Parent and carer support

School support for autistic children

send autism school issues

Some parents of autistic children experience difficulties when dealing with schools in terms of getting the right support for their child. Here are the local and national support services that can help you.

Local education help

KIDS
KIDS Independent Supporters are trained to help families and young people through the new Education, Health and Care Plan assessment, planning and development process. Our approach is to provide support which is flexible to meet your family’s individual needs this includes offering advice on the telephone, face to face meetings, including home visits, and joining you in attending meetings in schools or with other professionals.
Telephone: 0117 9476111
Email: IS.southwest@kids.org.uk
Click to visit website

Supportive Parents
An independent organisation offering a free confidential and impartial service to any parent who has a concern about their child’s education. Their service offers:

  • Information & Support Line on 01179 897725 open 10am – 2pm, Monday, Wednesday and Friday during term time only (answerphone at all other times)
  • Help with paperwork and preparation for meetings
  • Monthly support group meetings and termly newsletter
  • Free parent courses designed to give an overview of relevant Education policies and specific information relating to SEN provision
  • Courses aimed at SENCOs, school governors and trainee Educational Psychologists

Telephone: 01179 897725
Email: mail@supportiveparents.org.uk
Click to visit website

The Bristol Autism Team (formerly ASDOT)
Bristol Autism Team supports children and young people with Autism in Bristol mainstream schools from reception until the end of secondary school. There is no referral process as all children and young people with Autism are discussed at Autism Tracking meetings.
From these meetings, further support is offered based on need, not diagnosis. The team offers advice and support for teachers and parents to create an environment conducive to learning and wellbeing. The team also have an overview of parent courses and workshops.
Telephone: 01179 031352

Katie Steeds
“With my experience and specialist skills using TEACCH, Pecs, visual systems, social stories and intensive interaction. I can provide strategies and interventions designed around your child, which all the family can follow. With your involvement I will develop a bespoke individual plan designed around your child’s communication, social, play and sensory needs.”
Telephone: 07979 494588
Email: katie@katiesteeds.co.uk
Visit Katie’s website

Wessex Mediation
Wessex Mediation offers a free disagreement resolution service for parents who are not able to reach agreement with their local authority about their child’s special education needs.
Telephone: 0845 0529487
Email: info@wessexmediation.co.uk
Click to see their flyer

Portage and Inclusion Team
The Early Years Portage and Inclusion Team provide support to families and early years practitioners for children from birth to five years, who are disabled and/or have special educational needs. Portage is not available to children who have a nursery place, as it is felt the two offer similar learning support.
Telephone: 01173 773235
Click to visit website

Irwin Mitchell Solicitors
‘Our team of highly experienced education law solicitors is ready to help you address all aspects of your case. Much of our work is for clients who are denied access to education or their access to education is restricted.’ The webpage below has useful information as well as template letters you can use for various situations.
Telephone: 0808 274 3932
Click to visit website

Watkins Solicitors
A Bristol-based firm with expertise in dealing with SEND issues, particularly appeals and tribunals.
Telephone: 0117 939 0350
Click to visit website

Education Other Than at School (EOTAS)
EOTAS is for children in South Glos who are vulnerable to exclusion or are undergoing a formal assessment of Special Educational Needs and are without a school place.
Read more about EOTAS in South Gloucester

Hospital Education
Hospital Education is the Bristol equivalent to EOTAS and is designed to support young people who are unable to access mainstream education because of medical needs.
Read more about Hospital Education

Findability Bristol – The Bristol Toolkit – SEND in Education
Bristol’s Local Offer website has a toolkit for school-age autistic children in the city. There is a separate document for parents.
Read more about the Bristol Toolkit

National education help

Cerebra Problem Solving Toolkit
This is the best thing we have ever seen in terms of helping parents help themselves with autism education issues. This toolkit aims to support disabled people and carers, as well as their families and advisers, who are encountering difficulties with the statutory agencies in relation to the provision of health, social care and education support services. The toolkit aims to unpick these problems and to develop effective strategies for resolving them.
Visit this page to download the Problem Solving Toolkit

