Most children with autism and communication and interaction needs do well at school, however some children may require a higher level of support.
If you have concerns about your child’s progress or inclusion, please discuss these with the school special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO).
If you are a teacher or other professional, please use our information for staff.
The Communication and Interaction Support Service
The Communication and Interaction service is part of Oxfordshire County Council's Special Educational Needs Support Services (SENSS).
We work with schools and settings to help children and young people with speech, language and communication needs and autism spectrum conditions make good progress, achieve well and enjoy school, family and community life.
We also provide advice, training and support to schools, families, parents and carers to help them meet the needs of children with autism and other differences in communication and interaction.
Our range of professionals includes:
- specialist advisory teachers
- advisory support workers
- resource base teachers
- teaching assistants
- social, emotional and mental health practitioners.
What we do
- We help staff to understand the needs of children and young people
- We assess and provide advice
- We work with schools to ensure the views and wishes of children and young people are reflected in their provision
- We support children and young people to develop a positive understanding of their needs or condition
- We make specialist provision for children with particular needs.
Three levels of support
We provide three levels of support.
Universal support - no referral is needed
- Support for all children with communication and interaction needs
- We will support school staff to develop understanding, awareness and advise on strategies and best practice
- We will support school staff to adapt the class environment, make suitable adjustments and put consistent support in place.
Targeted support – a referral is needed
- The child or young person will be on the SEN register. They may or may not have an education, health and care plan (EHCP).
- He or she will need more input and support to help them engage and thrive. This may include further advice and training, small group or individual support.
Specialist support – a referral is needed
- At this level a higher level of individual support is needed.
- Your child or young person may or may not have an education, health and care plan. They are struggling to learn and join in with other children
- At this level the specialist advisory teacher will have more involvement.
This will vary according to their needs, but your child may require support for personal organisation, understanding their own differences, engaging with the curriculum, building peer relationships, behaviour, anxiety, transition and so on.
The specialist advisory teacher will provide a report to guide school staff and school will send this report home to parents. They may attend meetings about your child to offer advice
If you want to meet with the specialist advisory teacher this can be arranged through the school
To receive specialist support, your child must be individually referred to the service after a conversation between the special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) and advisory teacher. Parental consent is not required but the school will inform and involve you if they are making a referral.
Support to your child will be provided by one or more of the following specialist staff
- specialist advisory teachers (SATs)
- advisory support workers (ASWs)
- social, emotional and mental health lead staff (SEMH lead)
For 5 years or under
The Puffin Programme
Purposeful Family Focused Intervention is a six-week course for schools, parents, carers and families who have a child aged 5 years or under on the autism spectrum or with similar communication and interaction needs.
This course is run by Early Years SEN inclusion teachers (EYSENITS)
For more information please download the Puffin information leaflet (pdf format, 169Kb).
For 5-12 years
School With Families Together (SWIFT)
Primary SWiFT is a six-week course for schools, parents, carers and families who have a primary school aged child on the autism spectrum or with similar communication and interaction needs.
Parents and school staff attend together to ensure they develop a shared understanding of the needs of the child and consistent strategies to support them at home and at school
This course is run by SENSS Communication and Interaction specialist advisory teachers and advisory support workers
For 12-16 years
Secondary SWiFT is a four-week course for schools, parents, carers and families who have a secondary school-aged child on the autism spectrum or with similar communication and interaction needs.
This course is hosted by the school and is run by SENSS Communication and Interaction specialist advisory teachers and advisory support workers
For more information please download leaflet the secondary SWiFT information leaflet (pdf format, 1.9Mb).
For 5-18 years
All Things Autism is a six-week course for parents, carers and families who have a child who has recently been diagnosed with autism. The course is delivered by Oxfordshire CAMHS and supported by the SENSS team, Speech and Language Therapy colleagues and other professionals from education and health.
For more information please download the All Things Autism information leaflet, 262Kb.
Autism Family Support Oxfordshire (AFSO) provides training for parents, carers, and families.
Resources to support children with SEN
Information and resources on autism
Speech, language and communication
- Sensory Issues in Autism (East Sussex Council) (pdf format)
- Sensory Differences Strategies - Autism Education Trust (pdf format, 166Kb)
- Sensory Profile - Autism Education Trust - (pdf format)
- Autism, change and transition - Autism West Midlands (pdf format)
- A guide to finding a school for your child with autism - Autism Education Trust (pdf format)
- Transition toolkit - Autism Education Trust (pdf format, 1.8Mb)
- Working together with your child’s school - Autism Education Trust
- SENSS Communication and Interaction transition work booklet (doc format)
- SENSS Communication and Interaction leaflet – Moving to Secondary School (pdf format, 82Kb)
Sleeping, toileting and eating
- Autism and sleep - Autism West Midlands (pdf format)
- Toilet training and Autism Spectrum Disorders -Kennedy Centre (pdf format)
- Food, Eating and Autism - Autism West Midlands (pdf format)
- Visual Supports - National Autistic Society)
- What are Visual Strategies - Autism Education Trust (pdf format)
Managing stress and anxiety
- Meltdown and shutdown in people with autism - Autism West Midlands (pdf format)
- An evidence based guide to anxiety in autism - City University (pdf format, 3.8Mb)
- A parents guide to bullying (NAS)
Puberty, sex and relationships
Most children with communication and interaction differences have their needs met in their local mainstream school.
Some children may need a more specialist setting, but are still able to follow the mainstream curriculum.
Communication and Interaction resource bases are part of Oxfordshire’s provision to meet the needs of these children and young people.
Transition to secondary school
Many parents feel that their child may not be successful in a mainstream secondary school even though they have been happy and making good progress in a mainstream primary school
For advice on successful transitions please download our Moving to secondary school information leaflet (pdf format, 155Kb) for parents
Frequently asked questions
Can a parent make a referral?
We do not accept referrals from parents.
The Communication and Interaction Support Service accepts referrals only from schools.
If you have concerns about your child please discuss these with the SENCO or class teacher, who will decide whether a referral is needed or whether his / her needs can be met through our universal offer. If they are not sure – they will also discuss your concerns with the SENSS C&I Advisory Teacher.
Can you accept referrals for all children?
We do not accept referrals for children whose primary need is learning difficulties, or in the area of social, emotional and mental health (SEMH)
Does my child need a diagnosis of autism to be referred to the service?
Your child does not need a diagnosis of autism to be referred to our service - we support children with a wide range of communication and interaction needs.
When is your service available?
Our service is available during school term time.
Does a child need an education, health and care plan (EHCP) to receive the service?
No. We work with children who receive special education needs support at school.