Autism is a spectrum disorder that is commonly found along with many other needs.
This page gives general information on how we can help pupils with autism.
There is no single indicator for autism, but children with autism will have many or all of the following traits:
- Compulsive or repetitive behaviours
- A deep interest in one subject or activity that really seems to interest them
- Sensitivity to light, noise, smell, touch or taste
- Unusual response to strong stimuli, such as pain
- Difficulty relating in a social situation, particularly with peers
- Lack of social empathy towards others
- Delayed communication skills
- Difficulty in starting or maintaining small talk in conversations
- Difficulty in expressing emotional or physical need
We have a great deal of experience in supporting pupils with mild to moderate autistic traits and these children usually do very well at Campion. We do have some experience of working with pupils with more extreme levels of autistic traits.
- We regularly update our staff on how to support pupils with autism; these training sessions cover both strategies to help them with teaching and what it feels like to be in school from the child’s point of view.
- Pupils with a working diagnosis of autism will have a key worker, usually a teaching assistant at the school, as a point of contact between the school and home. It is important that this is the main route for communication as multiple routes can lead to confusion and missing information.
- Where it is appropriate we will try our best to make sure that there is a teaching assistant in classes where there are pupils with autism. However, most children with autism do not need this level of support.
- We offer a homework club after school to help children with SEND needs complete any homework that has been set. This often helps as many children with autism draw a line between home and school and find it difficult completing their homework out of school.
- Classes are ordered and we do expect children to be working in silence for parts of every lesson.
- Some pupils with autism may have meltdowns and to help with this we use a five point scale so pupils can show the teacher when they are starting to feel stressed.
- We have a quiet place that children with autism can go to when they feel stressed and need to calm down.
- We have a club at break times and lunch times where children with SEND can go if they prefer a quieter and more structured place to spend their time. The Access club offer Minecraft, crafts, board games or just a space to read a book. Some pupils with autism enjoy chess club or ICT catch-up in the computer rooms. It is important to realise that children with autism are individuals like the rest of their peers and it would be wrong to group them together to offer them the same activity or experience.
- Although children with autism seem to seek out a space by themselves there is research that children with autism still feel loneliness. We do have some supervised, organised small friendship clubs. We do try to encourage pupils with autism to create friendships, but it can be slow with setbacks from time to time.
- Puberty can be a frightening time for children with autism, especially when they start to realise that their interactions with their peers are different from other teenagers. We have a counsellor that they can talk to as well as other forms of support from local organisations as well as from within school.
- We have just appointed our first interdenominational chaplain to support pupils who experience life changing events such as bereavement, divorce or separation. Pupils with autism may find these events even more worrying than their peers.
Here is a movie of the slides we used in a recent training session for staff: