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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Recommended

  • 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 spectrum disorder can significantly change their learning outcomes and their relationships.

About 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 ASD guidelines that shape our approach

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.

Resources for working with children and students who have ASD

Two TKI (Te Kete Ipurangi) websites provide specialised teaching resources for working with students who have autism spectrum disorder (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 well-being: communication, social interaction, thinking, and positive behaviour
  • how to use whole-class strategies to support students with ASD.

SE Online website

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

Ways to work with students who have ASD 

Read ASD: a resource for educators(external link) (external website).

Download ASD for educators presentation(external link) – download this PowerPoint from the bottom of the web page. 

Download ASD for educators(external link) to read about some of the characteristics of ASD, and strategies for teaching.

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 students (tamariki) 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 tamariki 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 info@autismnz.org.nz 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.

Links to other websites regagrding ASD

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

Government organisations and information

Links from the SE Online ASD website

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