SENTAS (Special Education Needs Transport Advocacy Service)
SENTAS provide an invaluable service to parents and carers who have locked horns with their Local Authority over who will pay for their child’s transport to school. “We can help take away the stress and hassle of appealing Local Authorities decisions to get your child the service they are entitled to.”
Visit the SENTAS website

Contact a Family SEND Service
General education advice, EHCP support, transport issues, personal budgets, etc.
Website: http://www.cafamily.org.uk/advice-and-support/education-health-and-social-care/education/
Telephone: Sarah King on 07920 654866
Advice helpline: 0808 808 3555
Email: sarah.king@cafamily.org.uk

How to Appeal a Decision about Your Child’s Education
Here is excellent information from Ambitious About Autism on how authorities don’t always agree about what’s right for your child. What do you do if you need to take it to tribunal?
Click here to read the article

IPSEA
National charity IPSEA provides free and independent online resources to help resolve common issues with getting the right educational support for children and young people with all kinds of special educational needs and disabilities. They also run an Information Service, general advice helpline and tribunal helpline which provide a wide range of educational support and advice.
Advice helpline: 0800 018 4016
Tribunal helpline: 0845 602 9579
Click to visit website

SOS!SEN
A national charity aiming to empower parents and carers of children with SEN to successfully challenge the difficulties faced when battling for their children’s education rights. SOS!SEN offer a telephone helpline, five days per week during term time and information sheets on many topics.
They also offer small ‘hands-on’ one-day workshops to help parents prepare appeals to the SEN Tribunal. These can be supplemented with one-to-one sessions.
Telephone: 0208 538 3731
Email: admin@sossen.org.uk
Click to visit website

National Autistic Society Education Helpline
The NAS have an excellent helpline dedicated to helping parents deal with education issues. Their Education Rights Service provides impartial, confidential information, advice and support on education rights and entitlements. It is for parents and carers of pre-school and school-age autistic children to help them get the educational support their child needs.
Helpline: 0808 800 4102

National Autistic Society School Exclusions Service
The NAS School Exclusions Service offers advice and information to parents of children and young people with autism on all aspects of school exclusion in England.
This includes advice on informal (illegal) exclusions; fixed-period and permanent exclusions; how to challenge your child’s exclusion and what you can do if you are concerned that your child is at risk of exclusion.

Sometimes, an autistic pupil trying to cope with school life can go into meltdown. The high volume of instructions and demands; the deluge of sensory stimuli and struggle to keep up with the flow of social interaction that comes naturally to those around them. All of that can prove too much and anxiety can build to stress and ultimately to aggression.

Headteachers may feel that exclusion is the only solution in order to maintain the safety and well-being of other pupils. Indeed, it may be the case that a mainstream school is not the most appropriate setting for a particular child. However, disruptive behaviour can be an indication of unmet needs and schools have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to policies and practices to ensure that autistic pupils also feel safe, confident and able to experience success.

To use the Exclusions Service:

  • Call the NAS Autism Helpline on 0808 800 4104 (Monday-Thursday 10am-4pm and Friday 9am-3pm). The Helpline will take details of your query and arrange a telephone appointment for you with an Exclusions Adviser, who will call you back at the agreed time to discuss your query in detail.
  • Email your enquiry to schoolexclusions@nas.org.uk. It would be helpful if you could provide as much detail as possible regarding your enquiry.

Special Needs Jungle
Special Needs Jungle is a blog that provides easy to understand resources, articles and information for parents and carers of children with special needs, disabilities and health conditions to better enable them to navigate the special needs system.
Click to visit website
See also: The Special Needs Jungle’s Guide to the DfE SEND Funding Consultation

Educational Equality 
This organisation provides families with supportive, independent advice on all things to do with SEND. They can be reached online or over the phone.
Click to visit website
Telephone: 01980 677 235

Information about SEND issues from the Government:
Apply for school transport for your child
SEND: A Guide for Parents and Carers
SEND Code of Practice for Children 0-25
Ensuring a good education for children who cannot attend school because of health needs
View full list of Government SEND publications

See also:

How to get an EHCP yourself
Tips for dealing with professionals
Advice on school refusal
Autism and SEND acronyms and definitions

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