provides appropriate learning opportunities to all pupils, whatever their individual needs. It is the first step of a graduated (or stepped) approach in responding to pupils who have, or may have, SEND. Staff knowledge and understanding of SEND is a key factor to good Quality First Teaching outcomes.
All staff must have knowledge and understanding of the SEND Code of Practice 2014 and the Equalities Act 2010.
Examples of what might be expected at this level of support:
- Consistent routines and secure boundaries for your child so that they understand what is expected of them
- Use of visual timetables and supports to prepare your child for changes or to explain information
- Opportunities for your child to experience success and be given praise
- Calling your child’s name, or using an agreed signal to gain their attention
- Adjustments to grouping and seating arrangements to allow your child to participate
- Use of simple language, not complicated words
- Use of visual clues or symbols along with the words to make instructions easier to follow
- Giving time to process information after an instruction has been given
Include demonstrations, activities and pictures in lessons as most people with autism learn best by seeing
- Watching carefully for signs of sensory sensitivity and taking steps to minimise e.g. use of ear defenders, seating away from fluorescent lights
Helping your child to work independently
- Encouraging areas of talent - many children with autism are good at maths, drawing, art or ICT.
SEND Support Plans
Some children will need support that is ‘additional to’ or ‘different from’ what schools provide for all pupils. This is called SEND Support.
The special educational needs coordinator (SENCo) and the teacher will work with you and your child to create a SEND Support Plan which should be reviewed three times a year. This will be based around your child’s strengths and needs and will identify outcomes for your child that will be agreed with you.
It will be important to identify the main characteristic of your child’s main area of need. However, support plans will identify all the needs of your child within the following four broad areas:
- Cognition and learning
- Social, emotional and mental health
- Communication and interaction
- Sensory and physical
Targeted SEND support might include:
- Targeted support to develop language, communication and social interaction skills
- A quiet, distraction-free learning area if your child is anxious or overloaded with sensory stimuli
- Targeted use of evidence-based programmes and strategies such as ‘Attention Autism’
- Incorporating any intense interest of your child into lessons / lesson planning
- Spending time helping your child to develop social skills and to understand other people’s feelings e.g. using social stories
- Space and physical activity to burn energy and help concentration
- Creating opportunities for your child to learn to play in the playground e.g. peer mentors, buddy systems
- Flexible and personalised support for behaviour; what works for one child with autism in a particular situation may not work with another, or even with the same child in a different situation.