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BTF Autism Handbook. Review Sep 2026 

NAS Autism Accreditation St Luke's School 

Communication is a key strength within our federation (Ofsted/ NAS) the staff have a clear understanding of the expressive and receptive communication needs of the pupils and how best they can support them in all areas of the school.  Staff consistently consider the language they used with pupils, simplifying what they are saying and using pupils’ names to get their attention before providing further information.  A range of communication methods are in place.  Staff are excellent at managing and supporting the social interaction of pupils both within the classroom environment but also during unstructured times in the playground.  There is a true collaborative style to learning with staff and pupils engaging with each other throughout a lesson.

"Staff are excellent at managing and supporting the social interaction of pupils both within the classroom environment but also during unstructured times in the playground."

St Luke’s is a calm school where pupils show confidence and security. There is a level of mutual trust between staff and pupils which allows them to make a mistake and know that it is okay.  Pupils are consistently seen to be at ease and engaged in motivating activities.  Pupils are seen to be supported to regulate their emotions; these skills are expressly taught to pupils through access to Zones of regulation.

NAS Accreditation St Luke's Report - Autumn 2021

ASD Communication Strategies


ASD Communication Strategies

Certain styles of communication are particularly effective with autistic children.

It is important to have the child’s full attention when you speak to them. Try to use their name so they can know you are talking to them and if you can, try to reduce the background noise so they can focus on your words.

Keep language simple. Use only necessary words. For example instead of saying ‘would you please come and sit over here on the chair’, point to the chair and say ‘Ben, time to sit down’.

Be positive. It is really important to tell your child what they should be doing, not what they shouldn’t... for example instead of saying ‘don’t throw the ball’ you could say ‘put it here’.

Provide extra thinking time for information to be processed. Some people with autism may process auditory (through their ears) information differently or more slowly than other people. Therefore it may be necessary to allow extra time for your child to respond o a request or question. WAIT.

Use visual supports. Some people with autism have particularly strong visual skills and may understand information that is presented to them visually better than information processed through spoken language. A hand held, car, shop, wait, sit, symbol may help. You could take photos with your smartphone and show your child as you go round the shop for instance to help them see what they need to buy.

Intensive Interaction and early communication techniques can sometime help to bridge the gap between those moments when your child is experiencing anxiety or overload. Use of calm copying actions, reinforcing emotions, allowing your child to lead the communication exchange, can often help them to calm enough to communicate their wants and needs effectively. Using Intensive Interaction techniques with all children can enhance their social communication and ability to make friends.

Using gestural support, or sign language (such as Makaton) can help your child to understand what is being asked of them. E.g. If saying ‘John, coat’ doesn’t have the desired effect, repeat (after a short time for processing) the words and mime the action of putting on the coat.

If we try to use these strategies when we communicate with our children it will mean we are able to give them the opportunity to become better communicators.

Self Regulation

Regulating yourselves at home:

Take the opportunity to give yourself a hand massage, giving deep pressure to the tight areas for extra nurture followed up sometimes with some hand cream too.

Connect with your resources, make a list of 5-10 things that you know help you to regulate and are accessible at this current time.

Commit to doing one of these things every day whether it is connecting with a loved one over Skype, putting on some music that you enjoy and makes you feel good or something else.

Food as a regulator:

this applies to everyone, if you have worked with an occupational therapist, you may be aware that food can be a regulator of our own arousal states and mood.

Crunch is for agitation

Think crunchy snacks like apple, carrot or corn chips.

Chew is good for anger

Think toast, meat, dried fruit.

Sweet/salt is for comfort

Citrus/mint for alerting and helping with focus

Orange slices, peppermints, chewing gum can be good when required to focus too.

Reference: Bhreathnach, E.

Self Care for Young People

Nature Trails

Bugs, bark rubbing and bird nests: turn your daily walk into a nature home school

Self Injury

Self Injury

Self-injurious behaviour

Self-injury can be one of the most distressing and difficult behaviours that parents, carers, family members and people with autism themselves may face. Sometimes referred to as self-harm, self-injurious behaviour is any activity in which a person inflicts harm or injury on themselves. About half of people with autism engage self-injurious behaviour at some point in their life. People with Autism are significantly more likely to self harm than non-Autistics. It can take many different forms, including:
* head banging (on floors, walls or other surfaces)
* hand or arm biting
* hair pulling
* eye gouging
* face or head slapping
* skin picking, scratching or pinching
* forceful head shaking.

People with Autism may engage in self-injurious behaviours as children and may yet return to these as adults during times of stress, illness or change.

Usual behavioural intervention approaches are not always appropriate. Seek professional guidance for any self-injurious behaviour which is difficult to manage or resistant to intervention, or for any behaviour which places the person at risk of harm.


The reasons a person engages in self-injurious behaviours can be wide and varied, and will often involve a complex interaction between multiple factors:
* they feel they are not listened to
* they have been told off
* they have little or no choice about things
* they have been bullied
* they are involved in arguments, or hear other people arguing
* they are feeling unwell
* they have memories of a bereavement
* they have memories of abuse.

Medical and Dental Issues
People with autism may have difficulty communicating to others that something is wrong physically and particular self-injurious behaviours (such as ear slapping or head banging) may be their way of coping with pain or communicating discomfort.

Mental Health
Some self-injurious behaviour may indicate underlying mental health issues such as depression or anxiety.

Repetitive Behaviours
Repetitive behaviours, obsessions and routines are common in people with autism, and some forms of self-injury may be expressions of this feature.

Developmental Stages
Some self-injurious behaviour may be persisting remnants of earlier motor behaviours which occur during particular developmental periods (eg hand mouthing which may continue beyond infancy).

Sudden self-injurious behaviour can get a very quick response from other people, and many such behaviours occur in people who have no other functional way of communicating their needs, wants and feelings.

Head slapping, or banging the head on a hard surface, may be a way of communicating frustration, getting a preferred object of activity, or reducing demands.
Hand biting may help someone cope with anxiety or excitement.
Skin picking or eye gouging may be a response to lack of stimulation or boredom.

Learnt Behaviours
The person may learn that self-injurious behaviour can be a very powerful way of controlling the environment. A behaviour (eg head slapping) which was initially a response to physical pain or discomfort could eventually become a way of avoiding or ending an undesired situation (eg turning the television off, interrupting an argument taking place nearby).