Over five years ago the National Autism Team* launched the first of their Learning with Autism school awareness programmes for Primary Schools. In 2017 further programmes followed for Early Year Settings and Secondary Schools, then Further Education was launched in 2020. To date 213 Primary Schools across Wales have achieved their whole school awards, as well as 96 Early Year settings and 20 Secondary Schools.
Our 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. There is a package of resources available for each programme which include training films, certificated schemes and useful tools such as child profile builder and picture cards.
In September 2020 the National Autism Team re-branded the website ASDinfoWales.co.uk, and launched their new website AutismWales.org. It was during this time the team renamed the ‘Learning with Autism’ to ‘Learning about Autism’.
As you are all aware Hwb is the Welsh Government’s digital platform for learners and teachers which provides access to a range of centrally funded, bilingual, digital tools and resources. All of these free resources and links for our Learning about Autism are available on the Welsh Government’s Hwb platform making the Learning about Autism resources more visible and accessible to all schools across Wales.
There were a few improvements made to the resources across the website and we wanted to let you know more about the ones listed below:
- Accessibility – AutismWales.org is fully bi-lingual website, some further improvements were made by introducing adjustable text size and colour filters tools for the webpages.
- Autism Superheroes – As we continue to work towards a more sustainable future and reducing the number of our printed resources we developed new and improved animated versions of the Autism Superhero story and comic books, there are also narrated versions now available on the website.
- User Dashboard / School User Account – after the Easter break schools will need to contact the National Autism Team to request a username and password for your individual school before undertaking the Learning about Autism programme. Creating this generic user accounts will help schools monitor uptake of the programme across the schemes by staff and pupils, but also saves time as individuals will not need to create their own website user accounts to complete the certificated schemes.
- School Awards and Re-applying – we recommend that all schools have a rolling programme to ensure all staff and pupils are aware of the resources and undertake the relevant certificated schemes. We will be requesting all schools to re-apply for their school award every 4-5 years, further information will be available at AutismWales.org.
- Subtitles will continue to be added to training video resources across the website, this has already been completed on our Can You See Me?, What is Autism and Work Based Learning films.
- During 2020-21 we are developing more resources for autistic individuals and will be creating a ‘Childrens & Young People Zone’.
- More information and case study examples regarding the positive impact the Learning about Autism programme has had.
Here is what some schools have said about the programme after achieving their school award:
“Our day to day practice has changed considerably, we have removed all things from the walls, we have had the room painted a subtle light blue/grey. We have had the busy blinds removed and replaced with plain ones. The sensory room is an extremely vital area for children, and we have now painted this black and have black out roller blinds. We have changed some children’s start and finish times to correspond to their needs. This has enabled some children to miss busy overwhelming times of the session. We have removed lots of toys from the childcare room as these seemed to over stimulate some of the children.” – Sea View Flying Start
“The programme has allowed children to be a lot more understanding and considerate towards some of their peers who have difficulties. They have more patience and concern for those around them.” – Penllwyn Primary School
“School staff are adapting lessons to suit pupils with ASD including being far more aware that these pupils may require support to access and understand work particularly in group situations and in paired work.”– Penyrheol Comp School
*The National Autism Team, is funded by Welsh Government and hosted by the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA), works in partnership with Public Health Wales (PHW).