Understanding and Supporting Autistic Learners
Aberdeenshire Council is committed to supporting all autistic children and young people to flourish in education and achieve their full potential.
We recognise the importance of staff who are supporting autistic learners having access to high quality professional development opportunities.
A Professional Learning Framework for Education Staff has been developed to ensure that there is an Aberdeenshire-wide core level of knowledge and understanding across the education workforce, as well as recognised pathways for developing more advanced knowledge and skills. It is based on The NHS Education for Scotland (NES) Autism Training Framework ‘Optimising Outcomes’ (2014) which sets out four levels of skill (informed, skilled, enhanced and expertise levels). These levels are based on the professional’s frequency of contact with autistic people and their level of responsibility.
As part of this framework, the Educational Psychology Service has worked collaboratively with partner agencies to develop an online training package, available for all staff working with autistic learners. This reflects a growing need for supporting the development of a whole school approach to meeting the needs of autistic children and young people. The aims for the course are to build individual practitioners confidence levels and knowledge base surrounding autism, as well as to help facilitate an establishment to develop a consistent whole school approach.
Understanding and Supporting Autistic Learners: Universal Autism Training is available to all staff online on ALDO. It comprises of 5 distinct modules with associated activities to help to embed the learning. Extension materials are signposted throughout the course for those wishing to delve deeper into a topic.
The five modules are outlined below:
- About Autism, We were expecting you
- Cognitive Theories
- Understanding Sensory Behaviours
A further set of modules called Understanding Sensory Behaviours are also available on ALDO. These were created collaboratively by Educational Psychology, education establishments and NHS Occupational Therapy to enhance practitioners’ understanding of sensory needs and how these can be supported in education. There are four modules in the course. The first of these modules helps us understand how everyone has sensory needs and preferences. The next module further develops skills and knowledge around targeted support needs. A further module focuses on interventions and adaptations that can help meet sensory needs and considers the school environment in addition to the curriculum. The final module focuses on the creation and utilisation of sensory spaces in school.
This tool is designed to support schools to self-evaluate and reflect on how well autistic learners are understood and supported. It draws on the Autism Education Trust Schools Autism Standards, and Schools Autism Competency Framework, and can be used alongside The Autism Toolbox http://www.autismtoolbox.co.uk/, How Good is Our School 4 (HGIOS 4), the Aberdeenshire Professional Learning Framework for Supporting Autistic Learners and the Understanding and Supporting Autistic Learners: Universal Autism Training ALDO course (see above)