Supporting children and young people with autism

See our advice on teaching students with autism spectrum disorder and links to other supporting resources and organisations.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Educators, Teachers and Kaiako
  • All Early Learning Services
  • SENCOs and Learning Support Coordinators
  • Teacher Aides
  • Learning Support Specialists
  • Parents, Caregivers and Whānau
  • Principals and Tumuaki
  • Boards
  • External agencies

Providing the right support for students with autism can significantly change their learning outcomes and their relationships.

About autism

Autism 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 guidelines that shape our approach

The autism guideline is the basis for working with autistic people in schools and the community. It’s a constantly updated ‘living guideline’.

Aotearoa New Zealand Autism Guideline: Third edition – Whaikaha - Ministry of Disabled People(external link)

Intensive early intervention for autistic children and students  has significant benefits. The guideline recommends:

  • supportive accommodations and adjustments 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, autistic students develop social and communication skills, and manage their stress and behaviour.

Resources for working with autistic children and students 

Two TKI (Te Kete Ipurangi) websites provide specialised teaching resources for working with autistic students.

Inclusive Education website

The Inclusive Education website(external link) has guides and downloads about autism and learning. You’ll find out:

  • information about Autism
  • 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 autistic students.

Autism and learning – Inclusive Education(external link)

TKI SE Online website

The TKI SE Online website(external link) is older but has other useful information.

Professional learning for people supporting students with autism

Courses by Autism New Zealand

Autism New Zealand is the supplier of the Ministry-funded programme to provide professional learning for people supporting autistic students.

Autism New Zealand website(external link)

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 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)

More sources of information on Autism

The following links connect you to information and support from specialist, community and government organisations.

The Ministry of Education 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

Government organisations and information

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