Special education provision we expect

Autistic spectrum condition (ASC) support guidance

The SEN Support provision we expect all schools and settings to offer for children and young people with ASC.

Suggested whole-school approaches:

  • Have a supportive ethos and environment which promotes respect and values diversity
  • Curriculum teaching and learning to promote resilience and support social and emotional learning
  • Use the Autism Education Trust (AET) School Autism Standards (5-19) to evaluate current practice
  • Include areas identified from the Autism Standards in the setting improvement plan
  • Support parents/carers by signposting resources and sources of information and support (e.g. Autism Anglia, ASD Helping Hands)
  • Provide training for all staff to promote understanding and confidence around autism
  • Use consistent visuals around the setting to reinforce key routines and expectations
  • Ensure effective transitions are planned at every stage (particularly at phase transfer)

Suggested SEND support strategies in the classroom:

  • Teach pupil-specific behavioural skills (e.g. how to ask for help)
  • Use the Autism Education Trust (AET) Competency Framework as a self-reflection tool to identify which aspects of your autism practice require further development
  • Have clear, explicit and consistent routines in place in the classroom
  • If the child or young person (CYP) becomes anxious, allow them to go to an agreed quiet / calm area
  • Incorporate time for sensory circuits; this may be appropriate for the whole class not just individual CYP with Autism
  • Be aware that CYP’s facial expressions and language may not reflect their actions or feelings
  • Use alternative means of communication/augmentative communication strategies where appropriate
  • Be aware of the constraints of testing when ascertaining a CYP’s cognitive ability, attainment and progress and be flexible in approach to meet the needs of individuals
  • Explicitly teach social skills (e.g. what to say/do when praised, how to ask for help)
  • Use Social Stories or Comic Strip Conversations to explain social rules and expected behaviour
  • Encourage social interaction by supporting organisation of structured lunchtime clubs, focusing on shared interests or by using a buddy system
  • Ensure there is good communication with parents and the CYP, particularly around homework, special events and planning trips (e.g. home-school book)
  • Engage with resources for early intervention, such as Portage, to ensure positive transitions into early years settings
  • Support oral explanations with charts, diagrams, pictures, real objects or actions
  • Allow CYP to work alone rather than in a group where possible. If in a group, give clear roles within the group and put the rules and roles into writing
  • Seat CYP in an area of the classroom with a workstation free from busy displays and distractions
  • Provide a structure for unstructured times where appropriate (e.g. chess club rather than breaktime outside)
  • Be aware of any sensory sensitivities (smell, clothing, noise, touch) and consider reasonable adjustments that can be made in response e.g. use of ear defenders
  •  Use visual prompts on cards or photos, or consistent non-verbal signs (sit, look, listen, hand up, wait, quiet) to show CYP the social behaviours expected
  •  Use technology, writing frames (e.g. mind maps, flow charts, photocopied notes) to minimise the need for written recording
  •  Use a ‘stress scale’ to turn emotions into more concrete concepts (e.g. The Incredible 5 point scale or Zones of Regulation)
  • Create a ‘one-page profile’ involving parent/carers and the CYP in identifying how best to support
  • Make reasonable adjustments to the learning environment (e.g. consistent seating, individual workstation, visual timetable, timings of breaks and transition arrangements within the day, use of timers)
  • Set tasks with clear goals and break them down into step-by-step form. Ask direct, concrete questions at their level of understanding
  • Use a visual timetable or ‘now/next’ board to help order and manage tasks
  • Provide extra time to think and respond to questions (e.g. ‘10 second rule’)
  • Use symbols to support spoken language and text(e.g. www.widgit.com)
  • Don’t ask the CYP to talk or write about imagined experiences and avoid tasks which depend on empathy
  • Be aware that CYP may have difficulty understanding gestures, facial expressions, tone of voice and jokes
  • Avoid or explain the use of irony, sarcasm, figurative language, rhetorical questions, idioms (e.g. ‘pull your socks up’, ‘it’s raining cats and dogs’, ‘in a minute’)

Suggestions for the SENDCo:

Download PEaSS condensed version