How SEN teachers support children with Autism Spectrum Disorder


For children with autism the world of education can be extremely challenging, which is why SEN teachers have a pivotal role to play in supporting them through the process.

Often known as Autism Spectrum Disorder, autism affects social interaction and communication in numerous ways; as a result, various teaching methods are required to help children with autism to reach their potential.

It’s important to note that pupils will often have a unique way of looking at the world around them, and that an approach that works for one pupil, may not work for another.

A number of pupils that are diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum often remain in mainstream schools, meaning SEN teachers must recognise the signs and know how to support these pupils.

Among the range of behaviours, SEN teachers may look for difficulties in communicating, as well as those that struggle with change or with rules.

How can SEN teachers support children with autism?

Supporting pupils can take a wide range of forms, depending on the difficulties faced by any individual pupil.

Those that struggle with communication may benefit from the use of pictures or symbols, or may need instructions to be repeated.

Others may need longer to process information or may understand simplified sets of commands, while those with sensory needs may benefit from changes to the classroom environment.

Children on the autism spectrum may also require a degree of routine to their day and can find change difficult – in these instances, it’s important to ensure that all pupils are aware of the needs of those around them.

Ultimately, each child will need different levels of support and teachers will need to recognise what is needed in any given situation.

Build relationships and create safe spaces

SEN teachers may wish to agree on routines with parents and to communicate closely with them to ensure that the best approaches are being used.

Tackling issues such as bullying and teaching autism awareness is vital, as this helps to ensure that all pupils are comfortable in their school surroundings.

Such an approach may also include having a safe or quiet place when pupils with autism can go if they start to feel anxious or overly-stimulated.

The National Autism Society has a wide range of resources available for teachers that can help them support those with Autism Spectrum Disorder.