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Communication and Interaction - Graduated Approach

Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND)

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Autism Spectrum and Social Communication

Speech, Language and Communication


Autism Spectrum and Social Communication


The SEND Code of Practice states:

6.29 Children and young people with …. autism are likely to have particular difficulties with social interaction. They may also experience difficulties with language, communication and imagination, which can impact on how they relate to others


This guidance covers children and young people who have social communication needs. It is not a “to-do” list in which everything has to be completed: it is a non-exhaustive menu of possible approaches. Teachers and SENCos -in consultation with children/young people, their parents/carers and relevant professionals- should use their professional judgement to decide the appropriate approaches to use to support a particular child or young person.


Not all children/young people who have social communication needs are autistic. They share some of the difficulties of children/young people who have an autism diagnosis and may also have other speech and language difficulties. They may not meet the criteria for an autism diagnosis. (See Trafford’s diagnostic pathway)

All children and young people who are on the autism spectrum- whatever their cognitive ability- have differences from their more typically developing peers in the areas of social communication and social interaction. Very able pupils will need Reasonable Adjustments made for them.

It should also be noted that autism may present differently in girls and women, and that girls’ autism may be under-recognised.

The National Autistic Society describes autism as “a lifelong, developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people and how they experience the world around them”.

The Autism Education Trust recognises 4 main areas of difference in autistic children and young people:  

  • Differences in their communication and interaction,
  • Differences in their social understanding,
  • Differences in their interests and information processing
  • Differences in their sensory processing.



Provision for children and young people with social communication needs and autism should reflect their need to develop social relationships and take in to account the increased risk to them of emotional and/or mental health problems. It may also include support to aid progress in related areas of learning. Intervention may include adapting the environment, individual support and providing Augmentative and Alternative means of Communication (AAC).


Trafford Council often uses the term Autism Spectrum Condition, ASC, rather than the medical diagnostic term, Autism Spectrum Disorder, ASD. In common with our training partners at Manchester Metropolitan University, we are aware of considerable current debate on this subject. However, the National Autistic Society’s research indicates that autistic people tend to prefer identity first language such as “autistic young person”, or alternatively, “on the autism spectrum”. These are the terms used in this guidance. (See )

Find out more:

Trafford's Graduated Approach: Autism and Social Communication

Autism and Social Communication Resources

Trafford's Graduated Approach to Assistive Technology


Speech and Language


The SEND Code of Practice states:

6.28 - Children and young people with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) have difficulty in communicating with others. This may be because they have difficulty saying what they want to, understanding what is being said to them or they do not understand or use social rules of communication.

The profile for every child with SLCN is different and their needs may change over time. They may have difficulty with one, some or all of the different aspects of speech, language or social communication at different times of their lives. 


Speech language and communication needs can affect pupils in many different ways.  Pupils can experience a speech sound disorder which may make their speech sound different, and, in some cases can make it so difficult to understand that it impacts on the pupil's ability to convey their message.  Dysfluency or a stammer can also affect how a pupil's speech sounds.  

Language difficulties can take many different forms: some pupils have difficulties understanding what they've heard, while others find it hard to construct sentences or retrieve the appropriate vocabulary item.  

Some pupils find it hard to use their language skills to communicate with others - their grammar and vocabulary may be fine, but they struggle to interact with others.  Older pupils may struggle with creative thinking skills like prediction and inference.  

As well as differing in kind, speech, language and communication skills may differ in severity.  Some pupils may experience a mild difficulty that can be managed through quality first teaching, while others with more significant difficulties may require group intervention from a package recommended by the SLT.  School staff would need to access training from the SLT department to be able to deliver the intervention package the pupil needs.

Pupils with more severe difficulties may require individual language targets once they have completed the group intervention.  Those pupils in mainstream schools with the most severe speech, language and communication needs, who are not making progress despite the intervention outlined above, may need to access the Language Outreach Service.


Find out more:

Trafford's Graduated Approach: Speech, Language and Communication Needs

Resources: Speech, Language and Communication Needs

Trafford's Graduated Approach to Assistive Technology

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