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Autism in Schools Team

Our team works with children and young people aged 4 to 16 with a diagnosis of autism who are on roll at a school in Cornwall.

Our vision is that: 

  • Cornwall supports autistic children and young people to achieve positive outcomes.
  • We inspire, challenge and advise our partners to find shared solutions.
  • Children, young people and their families can access services which meet their needs.

Most of our work promotes the inclusion of autistic young people in an educational setting. This is done through work in both the home and at school. Professionals within the Autism Team will:

  • Support multi-agency working
  • Promote a joint problem-solving approach
  • Promote interventions that are evidence-based

Download our Autism in Schools Team Brochure

The Autism in Schools Team (AST) consists of:

  • Five Autism Advisors
  • A highly-specialist Speech and Language Therapist
  • Eight autism workers and senior autism workers

The team is line-managed by a Senior Educational Psychologist. 

We are a neurodiverse team with a mixture of professional experience, academic experience and lived experience. We are all passionate about supporting autistic children in Cornwall’s schools. We will always try to work in a neuro-affirming way – this means we will support and champion autistic strengths and differences, rather than trying to change autistic ways of being. This often involves recommendations about changes to the environment, teaching styles and strategies, behaviour policies, etc. We strongly believe these wider changes have a positive impact on our autistic children and others.

Goals should always be child-centred and linked to things that are important to the child. We will not set goals that encourage masking (trying to appear ‘less autistic’ in order to fit in) as there is growing evidence that masking has significant long-term negative impacts on mental health and wellbeing.

We use identity-first language as standard (‘autistic person’ rather than ‘person with autism’) as research shows this is preferred by the majority of autistic people. If we are writing about you (e.g. in a report) and you would prefer something different, just let us know and we will happily use your preferences.

As well as casework to support individual children, we also work across whole schools, MATs and other non-school-based teams in Cornwall. This includes:

  • Annual Autism Champions training, with follow-up mentoring sessions and a new Community of Practice for existing Autism Champions – this empowers schools to support autistic and neurodivergent children in their school community.
  • Training for schools and for other teams (including free Autism Awareness training for primary schools) – please contact us to discuss your training needs. We offer training on a wide range of topics and can create bespoke training to suit your needs.
  • Parent cafes – working alongside school staff to support parents and carers.
  • Teacher surgeries – discussing tricky situations anonymously without the need for a full referral.
  • Group work with groups of children or young people on a range of topics e.g. preparing for secondary school, developing independence skills / preparing for adulthood, exploring autistic identity.
  • The ‘Overcoming your child’s fears and worries’ intervention – this is a CBT-based programme for parents and carers. Our highly skilled workers will adapt this to your individual circumstances and your child’s specific needs. Please see the additional leaflet for more information
  • Autism information sessions for parents and carers – please see the section below for more information and a sign-up form to express your interest in attending.

Please see our brochure for more information. 


Please note, because of the way the team is funded, we can only accept casework requests from schools in Cornwall. If you are a professional in another service, e.g. a social worker, youth worker, etc. and you would like to commission some traded work, please contact us on . If you are a parent, please talk to your child’s SENCO about making a referral to the team. We can work with children who are on roll at a school but not attending (e.g. due to anxiety) if they would like support to return to school.

Children being referred for casework must have a diagnosis of autism. Depending on team capacity, we may be able to offer some limited casework with children who are felt to be autistic but do not yet have a diagnosis as traded work. Please contact us on to discuss this.

Please see the team brochure for details of casework entitlement and the other support available to schools. If your schools is part of a MAT which has an SLA with the team (currently Kernow Learning and Aspire) you may have a different referral process – please talk to your MAT SEN lead if you are unsure.

Download the Request for Involvement Form

These sessions are for parents and carers of autistic children and young people. They are group-based and offer plenty of opportunity for discussion with other parents. We are not here to tell you how to parent your child – we acknowledge that you are the expert on your child, however raising an autistic child in a neurotypical world can be challenging and we would like to help you to navigate this. We always aim to work in a neuroaffirming way, viewing autism as a different way of experiencing and processing the world rather than a disorder or a problem that needs fixing.

