Supporting children and young people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
See our advice on teaching students with autism spectrum disorder and links to other supporting resources and organisations.
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Providing the right support for students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can significantly change their learning outcomes and their relationships.
- About ASD
- The ASD guidelines that shape our approach
- Resources for working with students who have ASD
- Professional learning for people supporting students with autism
- Links to other websites regarding ASD
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is experienced differently by everyone who has it. Children and students often need support in communicating, interacting and taking in information. Their strengths may include visual and spatial skills, non-verbal problem solving and both visual and auditory memory.
Educators should work with the student’s individual strengths and interests in early childhood education and at school.
The autism spectrum disorder Guideline is the basis for working with people who have ASD in schools and the community. It’s a constantly updated ‘living guideline’.
Intensive early intervention for children and students on the spectrum has significant benefits. The guideline recommends:
- intervention and support as soon as possible
- responsive services for children, families and whānau
- structured teaching and environments that reflect unique needs
- support in everyday situations alongside their peers.
The research indicates that, with the right kind of teaching, students with ASD develop social and communication skills, and manage their stress and behaviour.
Two TKI (Te Kete Ipurangi) websites provide specialised teaching resources for working with students who have ASD.
Inclusive Education website
The Inclusive Education website(external link) has guides and downloads about ASD and learning. You’ll find out:
- information about ASD
- how to identify needs and strengths, and access support
- how to support key areas of learning and wellbeing (communication, social interaction, thinking, and positive behaviour)
- how to use whole-class strategies to support students with ASD.
TKI SE Online website
The TKI SE Online website(external link) is older but has other useful information.
- ASD in Education(external link)
- ASD: a resource for educators(external link)
- ASD for educators powerpoint(external link)
Courses by Autism New Zealand
Autism New Zealand is the supplier of the Ministry-funded programme to provide professional learning for people supporting students with autism.
Tilting the Seesaw for Teams is the name of the Autism New Zealand professional learning course. The course will educate teams of teachers, parents, whānau and other key support people in their understanding of autism. It also educates teams of people to work in partnership to develop skills and strategies to support learners with autism.
Tilting the Seesaw for Teams is a free two-day course. Contact Autism New Zealand for information about the course, and the course schedule.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or free phone 0800 288 476.
The Incredible Years Autism programmes
The Incredible Years Autism programmes are part of a series of interlocking, evidence-based programmes for parents, children and teachers, supported by over 30 years of research.
The Incredible Years Autism is a 14–16 session programme for parents, and the Incredible Years Helping Children with Autism is a separate six-session programme for teachers of children aged 2–5 with autism. Together, they aim to promote children’s emotional regulation, positive social interactions and language development.
- The Incredible Years Autism programme (for parents)(external link)
- The Incredible Years Helping Children with Autism programme (for teachers)(external link)
The following links connect you to information and support from specialist, community and government organisations.
The Ministry does not accept liability for the accuracy or content of information on these third party websites. When we link to other websites, that doesn’t mean we endorse them. And when you visit those websites, their conditions and copyright policies apply.
Specialist and community organisations
- Altogether Autism(external link)
- Autism New Zealand(external link)
- Catalogue of Disability Information and Resources(external link)
- Children's Autism Foundation(external link): provides support to families across NZ
- Creating Success(external link): running seminars on autism for parents and professionals
- Enable New Zealand(external link): information service for people with disabilities
- Hohepa(external link): caring for people with special needs using the principles of Rudolf Steiner
- IHC(external link): support and information on intellectual disabilities
- Disabled Persons Assembly New Zealand(external link)
- CCS Disability Action(external link)
- New Zealand Riding for the Disabled Association(external link)
- Parent to Parent(external link): support for parents of children with disabilities
- Positive Partnerships(external link): supporting school age students on the autism spectrum (Australian website)
Government organisations and information
- Disability Information Advisory Services (DIAS) – Ministry of Health(external link)
- Education Review Office (ERO)(external link)
- Health and Disability Commissioner(external link)
- Needs Assessment and Service Coordination Service (NASC) – Ministry of Health(external link)
- New Zealand Disability Strategy(external link)
- Disability services pages – Ministry of Health(external link)
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