Estimates tell us that around 1 in 100 children have an Autism Spectrum Disorder – or ASD – which means there are children with an ASD in many early years settings.
The Learning about Autism programmes are a series of programmes aimed at raising awareness of autism across all care and educational settings including non-maintained and maintained provision. All resources are available at no cost from the National Autism Team as it has been funded by the Welsh Government and developed by the Welsh Local Government association. The Learning about Autism – Early Years is available for all mainstream schools, early years education providers, maintained and non-maintained early years settings to use.
In some settings, it may be useful to use the programme in conjunction with our primary school programme which can be accessed at https://AutismWales.org/en/education/i-work-in-a-primary-school/
Learning about Autism – Early Years is an invitation to become an ‘Autism Aware Early Years Setting’, and there’s a package of resources available to support the process:
- Training film for early years staff, showing some of the challenges faced by children with an ASD during a normal day, designed to develop awareness, and stimulate discussion about the steps we can take to improve their experience and engagement levels. Including an online questionnaire leading to a Staff Certificate in ASD Awareness.
- Autism: A Guide for Early Years Settings, a complete guide to understanding and supporting children with an ASD.
- Two self-evaluation tools: one for all childcare settings eg. playgroups, Flying Start and non-maintained settings based on the CSSIW inspection framework for Early Years and childcare. The other based on Estyn inspection framework for all settings delivering foundation phase places. Both self-evaluation tools will help settings to identify current provision, practice, plan and monitor improvement.
- a Power Point presentation about the issues involved in autism an online questionnaire leading to a Certificate in ASD Awareness for other early year setting staff (catering, admin, etc)
- For pupils, there’s ‘Teifi and Friends’, an animated film showing how children in early years settings can be kind and accepting towards peers with additional needs.
- A range of free to access support resources such as an online;
- Child Profile – available to setting staff, parents, carers and other professionals. With everyone working together, it can build into an effective resource, making sure there’s consistency and continuity of care for a child with an ASD.
- Childrens’ Picture Cards – a simple, interactive resource, where you can search, select, download and print from a series of bilingual picture cards, to create a structure chart for a child with an ASD, providing daily structure or to support specific activities such as toilet training.
- Cue Cards – to support verbal instruction with visual cues and support with specific activities such as toilet training.
Everyone needs to be on board to create an Autism-Aware Early Years Setting. As individuals come to understand more about ASD, their actions influence those around them, and being an Autism- Aware setting becomes a reality.
Raising awareness about autism has the power to change lives: the lives of children with an ASD, and the lives of those around them. It encourages understanding, tolerance and respect, so that together we can all reach our full potential.