Autism friendly schools

Teacher assists school boy using iPad

Luke Jackson, a young man with Asperger Syndrome states that ‘for some people school is like fitting a square peg in a round hole. For me at the moment the hole (school) has changed its shape slightly to accommodate me and the square peg (me) has tried to soften its edges. So a better description would be a rounded square trying to fit itself into a circle with sticky out bits’. (Jackson, 2002, p.134)

This section of the website provides some principles for creating autism friendly schools and specific ideas for “changing the shape” of a school to accommodate the needs of students on the autism spectrum, other diverse learners and their families.

The menu on the left of the page contains links to a number of videos that provide information about topics including:

  • whole school supports that cater for all students including those on the autism spectrum
  • the relationship of school culture, values, beliefs and leadership on a whole school approach to support diverse learners including those on the autism spectrum 
  • the advantages and challenges of implementing a whole school approach

In addition, you can read below for more information about creating positive partnerships between home and school, and supporting successful transitions, both important elements in creating autism friendly schools.

Creating Positive Partnerships

Collaborative partnerships provide the foundations for positive and meaningful experiences for schools, families and students. These partnerships are valuable in supporting student-centred planning and in enhancing consistency across all environments. Positive relationships with parents enhance student outcomes and successful school placement for students on the autism spectrum.

Schools can be effective in developing and maintaining collaborative partnerships with families when the whole school embraces the following principles:

  • willingness of school staff to work collaboratively
  • recognition and understanding of the importance and benefits of collaborative practice
  • provision of skills and resources to facilitate collaboration

Schools and families have a lot to learn from each other and both bring valuable skills, knowledge and experiences to a collaborative partnership.

Positive Partnerships has developed an online module called ‘Creating Positive Partnerships’ to help support the process of collaboration. The module provides:

  • information about the value of collaborative partnerships
  • perspectives from parents/carers and school staff about partnerships
  • strategies that will assist in making partnerships successful

The 'Creating Positive Partnerships' module is available in the Positive Partnerships online learning portal in the Parent/Carer course.

Supporting Successful Transitions

Children on the autism spectrum can experience stress with transitions, change and new situations. The degree of difficulty a child has with transitions and change can vary from child to child, and even day to day. Some have difficulty with even the most minor change while others seem to cope well with all but specific changes or more significant transitions. Each day a child experiences a range of transitions including moving from activity to activity, class to class and from home to school. There are also a number of less frequent but more significant transitions in a child’s life including moving house and educational transitions that require advance planning and sometimes additional support strategies.

Positive Partnerships has developed a module to help those working with students on the spectrum to better manage transitions:

The interactive Supporting Successful Transitions and Change module is available in the Positive Partnerships online learning portal within the Information Topics.

The module provides:

  • information about managing everyday transitions
  • advice about making education transitions successful
  • a range of templates to plan and support successful transitions

If you would like to register for the Positive Partnerships online learning portal, or you have already registered, please go to the login section.