If you’re a teacher of autistic children at any school, you might wonder how support them in and out of the classroom. In this blog post, we have a list of resources to help autistic pupils thrive, from nursery to sixth-form.
Laws to abide by
All teachers working with anyone who falls under SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) need to know about the SEND code of practice. Launched in 2014, it applies to autistic students aged up to 25.
Other laws you will need to know about are:
- Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014
- Children and Families Act 2014
- The Equality Act 2010
- Autism Act 2009
Aside from UK-wide law, there are local services you will need to know about. Each local authority has a Local Offer, covering service provision for autistic children and young people. Bristol’s is known as Findability.
Each local authority should have an autism outreach team which provides services like awareness training to your school or college. Bristol has the Bristol Autism Team. Each authority’s Local Offer website should have details of the team in your area.
This can be a difficult area to perfect, but the following links are all useful for talking to autistic pupils in a way that’s accessible and suitable for them to learn at their own pace.
- Boardmaker – a visual app designed to help map out activities for autistic children
- Talking Point – a service providing communication support and speech therapy for children
- The Communication Trust – Speech, Language and Communication Progression Tools
- Makaton – a form of communication that uses signs and symbols
- Social Stories – a simple way of telling pupils what happens during a social activity, lesson or change in routine
An important part of any school’s job is to provide timetables. For some autistic children, particularly those of a younger age, visual timetables are a godsend. They clearly display what’s going on during a school day, using images and short sentences or one-word captions. Here are some links for inspiration:
- ASD Teacher – visual timetables
- I CAN – visual timetables factsheet
- Easyonthei – image bank for Easy Read symbols
- Widgit – how to make a visual timetable
- Autism West Midlands – examples of visual timetables
Lessons and behaviour
Planning lessons for autistic children does involve a little work, but it’s worth it. Using a range of visual aids and other solutions to meet the needs of autistic pupils is useful at any age.
- TEACCH – a way of teaching autistic pupils that is mainly used in special schools
- Understanding anxiety at school
- Sensory issues and autism in the classroom
- A guide for teachers – includes tips on sensory issues and planning lessons
- Autism Education Trust – Behaviour
- Research Autism – Gentle Teaching
- Research Autism – Incidental Teaching
- Research Autism – Responsive Teaching
Socialising and bullying
The social aspect of school can often be the most stressful. In some cases, bullying can happen. This is really hard to deal with for many autistic children. Here are some resources to refer to if needed:
- Autism Education Trust – bullying
- Anti-Bullying Alliance
- NAS – Bullying guide for parents
- Ambitious About Autism – making friends
- NAS – Circle of Friends
- Playground support
- Understanding difficulties during breaktime and lunchtime
That period where teenage children prepare for college and university comes with a different set of challenges. Transitions also cover moves between schools and different stages of education, like starting GCSEs. The links below offer tips on how to help those aged 16-18 when preparing for ‘A’ Levels, apprenticeships and university.
Books and leaflets
There are lots of books out there about autism and education. Here are a few that can help you, as a teacher, learn more about autistic children and how to teach them:
- My Friend Sam – introducing autism to toddlers
- How to Support and Teach Children on the Autism Spectrum
- M is for Autism – book written by schoolchildren
- Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism
- A Guide to Writing Social Stories
- Flying Starts for Unique Children
- Autism Spectrum Disorder and the Transition into Secondary School
Best websites to visit
To get information on topics relating to autism in school, there are a few websites worth visiting. Here they are: