Wednesday April 3rd is World Autism Day and the Guardian has assembled a number of resources designed to help teachers support those affected and ensure all students understand the disorder.
The condition affects more than 700,000 people in the UK and has an impact on communication and social interaction. As it has no physical signs, however, some students can find it difficult to understand.
Special educational needs (SEN) website Humans not Robots has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD)-friendly classroom presentation which raises awareness of some of the needs and difficulties of those with ASD.
It emphasises the need for an individualised approach to those with the condition but also includes some general strategies such as beginning lessons with short, fun and factual activities that provide immediate structure and awarding points for meeting pre-agreed targets.
The guide explains what ASD is and its impact on communication, social and thinking skills. It advises changing the classroom environment to reduce background noise, use natural lighting and avoiding "busy" displays or posters.
Practical advice for those in education jobs is available from the Autism Education Trust. Details are provided on the SPELL framework, which was developed by the National Autistic Society to help professionals respond to those with ASD.
SPELL is aimed at reducing the anxiety a child with the condition may experience and to help them work effectively in an environment in which they feel safe. The framework focuses on structure, positive behaviour, empathy, low arousal, and links with home.
Ambitious About Autism has produced a resource called Woodfer's World which aims to reduce the risk of bullying. It focuses on 'neurodiversity' and the different ways in which people perceive the world.
Research has shown that more than 70 per cent of people with ASD are taught in mainstream schools and 40 per cent of those are bullied.
Educational charity Film Club has a number of resources that could help secondary school students understand ASD, including Mary and Max, a stop-motion movie featuring a character with Asperger's Syndrome.
The World Autism Awareness Day website has a number of resources with information and ideas about the condition.
Posted by Theo Foulds