This document is also available in a PDF format: Autism: Suggestions for school staff [334KB]

Please note: These suggestions are especially relevant for children with Asperger’s Syndrome and High Functioning Autism. 
Children with autism spectrum disorders have particular diffi culties with social communication that infl uence their learning and relationships at school. Their specific strengths and difficulties need to be taken into account when designing individual learning plans. Finding ways to include these children and accommodate their specific needs is also important for supporting their mental health and wellbeing. By recognising their special talents and interests, school staff can encourage these children’s learning as well as encouraging others to accept and include them.

How school staff can help

Provide a predictable environment 
It is important to put in place a structure that defines expectations clearly and prompts the required behaviour routines. A predictable environment will reduce student anxiety, confusion and behaviour problems and lead to better learning outcomes.
 
Build on strengths 
Children with autism spectrum disorders often have specific talents and interests. Finding ways to incorporate their particular talents and interests helps to engage children in learning. Particular skills may also be strengths, such as skills for learning by repetition and rote memorisation. 
 
Adjust language to support understanding 
Adjust the complexity of language used to the child’s level. Keep in mind the child’s difficulty with symbolic language and metaphor and ensure that he/she understands your meaning. 
 
Clarify expectations 
Children with autism spectrum disorders may have unusual attentional strategies and unexpected ways of prioritising and planning. They often have limited organisational skills and may need additional assistance when required to conform to a set standard of presentation or performance in school work. 
 
Use written prompts 
Using written prompts can help some children with autism spectrum disorders understand and follow task requirements. For example, school staff may find it useful to give a written cue card to reinforce instructions and directions. 
 
Use visual cues 
Learning and understanding may be assisted in these children by visual ‘scaffolding’. Use a variety of photos, real objects and diagrams during lessons and as reminders for important steps and procedures.