Education, support and research for early years autism


Children with autism (ASD) or other communication difficulties need to have aspects of the curriculum presented to them in a way that takes account of their unique learning styles. This means, especially in the early years, that methods and approaches which may be appropriate for typically developing children will not necessarily help children with ASDs to access learning opportunities in the same way.

Curriculum plans at the Puzzle Centre reflect a balance between the unique needs of each individual child and the broad and balanced requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum. Topics and activities planned for Autumn 2016 are detailed in our nursery newsletter with core vocabulary

The environment at Puzzle Centre is organised to promote learning for young children who have complex communication difficulties by controlling the overall level of stimulation, adopting a communication based curriculum, pacing activities to teach attention and group learning skills and using each child’s particular interests to extend and develop their learning.

Well established practice in the field of autism, communication and learning difficulties, special education and early childhood education is used to help each child to develop.

The National Autism Plan (2003) states that educational programmes that have tended to be most effective for young children with autism are those that:

  • Build on a child’s interest
  • Offer a predictable schedule
  • Develop joint attention, communication and social understanding
  • Teach tasks as a series of simple steps
  • Reinforce appropriate behaviours
  • Make use of visual strategies to help understanding
  • Involve parents

Puzzle Centre provision uses all of the above strategies to help children to learn. We use a range of educational approaches, including the SCERTS educational programme (www.scerts.org), to address the very particular needs of children with social communication and autism spectrum disorders.

The National Autism Plan also states that targeted interventions should begin as early as possible. Puzzle is committed to providing the earliest possible specialist intervention for children with social and communication difficulties.

At the same time, Puzzle Centre enables children with autism spectrum disorders and other communication difficulties to access all aspects of the Early Years Foundation Stage. It is the unique interplay between enabling children to access experiences and learning that all children should have whilst, alongside this, catering for their different and particular needs and learning styles, by using specialist methods and approaches, that distinguishes the curriculum and teaching approaches used at Puzzle from most other Early Years settings.