School support for autistic children with SEND
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School support for autistic children

Some parents of autistic children experience difficulties when dealing with schools in terms of getting the right support for their child.

Ordinarily Available Provision

All mainstream schools and early years settings are expected to provide support for children and young people with special educational needs. Needs include

  • cognition and learning
  • communication and interaction
  • social, emotional and mental health
  • sensory and physical needs.

Find out more about Ordinarily Available Provision here.

If you are having difficulty getting your child’s needs supported in school here are the local and national support services that can help you.

Local education help

SEND & You (formerly known as Supportive Parents)
An independent organisation offering a free confidential and impartial service to any parent who has a concern about their child’s education. Their service offers:

  • Information & Support Line on 01179 897725 open 10am – 2pm, Monday, Wednesday and Friday during term time only (answerphone at all other times)
  • Help with paperwork and preparation for meetings
  • Monthly support group meetings and termly newsletter
  • Free parent courses designed to give an overview of relevant Education policies and specific information relating to SEN provision
  • Courses aimed at SENCOs, school governors and trainee Educational Psychologists

Telephone: 01179 897725
Click to visit website

The Bristol Autism Team 
Bristol Autism Team is a council-run team supports children and young people with Autism in Bristol mainstream schools from reception until the end of secondary school. To learn more about the service they provide, visit the Bristol Local Offer website.

Global Mediation
Global Mediation offers a disagreement resolution service for parents who are not able to reach agreement with their local authority about their child’s special education needs.
Telephone: 0208 441 1355
Click to visit their website

Portage and Home Visiting Service
The Early Years Portage and Home Visiting Service provide support to families and early years practitioners for children from birth to five years, who are disabled and/or have special educational needs. Portage is not available to children who have a nursery place, as it is felt the two offer similar learning support.
Telephone: 01173 773235
Click to visit website

SEND Advocacy
Alice Marshment supports parents and carers through various SEND issues including EHCP reviews and appealing EHCP needs assessment and EHCP refusals.
Telephone: 07562 689577x
Click to visit website

Irwin Mitchell Solicitors
‘Our team of highly experienced education law solicitors is ready to help you address all aspects of your case. Much of our work is for clients who are denied access to education or their access to education is restricted.’ The webpage below has useful information as well as template letters you can use for various situations.
Telephone: 0808 274 3932
Click to visit website

Watkins Solicitors
A Bristol-based firm with expertise in dealing with SEND issues, particularly appeals and tribunals.
Telephone: 0117 939 0350
Click to visit website

Education Other Than at School (EOTAS)
EOTAS is for children in South Glos who are vulnerable to exclusion or are undergoing a formal assessment of Special Educational Needs and are without a school place.
Read more about EOTAS in South Gloucester

Hospital Education
Hospital Education is the Bristol equivalent to EOTAS and is designed to support young people who are unable to access mainstream education because of medical needs.
Read more about Hospital Education

Autism Toolkits
Bristol’s Local Offer website has several toolkits for school-age autistic children in the city.
Visit this page to see the list of toolkits

Click here for a list of all of the specialist schools in the West of England

National education help

Sunshine Support
Sunshine are an independent SEND support service. They also run excellent webinars and clinics.
Visit their website

Cerebra Accessing Public Services Toolkit
This toolkit can help you if “you are facing difficulties with official bodies in trying to access the health, social care and education support services you and your child are entitled to, our Accessing Public Services Toolkit can help. It identifies common issues and offers strategies to help resolve them without resorting to legal action.”
Visit this page to download the Accessing Public Services Toolkit

SENTAS (Special Education Needs Transport Advocacy Service)
SENTAS provide an invaluable service to parents and carers who have locked horns with their Local Authority over who will pay for their child’s transport to school. “We can help take away the stress and hassle of appealing Local Authorities decisions to get your child the service they are entitled to.”
Visit the SENTAS website

National charity IPSEA provides free and independent online resources to help resolve common issues with getting the right educational support for children and young people with all kinds of special educational needs and disabilities. They also run an Information Service, general advice helpline and tribunal helpline which provide a wide range of educational support and advice.
Advice helpline: 0800 018 4016
Tribunal helpline: 0845 602 9579
Click to visit website

A national charity aiming to empower parents and carers of children with SEN to successfully challenge the difficulties faced when battling for their children’s education rights. SOS!SEN offer a telephone helpline, five days per week during term time and information sheets on many topics. They also offer small ‘hands-on’ one-day workshops to help parents prepare appeals to the SEN Tribunal. These can be supplemented with one-to-one sessions.
Telephone: 0208 538 3731
Click to visit website

A note on Exclusions 
Sometimes, an autistic pupil trying to cope with school life can go into meltdown. The high volume of instructions and demands; the deluge of sensory stimuli and struggle to keep up with the flow of social interaction that comes naturally to those around them. All of that can prove too much and anxiety can build to stress and ultimately to aggression.

Headteachers may feel that exclusion is the only solution in order to maintain the safety and well-being of other pupils. Indeed, it may be the case that a mainstream school is not the most appropriate setting for a particular child. However, disruptive behaviour can be an indication of unmet needs and schools have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to policies and practices to ensure that autistic pupils also feel safe, confident and able to experience success.

Special Needs Jungle
Special Needs Jungle is a blog that provides easy to understand resources, articles and information for parents and carers of children with special needs, disabilities and health conditions to better enable them to navigate the special needs system.
Click to visit website
See also: The Special Needs Jungle’s Guide to the DfE SEND Funding Consultation

Information about SEND issues from the Government:
Apply for school transport for your child
SEND: A Guide for Parents and Carers
SEND Code of Practice for Children 0-25
Ensuring a good education for children who cannot attend school because of health needs
View full list of Government SEND publications

See also:

How to get an EHCP yourself
Tips for dealing with professionals
Autism and SEND acronyms and definitions
Here is an excellent document with advice on university and college, created by the Bristol Autism Spectrum Service

Schools can access training through the Autism Education Trust – Find your local provider here.