Students on the autistic spectrum & behaviours that challenge


There are many different approaches for supporting people with autism. A highly bespoke approach is required based on your knowledge of the young person you are supporting. This set of principles developed by Portland College offers some good advice.

Many autistic people struggle with changes to their daily routines, therefore this situation is likely to be highly challenging for your students. You will need to help them to establish routines by the use of accessible planners and structured activities. You should present a timetable of activities in an accessible way, for example using now, next and then, or sequenced symbol strips.

Camphill Wakefield has developed a Living Skills Tracker that can be individualised to meet the young person’s needs. This is an easy way of agreeing a plan and monitoring the achievement through the day. Queen Alexandra College has developed a fun and customisable way to work through agreed home learning activities, which can even be turned into a game of bingo!

Many young people with autism will need to be motivated to engage and persist in their learning. They may respond positively to a clear reward system. To be effective this is likely to be need to be highly individualised. Camphill Wakefield have successfully used a reward system which includes a visual way of structuring the day. Learners (and parents) may also welcome praise from teachers and support staff.

Resources and practical suggestions


Learner wellbeing is a top priority at this time. The line between wellbeing support and support for learning may be very blurred for some learners with autism.

Portland College is using a wellbeing journal with high functioning learners with autism, which can used flexibly to suit different needs. It incorporates the Warwick Edinburgh Wellbeing Scale and is useful to track progress over time. ESPA has developed a number of activities to promote wellbeing, including using music to help promote wellbeing and making a wellbeing box where familiar strategies are included to manage anxieties. Glasshouse College students have taken part in a mindfulness activity, making a “Calm down jar“.

You can find a range of more general suggestions on our Wellbeing page.

Curriculum resources

The following resources have been used successfully by the contributing colleges with their autistic young people.

Glasshouse College

Differentiated English activities

A maths scavenger hunt

An Islamic art activity incorporating functional maths skills development

Landmarks College

Home activities with naturally occurring maths, English and ICT opportunities.

This material has helped parents and carers to understand how they can continue to support the development of these skills in the home.

Queen Alexandra College

This video provides step-by-step guidance on creating a movie trailer using iMovie. It is hugely motivating for more able students.

Wargrave House College

A variety of resources, including instructional videos to enable young people to bake, make a cup of tea, prepare a simple meal and do their washing.