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punishing a pupil with autism is often counter-productive since their behaviour difficulties usually stem from their lack of real understanding.

How can I help children with autism at my school? Teachers, parents and carers all need to ensure there is a system of knowledge, advice and training put in place in order to effectively support the child throughout their education. A range of strategies can be used by teachers to support a pupil with

autism, and one of the most important things to get right is learning how to communicate with them appropriately. In order to try and help children with autism understand verbal communication, teachers should speak as clearly possible, using direct language and saying exactly what they mean. It is also useful to slow communication down, giving them extra time to process the information they are receiving. Making sure that the pupil understands exactly what they have to do is vital – just because they can repeat back an instruction given to them, does not necessarily mean they know what it means. Visual aids are also an excellent tool for the classroom. Something like

a visual timetable showing times and simple drawings of the activities, so that the pupil knows exactly what they will be doing and when, has been shown to work well and can be applied to other sequential processes such as getting changed for PE. Other visual supports include written lists, objects and calendars which can help children understand a sequence and predict what comes next. Children with autism have also been found to benefit from working

in a distraction-free environment. Allocating an area of the classroom which can be kept free from anything which may distract the pupil from their tasks, but where they may see their visual timetable, has been known to reap great rewards. Buddying schemes can also help to build confidence at school. Having

someone to turn to if they have difficulties understanding what is going on around them socially, in the classroom or playground, can be really useful and also helps them to develop relationships with others.

“Having someone to turn to if they have difficulties understanding what

is going on around them can be really useful and also helps them to develop relationships with others.”

Children with autism can often become extremely anxious for reasons

that may not be obvious to the rest of the class or the teacher, so it can be a good idea to have a strategy in place to deal with this. Special cards can be used for the pupil to indicate when their anxieties become too great, allowing them to exit the classroom without having to explain in detail what is wrong. Being able to go to a “safe place” like a library or a time out area when they cannot manage in either the classroom activity or at break and lunchtimes can be extremely beneficial for the child and also helps to avoid major class disruptions.

Autism Education Roadshow Throughout 2011 and 2012, the NAS will be hosting a series of five conferences across the country providing education, health and social care professionals with an opportunity to learn new strategies and share good practice. Featuring a range of expert speakers, workshops, a panel debate

and plenty of networking opportunities, the events will provide an opportunity for professionals to gain crucial knowledge about how best to support children with autism effectively. Jane Green is senior education consultant for the education support

service of the NAS and will be speaking at the roadshow. She is a firm believer that with the right support, children with autism can flourish in school: “Pupils with autism need support in their education skills as well as meeting their needs with their social curriculum throughout the school day. Enabling them to achieve in schools will help them to become more positive about their prospects and be more independent. Providing advice, strategies, action plans and support for teaching staff can help them feel more confident when teaching pupils with autism in their schools.”




The series of conferences began on October 11 in Liverpool. The

roadshow is now continuing to Newcastle, Birmingham, Exeter and London, finishing in March 2012. For a full list of events, details and key topics please visit:

• For more information about teaching children with autism visit the National Autistic Society website:

Call 0333 321 2136 for a competitive quote 25

Photo: Stuart Thomas, courtesy of The National Autistic Society

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