Working Together to Support Autism"



Autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability, which affects the way that children understand their daily lives, interact and communicate with others. There are a number of pupils in Aberdeenshire schools who present characteristic behaviours associated with ASD. While some have a diagnosis, others do not for a variety of reasons. Irrespective of diagnosis, all need sensitive management, developed with the full involvement of parents and carers.
Appropriate management in school can reduce the barriers to learning and help children and young people with autism achieve their academic and social potential. Collaborative work with other services and agencies is key to providing consistency and continuity of support.

Aims of these Guidelines

  • To develop and embed good practice in supporting children and young people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
  • To develop an effective working partnership with parents.
  • To develop collaborative practice with other agencies and services such as community child health, social work, speech and language therapy, voluntary agencies.
  • To work alongside other agencies in supporting families of children and young people with autism.
  • To provide a framework for professional development.
  • To build the capacity of establishments to provide appropriate support.

Legal Framework

  • Best practice in Scottish education is informed by national legislation and guidelines.
  • The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act (2004) introduces a new framework for supporting all children and young people. It places a duty on education authorities, health and social services to work together to develop support for individual children and to identify and address barriers to learning. Aberdeenshire is piloting a model for integrated assessment (IAF) to support all children with additional needs. This will include children and young people with autistic spectrum disorder as well as other complex needs.


These guidelines are advised by:

  • The Scottish Strategy for Autism
  • Aberdeenshire‘s Additional Support for Learning policy guidelines
  • Aberdeenshire Accessibility Strategy
  • Existing good practice in Aberdeenshire schools
  • Statistical information e.g. National statistics, Phoenix school administration system, Scot Ex Ed systems for gathering data from schools
  • Feedback from Scottish Autism Services Network (SASN) questionnaire 2006
  • Feedback from Aberdeenshire questionnaire on the autism outreach service
  • "Audit and Evaluation of Provision for Children and Young People with Autistic Spectrum Disorders" Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Dundee. June 2006
  • Public Health Institute of Scotland (PHIS) report (2001) which directed services to develop a multi- agency approach to assessment, diagnosis and intervention for children and young people with ASD.
  • West Midlands audit tool (2005).
  • "Getting it Right for Every Child" (2005) Scottish Executive. Integrated Assessment Framework.
  • National Training Framework for Autistic Spectrum Disorder (2004).
  • " The Same As You?" (2002) Scottish Executive review of services for people with learning disabilities, which endorses multi agency working and the participation of parents. It recommended the development of a Scottish Autism Support Network (SASN), which is now operational.

Support within Community School Networks

It is proposed that within each Community School Network, a multi agency approach will be established to support schools in promoting good practice in relation to ASD. This will include professionals and parents who have undergone specialist training and/or have developed an expertise in autism.

Staff and parent expertise developed through the Scottish Autism Framework, Strathclyde University, underpins this approach, which is to be piloted on a case study basis in four identified Community School Networks. It has evolved from the Aberdeenshire Autism Outreach Service and will replace it in due course.

The following will be able to make a contribution to this approach subject to availability:

  • Parent/Carer
  • Teacher (Primary/Preschool)
  • SFL teacher (Secondary/Primary)
  • Educational psychologist
  • Speech and language therapist
  • Social worker
  • School Doctor/NHS representative
  • Community Learning and Development worker
  • Relevant voluntary organisations e.g. Grampian Autistic Society

Support for Parents

Partnership with parents, carers and families is a key part of our approach to support for autism.

  • Aberdeenshire’s Managing Accessibility Plan (MAP) gives parents/carers the opportunity to be involved in their child’s education.
  • A Scottish Executive/ NHS joint funded support pack for parents and carers is now available and will be circulated to all networks. It is also available online. It will be complemented by a directory of additional local information, which will be developed in consultation with parents and the National Autistic Society.
  • Further information about Autism services provided by Aberdeenshire Council and other relevant organisations is available to parents through the Authority website's Support for Autism page.
  • Aberdeenshire Early Intervention programme provides training for early stages (Primary 1 and 2) staff and opportunities to work support the role of parents.
  • The Scottish Autism Services Network (SASN) website provides information and support to families, carers and professionals
  • The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 gives parents and carers of children and young people with additional support needs the right to take an advocate or supporter/friend with them to any meetings about their child’s education. Advocacy ASL Grampian has been set up by Children in Scotland in response to the Act, to provide information and advocacy support to parents, carers and young people to help them access their rights and to facilitate communication between them and the education professionals involved in their situation.

