Behaviour: Autism

18th February 2011 at 00:00
The problem: I support an autistic pupil in a mainstream Year 1 class and find it hard to help him access appropriate activities and play alongside other children. How can I help him focus and interact and still provide one-on-one support?

What you said

"I suggest you find out what the child's interests are. There is no point in keeping them in lessons that are too challenging - this will lead to a meltdown. Are you given lesson plans that you could adjust to suit the child? Also, have a back-up plan. This may involve removing the child from the classroom and focusing on just what interests the child. Not ideal, but it will save the child getting anxious and going into overload."


"The school is supposed to offer a suitable education to each child on its roll. As far as I am aware, it's the class teacher's responsibility to prepare work suitable for the child. That includes children with autism. The goals you are working towards for the child should be integrated into the work that the class is doing."


The expert view

It is tricky to comment on individual cases, but there are some general guiding principles you can follow. The first question that needs to be asked is, how much training on working with children on the autistic spectrum has your organisation recently undertaken? To be successful in meeting the child's individual needs, you need to understand how they see and make sense of the world around them.

If you are finding it difficult to access funding for specific training, you may wish to look at attending national conferences, which will work out cheaper, or visiting schools that regularly work with children on the autistic spectrum to see their whole-school approach. There are several organisations you can approach for advice: the Autism Education Trust and National Autistic Society both have excellent websites where you can start your hunt for resources. There are also the Government's Inclusion Development Programme (IDP) materials on the autism spectrum (available to download from the Department for Education website). These would serve as a good starting point as well as being the ideal basis for some whole- school training.

One final thought is that it is worth looking at your transition and staff professional development arrangements so that training needs can be identified early and provision made for ensuring your whole team has a broad base of knowledge to draw on.

These may already be in place, but your request for help would suggest that at the very least some tweaking is required.

Sean Stockdale is editor of `Special' magazine, which is published by nasen, formerly the National Association for Special Educational Needs. For more advice, go to



- Look into your training and development programme and how it could include dealing with autism spectrum disorders.

- Consult relevant websites and Government guidelines for resources.


- Assume that teachers have knowledge or experience of dealing with pupils with autism spectrum disorders.

- Blindly follow the lesson plan if it is not suitable for this particular individual.

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