1st Edition

All About Autism: A Practical Guide for Primary Teachers

By Lynn McCann Copyright 2023
    144 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Speechmark

    144 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Speechmark

    All About Autism is an accessible and informative guide for primary school teachers, designed to increase their knowledge and understanding of autism and enhance their toolkit with practical, adaptable strategies to support autistic children in their care.

    The book initially explores key traits and terminology, debunks myths and misconceptions, and shines a light on the strengths and abilities of autistic learners. It then introduces readers to a range of easy-to-implement ideas for practice and concrete solutions to provide further support, all with the child at the heart. All About Autism includes:

    • Practical strategies tailored to the primary key stages with current research broken down into easily digestible chunks
    • Guidance on a range of topics, from the importance of play for developing communication and supporting sensory needs to building peer relationships and social awareness for all
    • Strategies to create an autistic-friendly environment and teach in a way that caters to students with different ways of learning
    • Advice for helping autistic learners with problem solving and managing demands, tests and bridging the gap between primary and secondary school
    • Easy to dip in and out of chapters with signposting to further research, resources and support

    Taking a celebratory approach, the guide focuses on difference rather than deficit and weaves together the voices of autistic children and parents alongside practical examples of what high-quality and adapted teaching should look like. It will be essential reading for all primary school educators, SENCOs and parents who are supporting autistic learners, aged 4-11.





    What we know about autism

    Co-occurring conditions

    Language is important


    Part 1

    How I do things differently - The voice of autistic children

    • Communication
    • Stimming
    • Social interaction
    • Masking
    • The autistic sensory experience

    Part 2

    Teaching autistic children: practical strategies

    • Getting it right from the start
    • The classroom environment
    • The Classroom layout in the Early Years
    • The Classroom layout in the Lower Primary Years
    • Additional environment adaptations in Upper Primary classrooms
    • Organisation and routines
    • Executive Functions and autism
    • Structure and Predictability
    • Visual communication
    • Visual timetables
    • Other ways of using visuals to support communication
    • Early Years visuals
    • Useful verbal communication
    • Teaching the Curriculum
    • Motivation
    • The Early Years Curriculum
    • The Primary curriculum
    • Writing
    • Assessments, class tests and exams
    • Supporting behaviour that concerns
    • The role of teaching assistants
    • Social support
    • Playtimes
    • Bullying
    • Emotions and anxiety support
    • Meltdowns and shutdowns
    • Transitions

    Part 3

    Further resources and links



    Lynn McCann has been a teacher for 32 years and in that time has worked as a mainstream teacher, SENCO and for eight years was a class and outreach teacher in an autism specialist school. She set up Reachout ASC in 2014 after realising that there was a great need for good, practical, specialist support in mainstream schools. It is an independent service that specialises in autism, ADHD and PDA support, with children’s voices at the heart of all they do.  

    "In this book, Lynn really speaks to teachers, recognising the lack of initial training to support the positive teaching of autistic children, but also the crucial part teachers and para-professionals can play in supporting autistic children to thrive. What makes this book a ‘must read’ is its focus on autistic voices, which brings examples to life and the fact that the practical strategies offered for primary schools can be immediately put into practice." – Nicola Crossley, CEO NAS Academies Trust and National SEND representative for ASCL

    "Lynn recognises that knowing how best to meet autistic students’ needs may often feel daunting, particularly in busy, demanding classrooms. As a specialist teacher, Lynn’s desire to bring out the best in every pupil, matches that of her readers. Here she shares her wealth of knowledge and experience of supporting autistic students, providing highly practical, tried-and-tested, ‘lived-experience’ advice and examples, relevant for teachers, school support staff, as well as consulting professionals, including Educational Psychologists, SLTs and OTs. This resource also offers an easily accessible update on current thinking around autistic experiences, developing a wider understanding of Neurodiversity within education, and further helping to reduce the Double Empathy gap" – Lisa Chapman, Lead Speech and Language Therapist at BeeU: Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services, Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

    "This is a book that should be in every staff room. It’s clarity and plethora of practical easy to implement strategies will enhance teachers’ inclusive practice. It is also a bible for understanding Autism in current times." – Sally Glossop, Lead for the Graduated Response Herts county council

    "Lynn's dedication to making the world a better place for autistic people shines through this book from every page. This, combined with her understanding of what it is like to be a teacher in a busy classroom with a million things on your to-do list already, makes this book a super practical guide. If you want to do better by the autistic children in your classroom then this is the book for you." – Joanna Grace, Sensory Engagement and Inclusion specialist and Founder of The Sensory Projects. 

    "Lynn’s research and work with autistic people has once again informed her excellent books. The work with autistic young people, doing ‘what’s right for me’ is outstanding in achieving best practice for those young people and beyond to their families and classmates. I would recommend both the primary and secondary editions to inform and enable all school staff to fully understand and support the young people in their care." – Dawn Brown, SEND Assistant Head, Hertfordshire

    "School staff generally receive such little training about autism that becoming an expert in teaching autistic pupils may seem out of reach. This brilliant book provides a solution, with clear explanations of autistic differences and potential barriers to learning, plus multiple strategies to support autistic children in school. What makes it so special, however, are the quotes and diversity of experiences that Lynn shares. These evidence autistic pupils as unique and neurodivergent, not disordered, and encourage practitioners to see the power of their curiosity and care as the route to helping these children thrive." – Ruth Moyse, Director and Associate Consultant, AT-Autism

    "What do we do when faced with a class of children who don’t learn how we teach? A question posed as you start reading that resonates. With an increasing number of our children being diagnosed with Autism, teachers are seeking more support on how to help. Reading this book will develop your understanding around the real challenges autistic children may be faced with daily. As you read, you will become more aware of how topics such as bullying, sensory differences, communication and engaging with the curriculum can affect even our youngest children. A section on ‘masking’ is useful when discussing concerns raised by parents. The voice of autistic children has been captured and it is their perspective alongside the deeper understanding gained that encourages reflections on current practice and an eagerness to think differently about how some lessons and the school day may be presented to our children." – Julie Osbaldeston, Deputy Headteacher and SENDCo, Freshfield Primary School 

    "As an autistic children's occupational therapist, specialising in neurodivergent affirming practice I spend a great deal of time supporting autistic children, their parents and teachers. I have followed Lynn's work via social media interactions for a number of years and know how valued her input is to the autistic and educational communities. This book feels so appropriate for the time, where Primary SENCOs, Inclusion Leads and pastoral staff need to know quickly and effectively how to support neurodivergent children to build healthy foundations for not only their educational outcomes but mental health and wellbeing." – Holly Sprake-Hill, Neurodivergence Specialist, Sparkle Occupational Therapy

    "This wise and practical book approaches autistic pupils with kindness and curiosity, clear in the knowledge of what you need to do in early years and primary education. It not only shares the perspective of autistic children using the experiences of autistic people and children Lynn has worked with, but also combines that with the understanding of an advisory teacher who has worked in a range of different phases and settings. If you are looking for specific strategies to use, whilst understanding WHY that approach is more likely to work, this book is a wonderful place to start." - Sarah-Jane Critchley, Author, Speaker, Consultant and Coach, Different Joy Partnership