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 Impact of Autism on Social Curriculum
IMPACT Responding to the needs of pupils 

Social skills needed to access learning opportunities are likely to need purposeful teaching .

Assessing social as well as academic skills is essential as is recognising the validity of teaching such skills and recognising that they are vital to enable pupils to access more formal learning. This is important at all stages i.e. from nursery through to secondary and indeed further and higher education.

Social knowledge may be out of step with age or other cognitive abilities.

A sound awareness of autism in general and how it impacts on individual pupils is needed for staff to recognise and appreciate the significant impact of impairments in social interaction. Impairments can be very obvious but may also be quite subtle. Social expectations should be in line with current capacity rather than expected capacity based on the child's or young person's age.

Specific strategies are likely to be needed across a range of contexts.

Involving the pupil as much as possible will enable staff to take account of what is motivating for the pupil e.g. it may be important to the pupil to attend a youth club as this is what peers are doing.

Transferring social skills from one context to another is likely to be problematic.

It will be important for staff to understand that generalising difficulties are associated withASD and to recognise that pupils are likely to need direct teaching and support to enable them to use skills in a range of contexts. Pupils will be supported by:

Staff accepting this as a feature of their autism.

Maximising opportunities for social learning that takes place in situ.
Modelling the expected social behaviour.

Developing appropriate peer support systems such as a "buddy" system.

Using visual supports to prepare the pupil for new social experiences.

Providing a named and accessible member of staff to support the pupil emotionally when social situations go wrong.

Providing support to enable the pupil to reflect on social situations that have gone wrong and to develop alternative strategies or coping mechanisms. This is likely to require use of a range of strategies that use visual or cognitive approaches.

Using information from previous teaching staff, family members and other involved professionals may be helpful in forming pro-active or preventative strategies.

Pupils with ASD may make no distinction between how they interact with adults and how they interact with peers. Indeed the pupil may perceive the adults in the setting are more like peers than the other pupils.

Staff may need support to ensure they do not take the pupil's communication style personally.

Whole school education regarding diversity may help minimise perceptions of other pupils that an individual child "gets away" with particular behaviour that would not be tolerated if offered by other pupils. This does not mean identifying any individual pupil but rather advocates an ethos where pupils are treated equally but individually.

Pupils with autism, particularly more able individuals, often have a desire for friendship but lack knowledge and experience of the incremental and complex way in which friendships develop. This can render them socially vulnerable in a number of ways:

They can be vulnerable from more streetwise pupils who may encourage them to be disruptive in order to "earn" a place in a group.

They can be more vulnerable to bullying as they are unable to read the predatory signals of children who engage in bullying.

They are unlikely to be able to generate a range of strategies to enable them to disassociate with individuals who are taking advantage of them.

They may not recognise that they have to report acts of bullying in order to seek support. Added to this they may be unclear about who may be in a position to help them.

Anti-bullying guidance may need to be differentiated in order to be more accessible for pupils on the spectrum.

Pupils with autism may need individualised support in order to recognise such behaviour in others.

Pupils are likely to benefit from having a nominated adult or indeed an adult they identify to approach when they feel uncomfortable. Staff may need to initiate support as some pupils would not take the initiative to discuss problems even if they are quite extreme.

Pupils may need to be purposefully taught a range of strategies for removing themselves from situations - such strategies are likely to be helpful to all children.

Pupils may need playground or street language translated for them as there is a tendency towards literal and formal use of language.

A safe haven or retreat within the school may be useful when pupils are feeling overwhelmed or uncomfortable.

Pupils with autism are likely to interpret language on a literal level. Added to this there is a tendency for logical, sometimes rigid interpretation of rules. Social behaviour may therefore be very inflexible with some responses being perceived by adults as belligerence. Such pupils are frequently exactly right on a logical level but extremely inappropriate on a social level.

Clubs and interest groups are likely to provide a place where pupils with autismcan socialise and also shine in terms of their knowledge and or ability.

Again it is important not to take certain responses personally. Staff working with pupils with autism need to be aware of their own non verbal and verbal language. They may feel their authority is challenged and may feel undermined by the pupil. It is important to reflect on such responses within the context of understanding the impact of autism on the pupil. It may be beneficial to set out rules, expectations and required standards of behaviour from the outset. Of all the pupils in the class those with autism are the most likely to conform. It will however be difficult for pupils to detect implied meaning therefore clear and explicit instruction is likely to be needed.

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