Father and son reading

EarlyBird (under five years) and EarlyBird Plus (ages four-nine) are support programmes for parents and carers, offering advice and guidance on strategies and approaches for dealing with young autistic children. Both programmes work on understanding autism, building confidence to encourage interaction and communication, and understanding and supporting behaviour.

Find your local licensed team

EarlyBird

EarlyBird is for parents whose child has received a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder and is aged under five. 

The programme aims to support parents in the period between diagnosis and school placement, empowering and helping them facilitate their child's social communication and behaviour in their natural environment. It also helps parents to establish good practice in supporting their child at an early age.

Whilst there is no magic wand, EarlyBird is the closest thing you could wish for.

Parent

It will help you understand your child's autism; get yourself into your child's world, make contact, and find ways to develop interaction and communication; and and develop understanding of your child’s behaviour and how to use structure to support them.

The programme draws from well-established practice in the field of autism. The approaches used include:

  • the National Autistic Society SPELL framework
  • techniques from the TEACCH approach
  • Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS).

The knowledge we have gained has given us more confidence to analyse problems and hopefully prevent them rather than lurching from one crisis to another.

Parent

We work with six families at a time. Two places are allocated to each family. The programme lasts for three months and combines group sessions with individual home visits, when video feedback is used to help parents apply what they've learnt. Parents will have a weekly commitment of a two-and-a-half hour training session or home visit, and to ongoing work with their child at home.

EarlyBird Plus

EarlyBird Plus is for parents whose child is between the ages of four and nine who has received a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder.

The programme aims to promote a consistent approach across setting e.g. home and school, by encouraging parents/carers to attend the sessions with a professional who is working regularly with their child. We work to build both parents' and professionals' confidence and encourage them to problem solve together. Parents are able to choose to attend the programme without a supporting professional if their school are unable to release a staff member or invite a professional from a different setting who supports their child.

EarlyBird Plus is an absolute must to help you begin to learn and understand how your child's mind works.

Parent

EarlyBird Plus uses the established EarlyBird framework of increasing autism knowledge before considering communication, developing understanding of their child’s behaviours and considering strategies to support them.

We work with between three and six teams (parents and a local professional) at a time. Two places are allocated to each family with a third available for their local professional or another supporting adult.

Having the opportunity to discuss things with both his parents and other school staff was invaluable.

Professional

EarlyBird Healthy Minds

The EarlyBird Healthy Minds programme is a six-session parent support programme to help promote good mental health in children with autism (including Asperger syndrome). Healthy Minds has been developed in response to recent evidence which indicated that a high percentage of autistic children are at risk of experiencing mental health problems in adolescence and adulthood. The programme aims to help minimise this risk.

Who is the programme for?

Three places are allocated on the Healthy Minds programme: two for families whose child is in Key Stage 1 or 2, and one for an accompanying professional.

Autism-experienced professionals run the programme for families in their local area. The professionals are trained and licensed by The National Autistic Society’s EarlyBird  team. Sessions are run weekly for six weeks and last two and a half hours.

What are the aims of the programme?

Healthy Minds aims to empower parents, carers and accompanying professionals to understand more about the mental health issues that autistic young people may face.

During the six Healthy Minds sessions, we will look strategies that can help autistic children to:

  • build self-esteem
  • increase confidence
  • reduce anxiety
  • develop resilience.

Teen Life

Teen Life is a six-session programme for parents/carers of young people aged 10 to 16 years on the autism spectrum.

Programmes are run for up to six families at a time. Each family is allocated three places on the Teen Life programme: two for parents or carers and one for an accompanying professional.

The Teen Life programme aims to empower parents and supporting professionals to understand more about how autism is experienced by autistic teenagers. Topics covered include understanding autism in teenagers, women and girls, self-esteem, spending time with other people, stress and anxiety, behaviour, puberty, independence skills, education strategies and planning for the future. A Teen Life Programme Book will be provided for each family to accompany the programme.

What a course! I would strongly recommend any parent with a teenage child on the autism spectrum attend this programme.

Parent

The aim of the Teen Life Programme is to bring parents together to share information, experiences and ideas in a structured way. Teen Life emphasises the importance of autistic perspectives, with a variety of videos and quotes used throughout the sessions.

We have really enjoyed attending the course as a couple and meeting other parents of autistic children. It is interesting to discuss experiences and also share advice with other parents. We have learned a great deal, which we feel will keep us understanding our son better. Attending the course has also helped me in a professional capacity.

Parent

Find out more about our EarlyBird and Teen Life programmes

Your local team

You can find your local licensed team through our online directory. Enter EarlyBird/EarlyBird Plus/Teen Life into the search box and your post code into the location box, please note that the search results may take up to one minute to load.

Find your local licensed team

Licensed user training

We have been training autism experienced professionals to offer parent programmes to families in their local area since 1998. Licensed training to deliver any of the three EarlyBird and Teen Life programmes is available to autism-experienced professionals across the UK and overseas.

Find out about license user training