Autism Training for TAs


This training film looking how the right support and guidance at school can help children with an ASD, (Autism spectrum disorder). It examines areas of practical relevance, including sensory issues, the importance of routines, effective communication, play and friendships.

It explains some of the strategies which you can use to support children with an ASD and how you can enable them to get the most from their educational experience. From using different planners, visual aids, technology and apps, understand the needs of different children is imperative.

How do you support the children you are working with who have a different requirement?

Think about the examples you have which illustrate this.


Speaker 1 (00:14):

Current prevalence estimations suggest that one in a hundred children have an ASD. This DVD has been produced to assist, support, and advise primary school support staff in their daily work with children with an ASD. The right support and understanding in the school environment can be enormously helpful. The DVD will specifically concentrate on four main areas: sensory issues, routines, communication, and play and friendships.

Speaker 1 (00:57):

Sensory issues. Areas in school that are busy with other children or resources can cause problems with those with ASD, who may experience sensory issues. Bright lights, buzzing noises from classroom equipment, visually stimulating displays, or the movements of a large number of children through an area can cause a child with an ASD to become distressed or distracted.

There are many adaptations that can help. Develop a sensory neutral environment, dim lights, offer ear defenders if necessary, place a desk against a wall, allow somewhere quiet a child to go during playtimes, allow them to sit near a door during lunch or assembly, and give them a pass to leave if it gets too much.

Speaker 1 (01:50):

Routines. Many children with an ASD find it difficult to cope with changes. They prefer the predictability of a routine and cope better with structured activities. Changes to the school routine can cause a child with an ASD to become anxious. Substitute teachers, school trips, and activities leading up to Christmas can cause distress.

Speaker 1 (02:13):

You can help by putting events into an organized plan, which the child can access regularly and ahead of any changes that are upcoming. Being able to see clearly what’s going to happen can make a child with an ASD less anxious and confused.

Speaker 1 (02:30):

Different children will need planners presented in different ways, depending on their age and level of functioning. Some children will need planners that use photographs. Others can manage with clip art or cartoon style pictures. As children get older and are able to read, they may prefer written planners.

Speaker 1 (02:48):

For those children and young people who enjoy using technology, there are apps available on the iPad, tablets, and mobile phones that can be used. Please refer to the website for examples.

Speaker 1 (03:01):

Introducing structured activities during times when other children are offered free time can help a child with an ASD. Children with an ASD can have difficulty in choosing activities independently. Offering a choice between two or three activities can help.

Speaker 1 (03:18):

Communication. Children with an ASD have impaired social communication. This means that they may have difficulty in communicating to and understanding others. But there are various ways you can adapt your communication when working with a child with an ASD.

Speaker 1 (03:34):

Don’t force the child to make eye contact with you. They may not look at you while you’re talking to them. This doesn’t mean they’re being rude or not paying attention.

Speaker 1 (03:44):

Don’t use figurative language. Children with ASD interpret language literally. Phrases like, “Stop winding him up, or, “It’s on the tip of my tongue,” can be very confusing for them. Don’t rely on nonverbal communication to communicate or emphasize a point. Children with an ASD have difficulty interpreting gesture, facial expressions, tone of voice, or body language.

Speaker 1 (04:09):

Use a relaxed tone of voice. Say what you mean and allow the child time to process what you have said. This will give the child with an ASD the best chance of understanding what you are asking them.

Speaker 1 (04:22):

Play and friendships. Children with an ASD have impairments in their ability to interact socially. Making and sustaining friendships can be difficult, especially as children with an ASD struggle with some types of play.

Speaker 1 (04:36):

Some things that may help are introduce a buddy system. Pairing up with another child may help a child with an ASD to feel valued and develop social skills. During play, encourage other children to play structured games with rules so that the child with an ASD can join in. Children with an ASD find it difficult to understand imaginative or pretend play and, therefore, may not be able to join in with this type of play.

Speaker 1 (05:03):

Explain social rules and expectations clearly to a child with an ASD. Children with an ASD may not understand concepts such as taking turns, sharing, appropriate conversation subjects, or personal space. Be patient and be prepared to repeat your explanations.

Speaker 1 (05:25):

We hope you have found this DVD to be useful. If there is any other information needed, then please visit our website,



Websites – Department for Education. – The Training and Development Agency for Schools – Child Development Institute – NHS – Teachernet – Department for Education. – The Training and Development Agency for Schools


Books and Policy Papers


  • Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools (Primary) (Burnham)  ISBN 9780435032043 (Heinemann 2010)
  • Understanding Schools as Organisations (Handy & Aitken) ISBN 9780140224900 (Penguin Books Ltd 1986)
  • Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools (Primary) (Burnham)  ISBN 9780435032043 (Heinemann 2010)
  • A Teaching Assistant’s Guide to Child Development (Bentham) ISBN 9780415311083 (Routledge, 2003)
  • Successful School Transition (Dawrent) ISBN 9781855034358 (LDA, 2008)
  • Understanding Children and Young People: Development from 5-18 Years (Lindon) ISBN 9780340939109 (Hodder, 2010)