Service for Children and Young People with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

What is an Autism Spectrum Disorder?

An autism spectrum disorder is a complex developmental disorder that affects the way a person communicates and relates to people around them. The term autism spectrum is often used because the condition varies from person to person.

Some people with the condition may also have accompanying learning difficulties, while others are much more able with average or above average ability. Asperger Syndrome is a condition at the more able end of the spectrum.

The key characteristics of an autism spectrum disorder relate to:

  • understanding and using speech and non-verbal communication
  • impaired social and emotional understanding
  • flexibility of thought and behaviour
  • differences in sensory perception

What is the Service for Autism Spectrum Disorders?

The service works closely with schools and families to help remove the barriers to learning presented by this condition.

The service is developing a variety of educational provision to meet the wide-ranging demands of this spectrum disorder.

  • Following diagnosis by a paediatrician, the parents of pre-school children with an autism spectrum disorder will be offered support through the National Autistic Society EarlyBird Programme. Those aged 4-8yrs will be offered support through the EarlyBird Plus Programme. 
  • Some pupils may need the support of specialist Resource Bases such as those at Ryvers Primary School and Wexham Secondary School. 
  • Those pupils with more complex needs may be supported at Arbour Vale School in one of the specialist Resource Bases, as appropriate to their age. 
  • Help may be offered to pupils / students in mainstream education through a package of outreach support, which may include help with social understanding.

What is available in Slough?

  1. For parents of pre-school children with a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder we are able to offer support and training through the National Autistic Society EarlyBird Programme. For information contact Pauline Hallam, Head of Service on 01753 787692
  2. For parents of children aged 4– 8yrs, with a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder we are able to offer support and training through the National Autistic Society EarlyBird Plus Programme. For information contact Mandy Wimbush on 01753 787627
    EarlyBird Outreach worker
    Support for children and advice about the EarlyBird Programmes is available to nurseries and families from Sarah Covell on 01753 690842
  3. For some children with a Statement of Special Educational Needs, there are Specialist Resource Bases at some schools. See Special schools and SEN resources in Slough schools.
  4. The Autism service is also able to provide Outreach support to schools in the Borough, through: In-service training, half termly surgeries, visits to specific children, written reports, advice on management issues, attendance at Annual Review meetings, support for social understanding and guidance on appropriate resources and relevant publications.
    For information contact Mandy Wimbush Advisory Outreach Teacher for ASD on 01753 787627. Messages left on the voicemail system will be accessed regularly.

What strategies will help the child?

Aim to reduce confusion and anxiety by:

1. Providing a better environment 

  • Well organised resources 
  • Clear visual boundaries to show where activities take place
  • Visual schedules of daily activities

2. Establishing routines 

  • Structured teaching model 
  • Activities planned with clear beginnings and endings 
  • Activities presented in the order they are to be completed
    (First work Then play) 
  • Clarity about work to be done, amount to be done, when it will be finished and what will happen next

3. Developing better communication 

  • Gain attention before speaking
  • Use child’s name 
  • Be concrete and specific 
  • Avoid using vague terms 
  • Break tasks into small steps 
  • Be clear and use short sentences 
  • Stress the information carrying words (Give me the book
  • Avoid use of idioms, double meanings and sarcasm 
  • Warn about changes in activity 
  • Simplify by using visual support or by performing the task with the child 
  • Respond positively to attempts at communication 
  • Use ‘special interests’ to encourage 2 way interaction

4. Managing behaviour 

  • Praise appropriate behaviour and ignore unwanted behaviour 
  • Target praise specifically to the activity (Say good sitting rather than good boy/girl) 
  • Don’t leave the child in an open ended situation 
  • Tell the child what to do, not what not to do 
  • Teach social understanding 
  • Teach ‘Theory of Mind’ 
  • Introduce ‘Circle of Friends’ activities 
  • Use ‘Social Stories’

The Slough Family Information Service website lists local services and support for families affected by autism.