Autism can be experienced by each child very differently. Because of this, there is no single best approach when it comes to supporting children with autism. Each child will have their own challenges and behavioural responses. The Planning Matrix is a tool designed to support families and teachers to better understand the unique characteristics of a child. The information gathered can then be shared with extended family, teachers, health care providers and other caregivers.
How it works
We have a couple of different versions of our Planning Matrix. We have our standard Planning Matrix and our Visual Planning Matrix. We also have an individual storyboard developed in collaboration with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
All versions of our Planning Matrix are intended to help parents, carers and teachers identify the unique strengths and challenges individual children may exhibit across five key areas, and to highlight strategies that can be used to further support them.
The five key areas are:
Communication – how they express themselves and their ability to understand others.
Behaviour – how they respond to their environment and changes to it, as well as unique behaviour patterns or interests they may express.
Social Interaction – how well they can read social cues, make friends and understand and respond to others.
Sensory processing – how they respond to sensory data, such as touch, taste, sound, sight and smell, as well their sense of balance and spatial awareness.
Learning styles & information processing – how they perceive and process information, their preferred learning style (visual, verbal, physical, etc.) and their ability to self-regulate, pay attention, plan, and think critically.
For each of these areas, the Planning Matrix will identify:
Characteristics – the particular strengths, challenges and differences the child has in each of these areas.
Impact – how these characteristics impact the child and how that may affect others around them.
Strategies – what specific steps can be taken to provide the best possible support.
Ideally the Planning Matrix should be updated regularly so it grows with that child and the strategies adjusted as needed.
Note: the example shown to the left is the Visual Planning version of our Planning Matrix. It uses slightly different prompts to those listed above.