Pupil Involvement

It is recognised that it can be difficult to support children and young people with autism in expressing their views. Nevertheless, it is important to work with children as individuals with their own strengths and learning needs. As with all children and young people, they have a right to be involved in decisions that relate to their education, what they want from services and about matters that affect them. Multi -agency working can provide a context for more effective consultation.

Pupil participation is supported by the following:

  • Aberdeenshire Accessibility Strategy (circulated to all schools)
  • Aberdeenshire pupil progress review guidelines (circulated to all schools)
  • Educational Psychology Service
  • Transitions documentation (included in the pack)
  • Pupil planning documentation e.g. Individualised Educational Programme
  • Authority training programmes
  • Aberdeenshire Council autism strategy

Professional Development

  • An important role of the network approach is to provide training and support to all partners in the Community School Network including pre-school education providers.
  • Professional development will be offered on a multi-agency basis to staff in
    Community School Networks in a number of ways:
  1. Awareness raising, including an understanding of how a child with autism perceives the world and how this impacts upon others.
  2. Practical strategies for school staff (this will include a focus on the meaning of challenging behaviour).
  3. Mentoring opportunities to share good practice and experience.
  4. Post Graduate Certificate, Strathclyde University
    Protocols for the joint funding of staff development are being explored.
  • The Educational Psychology Service can provide guidance, training and research information.
  • School staff interested in undertaking action research can obtain guidance and support from the Educational Psychology Service.
  • School staff are encouraged to attend the numerous national conferences available.
  • Grampian, Scottish and National Autistic Societies can provide support and guidance
  • Scottish Autism Services Network (SASN) website gives parents access to support and professionals the opportunity to share good practice

Staged Approach and Good Practice

  • An Aberdeenshire Education and Children's Services staged intervention procedure has been developed to meet the needs of children and young people on the autistic spectrum. This provides a model for the development of an autism friendly school. Schools should adapt this to their own circumstances, acknowledging that there are always difficulties to overcome. (Included in the pack)
  • These procedures acknowledge the role of several agencies in developing consistency of approach in school and home environments.
  • A range of planning formats is available to target and monitor support e.g. Individualised Educational Programme (IEP).
  • The Authority Managing Accessibility Plan (MAP) may be used to identify and agree support. This has been circulated to all schools.
  • Staff in schools should record strategies that have been put in place to support pupils with autism together with an evaluation of their effectiveness. Documentation that can be used for this purpose is also included in these guidelines. (Included in the pack)
  • Further advice about the school environment, curriculum and strategies is available in the Aberdeenshire Accessibility file, which is in all schools. All teachers have a copy of the CD-ROM, which also contains this information.
  • Emphasis is placed on supporting children and young people as they progress through the school system to adult life. Pupils with ASD have particular difficulty with transitions: nursery to P1, P7 to S1 and school to adulthood. Pupils may also have to adapt to change from home to respite or home to youth activities. A model for transition, the pupil passport workbook, aimed at P7-S1 transfer is included with this guidelines. It could be adapted for any relevant transition. The Educational Psychology Service can be consulted on practice relating to successful transitions.
  • Guidelines for secondary schools receiving a child with a ‘Transition Passport’ are included in the pack.


The multi agency approach to pupil support will be evaluated through the Community School Networks and Educational Psychology Service. It will draw upon the following information:

  • Outcomes for pupils: IEP/Pupil targets
  • How Good Is Our School (HGIOS) quality Indicators
  • West Midlands audit tool
  • Parental views
  • Network statistics
  • CPD/ training evaluations
  • National Autistic Society accreditation


For more information, please contact the Inclusion team at:

Education and Children's Services
Woodhill House
Westburn Road
AB16 5GB