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SEND advice and guidance

Support for early years

How can you access EYFS support and who we support

Once a child enters reception our role extends to also support children who have been identified as having a specific developmental language disorder by a speech therapist.

All requests for support are reviewed at a fortnightly panel meeting where the panel decides:

  • if the criteria for the Communication and Interaction Team’s involvement has been met
  • if the criteria hasn’t been met but we could support through our traded, directly commissioned support role
  • if it isn’t appropriate for the Communication and Interaction Team at this time and which service may be able to meet the support need

Settings are then contacted to alert them of the decision and to discuss why the decision was made.

Read Devon’s graduated response to SEND support for EYFS.

What we do

The role and support we then offer is outcome led and tailored towards the child and the setting’s individual needs. Some settings prefer a single visit to review the strategies and provision in place while other more complex situations may require a number of supporting visits.

Initial visits typically involve meeting the supporting team to discuss progress, thoughts and concerns, observing the child in setting and (when possible) engaging with or alongside the child followed by verbal feedback to the supporting team. We are always happy to meet with parents during this visit to discuss their thoughts and wishes.

Support and advice often include:

  • raising awareness of how a child with ASC often presents with differences in the four key areas of:
    • interaction
    • processing information
    • communication
    • sensory processing
  • use of visual supports and where to place them
  • supporting transitions and change
  • adapting the physical and sensory environment to become an autism-friendly environment
  • communication to a child and supporting their voice
  • teaching play and supporting peer engagement
  • toileting

As well as direct contact with the children and in-setting staff support we also offer a variety of training opportunities including the 3 tiers of early years training for the Autism Education Trust:

  • Tier 1: Making sense of autism.
  • Tier 2: Good autism practice.
  • Tier 3: Leading good practice.

Information on when courses are being delivered can be found through Devon Education Services.

We also offer bespoke training on request that could target specific areas of need for your setting. Email for more information.

Some top tips for supporting autism in EYFS include:

  • using the child’s name and gaining attention before giving a direction
  • allowing at least seven seconds for a child to process before expecting a response (they may respond “no” before they have fully processed the expectation)
  • using routines to make the world predictable and concrete
  • being precise and clear with language and expectations, for example, “bricks in box” rather than “tidy up”, “hands down” rather than “don’t push”
  • saying things (and model) in the order they will occur, for example, “coat then outside”
  • supporting all expectations with visual cues either 3d or 2d (at the child’s eye level or below)
  • bringing activities from the floor up to a table and allowing children to stand or sit on chairs to engage (this can help support a variety of sensory needs)

For Communication and Interaction Team support in an early years setting, please use our new online early years Request for Access form and complete the parental consent form.