We run some specific sessions for parents of autistic children who also have significant communication and learning needs. If you feel these sessions would be more appropriate for you, please highlight this in the application form below.

If you have any access requirements, please let us know and we will do what we can to make the sessions accessible for you.

Please note these sessions are for parents/carers and are not designed for children or young people to attend. Please make alternative arrangements for your children during the sessions if they are not in school.

The sessions are delivered in 3 sections:

  1. An introduction to autism
  2. Workshops about different aspects of autistic life, for example:
    • Puberty and adolescence
    • Masking
    • Sleep
    • Challenges with eating
    • Anxiety and emotional wellbeing
    • Sensory processing
    • Communication and visuals
    • Executive functioning
    • Friendships and relationships
  3. Individualised support – this might be further small-group workshops, or one-to-one consultation sessions with a member of the autism team to discuss any specific questions or challenges you may be experiencing.

Register your interest in attending our information sessions

What is Neurodiversity?

Neurodiversity is the concept that there are a variety of ways that people's brains process information, function, and present behaviourally. Rather than thinking there is something wrong or problematic when some people don't operate similarly to others, neurodiversity embraces all differences.  The concept of neurodiversity recognises that both brain function and behavioural traits are simply indicators of how diverse the human population is.

Neurotypical is a descriptor that refers to someone who has the brain functions, behaviours, and processing considered standard or typical.  Neurotypical people may have no idea they are because the subject has likely never come up for them before. These people usually hit all of their developmental and behavioural milestones at the same times and ages that are considered standard for most people.  Once grown, they generally move through life without having to wonder if their brains function in the same way as others do.

Neurodivergence is the term for people whose brains function differently in one or more ways than is considered standard or typical.  There are many different ways that neurodivergence manifests, ranging from very mild ways that most people would never notice to more obvious ways that lead to a person behaving differently than is standard in our society. We'll examine the most common types of neurodivergence and the ways they manifest ahead.

Neurodiversity Profiling Tool

Children and young people who are showing signs of neuro-developmental needs can access a Neurodiversity Profiling tool which can help identify what support a they may need.

The neurodiversity (ND) profiling tool is the first step in identifying neurodiversity within children and young people aged 0-19. It was initially piloted with 50 families in Portsmouth from March 2021 to April 2022 and is approved for use across their city.

The tool has been adopted across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to support early identification and early help of children and young people presenting with neurodevelopmental needs.

What is the ND Profiling Tool?

The ND profiling tool is a visual document that assesses nine developmental strands of a child or young person aged 0-19. This includes:

  • Speech and Language
  • Energy Levels
  • Attention and Impulse Control
  • Emotional Regulation
  • Motor Skills
  • Sensory
  • Flexibility and Adaptability
  • Systemizing and Empathizing
  • Cognitive Ability

It provides a holistic view of a child or young person’s needs and suggests types of strategies that can be put in place to help manage those needs in different areas of a life, such as:

  • at home
  • at their early years setting
  • at school or college
  • in the community

The process of completing the profile is carried out with the family, and not for or to the family.

Neurodiversity Hub

The Neurodiversity Hub provides families, young people and practitioners with:

  • access to a range of resources and tools
  • up to date information, and
  • interactive functions which offer support

The Neurodevelopmental (ND) Hub is divided into colour labelled sections:

  • red section tells you about the ND Profiling Tool
  • blue sections cover the nine areas of the Profiling Tool
  • green sections are other areas of need that may come up in your Profiling Tool guided conversation
  • orange sections have been developed to provide further information

This hub is most useful when used in conjunction with the profiling tool. This helps identified needs to be looked at in detail within the website areas. It is recommended to look at this in partnership between parents / carers and someone who knows the child / young person well.  If the child / young person can use the website themselves, it can be an empowering resource for them to learn about their needs and develop strategies to support them. 

To find out more and use the profiling tool and hub: 

Visit the Neurodiversity Hub

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