Autism is a common developmental disorder that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and how they experience the world around them. It affects 1 in 100 people in the UK, though people on the autism spectrum can exhibit a wide variety of characteristics.
Whilst some children and young people on the autism spectrum go to autism-specific SEND schools, 71% of autistic children go to mainstream schools. Mainstream schools will have an SEND statement, Education Health and Care plan (EHC) and Individual Education Plan (IEP) for any diagnosed autistic children attending the school, and all teachers must follow the requirements laid out in the SEND Code of Practice when teaching these pupils.
Despite being such a common disorder in UK schools, 60% of teachers in England do not feel that they have had adequate training to teach children with autism. However, there are extra steps all teachers can take to ensure that pupils under their care who exhibit signs of autism – diagnosed or undiagnosed – receive the best possible education for them. With the vast majority of autistic pupils attending mainstream schools, you will undoubtedly encounter autistic young people in your school and classrooms. So it’s good practice to ensure you’re aware of everything you can do for these students. Along with joining our free CPD sessions which frequently cover autism awareness and relevant skills, here are 6 easy ways to make your classroom autism-friendly.
It is important to remember that all autistic individuals exhibit different symptoms and have different needs. Make sure the strategies you use in your teaching are worked out and agreed with the pupil to ensure their strengths, interests, needs, and emotional wellbeing are met. Doing so will make it more likely that the autistic pupil will be motivated, engaged and encouraged to work with you and interact with their education in a meaningful way.
What is Autism? – Find out what it means to be on the autism spectrum and how to spot signs of autism amongst your pupils.
The Autism Education Trust ‘Schools Autism Standards’ – a set of standards from the AET to enable educational settings to evaluate your practice in addressing the needs of pupils on the autism spectrum.
The SEND Code of Practice – Guidance on the special educational needs and disability (SEND) system for children and young people aged 0 to 25, from 1 September 2014.
The National Autistic Society’s resources for teachers.
The Inclusion Development Programme – Part of the government’s strategy to improve outcomes for children with special educational needs.
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