These pointers to good practice are reproduced from good practice guidance produced by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) and the Department of Health (DH) following wide consultation with stakeholders, including The National Autistic Society. Based on good practice collected from across England, they outline a vision for an autism friendly school and an autism-friendly local education authority (LEA) and are useful tool for teachers, parents and others.

You can order or download a free copy of the complete DfES and DH Autistic spectrum disorders: good practice guidance.

Tel: 0845 6022260

An ASD-friendly school should:

  • Make sure all teachers are aware of their duties under the SEN Code of Practice to identify childrens needs, including those with ASDs
  • Have a named person, possibly the SENCO, who can provide guidance on ASDs and ensure that all staff who come into contact with a child with an ASD are aware of the particular needs of that child
  • Encourage staff with knowledge and experience of children with ASDs to share their expertise with any existing outreach support teams and with other school staff
  • Keep an up-to-date bank of information on ASDs for use by staff and parents
  • Have a policy on working with children with an ASD and keep up-to-date records of staff ASD training
  • Consult specialist staff (outreach support teams if available within the LEA) when developing policies on ASDs
  • Make sure a named member of staff who knows about ASDs is available to discuss any concerns the child with an ASD may have and help the child to contribute as fully as possible to the development of their provision
  • Ensure the curriculum of the child with an ASD is tailored to meet their needs
  • Provide opportunities for children with an ASD to generalise skills learnt in one setting/lesson to other situations/settings
  • Recognise that Information and Communications Technology can be a particularly effective medium for children with an ASD
  • Modify the school environment to take account of the difficulties with sensory stimuli experienced by some children with ASDs
  • Work closely with parents and families, consulting them about Individual Educational Plans and Behaviour Plans and inviting them to join in with ASD training where appropriate
  • Support families by ensuring that out-of-school activities include provision for children with ASDs
  • Develop communication networks between the LEA, Health and Social Services departments so that there is a three-way flow of information regarding individual children with an ASD, and a three-way flow of up-to-date information regarding ASD policy and practice
  • Ensure smooth transition between settings by exchanging accurate and up-to-date records, profiles and ways of working with the child with an ASD
  • Work closely with Connexions ensure a smooth transition to post-16 provision for pupils with an ASD.

An ASD-friendly LEA should:

  • Take account of the perspective of those with an ASD when developing services and designing provision to meet their needs
  • Provide or arrange access to a range of provision (from early years to post-16) for children with ASDs which ensures a co-ordinated and coherent service to the children and their families
  • Collect and collate information on numbers of children with an ASD to assist in forward planning
  • Have a policy on provision for children with an ASD that includes:
      Reproduced from Autism Working Group (2002) Autistic spectrum disorders: good practice guidance: 02 Pointers to good practice. London: DfES, pp.3-4. Available at
      Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queens Printer for Scotland.
    • Provide home-based programmes
    • Use┬áICT with children with ASDs
    • Support inclusion of children with ASDs
    • Audit and monitor the effectiveness of provision
    • Provide training and address the need to extend expertise in ASDs at different skill levels
    • Make sure that parents and professionals are aware of the different approaches used in teaching children with an ASD, including approaches used in the home
    • Provide training so that there are staff with specialist knowledge on ASDs who can support schools in their work with children with ASDs and their families
    • Commission and fund courses in ASDs that are available to all staff (teaching and non-teaching) and families of children with an ASD
    • Encourage the development of early identification of children with ASDs by participating in multi-agency assessments and working parties to develop identification protocols
    • Ensure that placement decisions for children with ASDs take into account their specific needs within the triad of impairments
    • Help to provide ways of supporting families outside of school hours
    • Liaise effectively between agencies, promoting partnerships between Health, Social Services, LEAs, the voluntary sector and parents
    • Ensure, where necessary, that educational settings have access to the skills of speech and language therapists who have specialist knowledge of ASDs or guidance from a therapist or other professional specialising in ASDs
    • Have close links with the Connexions service to ensure smooth transitions to post-16 provision for young people with an ASD
    • Work co-operatively with other LEAs in the region to enable consistent approaches to children with ASDs and their families.