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For inclusion to take place, educational provision must be adapted according to the pupil's individual needs. The child's needs should be the starting point for identifying what type of school they should attend and the support they need in that setting. Whatever the setting, educational provision for autistic children needs to be appropriately resourced. All mainstream schools should expect to teach children on the autism spectrum, and have the understanding, resources, training and specialist support to meet their needs.

Supporting students with autism in the classroom: what teachers need to know • Learning Links

Where training and resource needs are not met, the principle of inclusion is undermined. The National Autistic Society believes that special schools contain a wealth of skills and expertise, and that they continue to have an important role to play. Special schools play a key role in educating children with more complex needs, and working in partnership with mainstream schools to support greater inclusion.

The Government's policy of inclusion should never be used as a rationale for cutting specialist provision, as long as that provision continues to be necessary for any autistic child.

Supporting students with autism in the classroom: what teachers need to know

For information on any of the above, please contact our Press Office on or email press nas. We use additional cookies to learn how you use this site and to improve your browsing experience. If you consent, please allow all. More information. In turn, children and young people on the autism spectrum need to clearly understand the whole school ethos, expectations, and rules of behaviour.

Differential Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Neurologist’s Perspective

The physical learning environment can impact significantly on children and young people on the autism spectrum. It is important to reduce as many barriers as possible and to set students up for success in a predictable and calm environment.

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Careful analysis of individual learning needs is necessary to understand their child's motivation and preferred ways of working. Planned strategies along with places and times for calming breaks may need to be in place support the child in the classroom. Children and young people on the autism spectrum may need to have the skills for effective learning explicitly taught.

For example, general talks, timetables and work expectations need to be presented in a structured way.


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Structured approaches benefit all children and young people. There is a critical need to develop a highly individual profile of strengths, interests, skills and abilities as they will have implications for learning. Anxiety may also be an issue as children and young people on the autism spectrum may experience significant social interaction challenges that will need to be addressed before they are ready to learn.

Specialist Support Approaches to Autism Spectrum Disorder Students in Mainstream Settings

For students on the autism spectrum structured teaching approaches need to be in place across all areas of the curriculum. Teacher's recognition of a student's patterns of strengths and abilities, as well as need provide the necessary level of adjustment.

Adjustments ensure that the child on the autism spectrum can access the content of the curriculum. Teaching needs to be clear and explicit and tasks broken down into manageable steps with easily understood expectations for successful completion.

Children and young people on the autism spectrum often do not develop social and communication skills in the same way as their peers. Teaching social skills to children and young people on the autism spectrum can be one of the most challenging and rewarding tasks that educators undertake. The social skills component of the educational program can play an important role in the functional success of every other goal.

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Children and young people on the autism spectrum often experience sensory processing difficulties that may vary in range of intensity and can have a significant impact on learning. They can have unusual responses to sensory experiences and may be hypo-sensitive sensory seeking in certain areas whilst being hyper-sensitive sensory avoiding in others.


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There are strategies that can be put in place to assist the student's readiness for learning. Each student on the autism spectrum has a unique sensory profile which can fluctuate from day to day. While the other sections contain information relevant to working with both children and young people on the autism spectrum, the factsheets below are specific to adolescents on the autism spectrum and considerations in the secondary school setting.