For autistic children, attending school can be an intimidating and overwhelming experience. However, in most cases, there should be a range of people who may be able to help, including the school’s Special Educational Needs & Disabilities Coordinator (SENDCo), inclusion managers, speech and language therapists, educational psychologists, and occupational therapists. There should also be a number of different types of support available, including:
Many autistic children have problems vocally communicating when they need help. Language support offers non-verbal aid that can help in times of distress. The important thing is that all parties are aware of it and, importantly, that the child feels confident to use it.
This could be a safe place or a trusted person to go to in times of difficulty. Social skills training can also be provided to people involved in the child's care.
In the classroom, visual supports to help with new words, recordable devices to support working memory or technologies to support writing can significantly help autistic children. Support can be tailored to the specific needs of the child, and there may also be additional support such as one-to-one or small group precision teaching for specific learning gaps.
To get the appropriate support it's important to work as a team with all parties and especially the school, maintaining open, honest and constructive communication. This should include reviewing any school reports, highlighting key messages, and making sure everyone is aware of the most important issues that may affect your child. Just remember that school staff deal with lots of children, so try to be patient and don't overload them with emails.
If you think you're not getting the right support and need to challenge a decision, we suggest consulting a specialist service to understand your options and what help is available.