0203 326 9160

0203 761 7026

0203 761 7027

0203 761 7029

0203 326 9160 0203 761 7026 0203 761 7027 0203 761 7029

Insights and News


How can Autism Friendly Support help my child?

Posted on Tuesday, 28 April 2020, in Child Autism

How can autism friendly support help my child


Children flourish when they feel safe and connected to those around them. When an autistic child’s needs are met, they are engaged, confident and more capable of adjusting to change. There are many social barriers that can prevent this outcome. But most can be dealt with by increasing our own understanding, challenging our assumptions and helping to create a safe environment for learning.


In this series we’ll explore strategies and tools you can use to help reduce frustration, dial-down anxiety and create opportunities for confident social interaction. We’ll be tackling three main areas of  autism related impairment for your child:


  1. Social communication refers to the means by which we communicate with each other, including spoken language and non-verbal signals such as facial expression. Children with ASD can struggle with speech development, the ability to interpret body language, facial expressions and spoken instructions.

  2. Social understanding is the grammar of social etiquette: the unwritten rules of how to interact with people. Unable to grasp these rules, autistic children can appear insensitive or rude and as a result they might struggle to make friends.

  3. Social imagination and flexible thinking are terms which cover an individual’s ability to deal with change and plan ahead. Even subtle differences can cause autistic children distress and they will often use repetitive behaviours to help cope.


 Autism Friendly support in the classroom


Autism Friendly Support (AFS) offers many practical approaches which you can apply immediately with your child. Rae Britton says it doesn't necessarily require medical knowledge or expertise. “These are some of the most basic things you can do: managing noise, the structure of a classroom, seating, tone of voice, the way you phrase questions. These are very simple steps that quickly make a difference to the child.”


It takes a community

The support needs to come from the people and environments surrounding your child, including teachers and staff at any extracurricular clubs, groups or teams your child is involved with. Clinical psychologist Dr Christine Cull says, “It’s not about asking people to become experts, but rather encouraging them to think about how environments are managed and how they communicate with the child. Ultimately it’s about what works for the individual.”

If one of our upcoming blog posts feels particularly relevant for your child, we recommend sharing the advice with people in your child’s community. It isn’t always straightforward though.  Dr Cull believes that naming the specific condition of autism really helps. “It’s difficult to ask other people to do the same thing when there isn’t always a clear rationale why they should do it. Once you get the diagnosis, it highlights specific impairments and you can begin to understand why your child needs things to be a certain way.” 


It takes a community to support any child autistic or not


You are the expert

This series of blogs is designed to highlight areas of challenge and tools to make things easier. But ultimately, as parents you are the people best placed to say what helps and what doesn’t. You can take our advice and shape it to suit your own child. “You become so expert at recognising the challenges of each environment that you can abbreviate that process to a manageable list, then hand it over to another adult,” says Rae Britton.


You are the expert at supporting your autistic child


Strategies for all 

Many of the strategies we will share with you in this series - from visual learning to written instructions and extra verbal cues - will have relevance beyond helping autistic children. “Sometimes parents feel like they’re saying, I need this for MY child, and that can feel demanding,” says Rae. “It helps to remind yourself that good provision for an autistic child is also good provision for others in the class.” What helps an autistic child may ultimately benefit others around them.”


Autism Friendly Strategies can work for all

Further Advice

The examples described within this article, and the following pieces give examples of approaches that can help to reduce the impact of autism specific impairments. It is not a fully comprehensive directory of all available interventions, and some of the suggestions may not be appropriate for all children.

At Clinical Partners our specialist clinicians have years of experience supporting children and adults with autism. To find out more about what’s available, visit our autism hub, listen to the latest podcast in our autism masterclass series for parents or call the team on 0203 326 9160.


Dr Christine Cull

Dr Christine Cull Clinical Psychologist CPsychol, AFBPsS, Doctorate, Msc, Bsc

Dr Cull has over 30 years’ experience as a Clinical Psychologist, working for the NHS Community and in-patient services, and for independent providers with children & adults.  She has spent the past few years specialising in working with people who have Learning Disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorders, their families, carers and other agencies.

No Internet Connection