Education, support and research for early years autism

A Typical Day

Children may attend morning sessions from 9.45 until 12.15 (with parents returning at 12 to speak to staff) or afternoon sessions on a Thursday from 1.15 until 3.45 (with parents returning at 3.30 to speak to staff). In addition some children may stay on for a packed lunch and the afternoon on a Monday, Tuesday or a Wednesday – until 2.45 (parents returning at 2.30).
Puzzle uses the SCERTS model (more information) to inform the assessment and input for the children attending the centre, and to guide support for families and carers. During sessions, children will receive one to one teaching/therapy under the direction of the Specialist Teacher, and/or the Speech and Language Therapist. In addition, either the Speech and Language Therapist, Occupational Therapist or the Teacher will lead the small group sessions. Learning Assistants are trained to work one to one with children in both structured activities using behaviourist principles and more interactive/naturalistic play sessions.
The full range of curriculum areas appropriate for an early years setting will be offered. An environment that promotes learning for this particular group of children will be created by controlling the overall level of stimulation, adopting a communication-based curriculum, pacing activities to teach attention and group learning skills and working from the child’s interests.


9.45am. (or 1.15pm.)
saying ‘hello’ to adult who will be greeting child and parent. Hanging up coat on own peg. Child is encouraged to ‘self-register’ by placing own photo on Puzzle picture. Adult ensures visual timetable or object cues are used from start of session. Use of PECS and other means of communication are actively planned for and adult language is pitched to match the level of understanding for each child.

Choosing Time

choice of play activity covering the EYFS curriculum including – construction play, small representational, home corner, puzzles, threading, shape number or colour activities, in main teaching room. Child may also choose to go outside to play (in the garden, covering the EYFS curriculum, mirroring the activities available inside, but also including large trampoline, climbing equipment, bikes and scooters), or in our soft tarmac play area. Activities are linked to language theme for the week/half term. Each child has one to one support from an adult.
Children follow their visual time tables to do the following activities (but may be in a different order) in groups

Circle Time

generally led by specialist teacher, speech and language therapist, or occupational therapist – using Attention Autism approach to develop shared attention, listening and language skills as well as social interaction skills in a small group. The language/curriculum theme for the week will be explored using songs and simple activities/tasks for the whole group to participate in.

Drink and Snack Time

lots of communication and social skills to learn, and self-care skills encouraged at Toilet and Washing Hands Time

Physical Play Activity -in Soft Play Room

Play and Communication Activities

in messy playroom– one structured adult-led activity using our core vocabulary and then choice from no more than 3 activities on offer which will include such things as: painting, cutting and sticking, play dough, water, sand.

Work Activity 

pre-planned individual activities, breaking each child’s individual Education Plan targets into small steps (planned by Specialist Teacher and Speech and Language Therapist). Where developmentally appropriate these are usually table top activities – each child is taught by a member of the staff team, one to one, who will then write up the child’s responses to the tasks.


led by specialist teacher, speech and language therapist or occupational therapist – short, simple story or interactive story with visual aids to help understanding. Goodbye Song/choosing a song
Parents return and spend time talking to Puzzle staff about the morning’s activities. A home/school book will go between home and Puzzle and, in addition, parents are welcome to ‘phone to speak with any member of staff at the centre.
When children stay for lunch followed by an afternoon session they will experience a music session and a movement/relaxation session and may also carry out a cookery or gardening activity.