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Autism and the role of the teaching assistant

Updated: Mar 26, 2023

It is increasingly more common for students with Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) to attend mainstream lessons with the support of teaching assistants.

How can the presence of the teaching assistant be more effective in order to support Flora with her learning and integration in the mainstream lessons?

1. Support plan: It is important that the teacher works collaboratively with the teaching assistant in order to create a support plan for the student. In the plan, they should include the strengths and needs of the student, as well as their educational targets. See Pupil profile and Educational Targets. This will help both adults to have a clearer picture of what actions they need to take to support the student.

2. Communication with the family: It is important for the teaching assistant to communicate with the family of the student on a regular basis, so that both school and home can share any concerns and agree on a common plan of action. For example, if the student is having difficulty getting dressed, we can create opportunities at school and at home. See Putting on/ taking off my jacket here.

3. Differentiation: It is important for the teacher to plan and organise the daily activities together with the teaching assistant, so that the latter can modify them according to the needs of the student. For example, if it is time for Literacy, the teaching assistant can facilitate a similar activity but differentiated according to the student’s need. If the student cannot write, they can do an activity focusing on building their vocabulary instead. More information can be found here.

4. Creating symbols and using tools to help the student understand the activities. For example, the teaching assistant can use the individual whiteboard to help the student understand what steps they need to follow or simplify the exercise into smaller steps. See here.

5. Planning and teaching a differentiated lesson or activity: The teaching assistant can organize and facilitate a differentiated lesson or activity to a smaller group of students with similar difficulties including the student with ASD or on 1:1 basis. For example, to teach students to identify different emotions and how to react to them in a more acceptable way. More information can be found here.


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