Skip to content ↓

Rosebank SchoolListening, Responding, Learning


Children are born ready, able and eager to learn.  They actively reach out to interact with other people and the world around them.

('Development Matters in the EYFS' - DES            2012 p2)

For children with autism, however, it is very important to know that they are not as able to reach out to interact with others and some children with autism actively avoid this.

(Early Years Autism Standards – Autism Education Trust 2014 p3)

Children with Autism are likely to differ from typically developing children in one or more of the following ways:

  • They are less likely to understand the needs, views and feelings of others.
  • They are likely to have greater difficulty forming friendships and relationships.
  • They will have greater difficulty in understanding and using language.
  • They are less likely to explore new ideas or environments and more likely to prefer what they know.
  • They are more likely to be upset or confused by changes or new experiences.
  • They are much less likely to play imaginatively, preferring to repeat actions that they have engaged in before.

Therefore at Rosebank School, whilst we offer a play based curriculum in the early years we need to use a variety of approaches and methods to engage children and help them develop and learn in their own unique way in all areas of the curriculum.

At Rosebank we use the Early Years Autism Standards developed by Autism Education Trust supported by DfE to help develop our provision and meet individual needs. The standards have been developed referencing the SEND code of practice: 0 to 25 years 2014 which was introduced as a result of the Children and Families Act 2014.

Four Themes underpin the guidance in Development Matters in the EYFS. At Rosebank we use the guidance and adapt our practice to suit the needs of our unique children.

A Unique Child

Every child is a unique child who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured.

(Development Matters 2012)

Autistic adults and children tell us that it is vital for staff to get to know them as individuals and to find out from them what their interests and needs are and how they would like to be supported in the early years setting.

(Early Years Autism Standards 2014)

At Rosebank we understand that children with autism do not learn and relate to adults and children in the typical way. Children are closely observed to assess their social and emotional understanding, communication and language, ability to cope with change and their sensory needs. Individual Education plans, sensory plans, intimate care plans and behaviour plans are drawn up to address each child’s needs and next steps in development in these areas. Activities are adapted for each child dependent on their needs and level of understanding. Additional learning needs are assessed in conjunction with other professionals where appropriate.

Positive Relationships

Children learn to be strong and resilient through positive relationships.

(Development Matters 2012)

Parents of autistic children tell us that listening to them and working positively together is essential to meeting their child’s needs

(Early Years Autism Standards 2014)

Parents and carers are welcomed into the setting and their knowledge of their child is sought before the children start school and remains an on-going source of information to the staff working with the child.

Staff build positive relationships with the children through engaging in activities that the children enjoy but also through supporting them to try new things within a safe environment.

Staff meet formally and informally to discuss children’s response to activities and experiences. This shared information is used to develop new activities and experiences for the children. Where applicable, discussions are fed back to parents and other professionals.

Enabling Environments

Children learn and develop well in enabling environments, in which their experiences respond to their individual needs and there is a strong partnership between parents and carers.

(Development Matters 2012)

Adults supporting children with autism should adapt the environment to the needs of the individual child rather than making the child fit the setting.

(Early Years Autism Standards 2014)

At Rosebank the physical environment is designed specifically with the needs of children on the autistic spectrum in mind. A highly visually stimulating environment can be a confusing and frightening place for a child with autism. Therefore the environment is kept as calm as possible with only a few displays at any time. These displays will usually involve the children’s own work, pictures of things that the children have been shown in other activities such as group time or photos of the children themselves engaged in activities.

The classroom environment is kept as consistent as possible with changes being kept to a minimum. Photos of staff that the children will be working with that day are displayed for the children to see when they enter the room.

Children are given time to explore the classroom and the activities on offer each morning before they are asked to do anything else. Routines are kept as consistent as possible. Where children are finding the environment difficult at certain times of the day individual members of staff give them the option to move to a different environment where they feel safe and calm until they feel confident to return to the classroom or move to a new activity.

Visual supports are used to help children understand when changes are about to take place, for example when an activity is almost finished and when it is time to move to something new. As the children’s understanding of pictures and symbols develops they will move from using objects of reference to photos, then symbols and ultimately to an individual visual timetable. Progression to the use of a visual timetable will depend on each child’s understanding of the visual supports.

A wide variety of activities are planned for the children, some of which are tailored to children’s known interests, while others may be new experiences designed to stimulate the children’s interests. Children are taken on regular outings where adults support them to accept and explore new environments. Careful observation of their responses in different situations informs planning of new experiences.

Learning and Development

Children learn and develop in different ways. 

Practitioners teach children by ensuring challenging, playful opportunities across the prime and specific areas of learning and development.

(Development Matters 2014)

All children are entitled to a broad and relevant curriculum.  Children on the autism spectrum have specific learning needs and styles that must be addressed if they are to access the curriculum in a meaningful and successful way.

(Early Years Autism Standards 2014)

Individual activities are planned based on the observation of children in our setting and an understanding of their areas of need. Adult lead activities are designed to stimulate new interests in the children or to use children’s existing interests to develop skills in different areas of the curriculum.