1st Edition

Supporting Autism and Social Communication Difficulties in Mainstream Schools A Guidebook for ‘The Man-Eating Sofa’

By Plum Hutton Copyright 2022
    80 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Speechmark

    This guidebook is designed to be used alongside the storybook The Man-Eating Sofa (for 8-12 year-olds). Written in an engaging and accessible style, chapters explore the educational, social and psychological impact of autism and social communication and interaction difficulties (SCID). Strategies are provided to help parents and practitioners recognise and support these issues in the school environment. A chapter-by-chapter exploration of The Man-Eating Sofa provides an opportunity to generate discussion and facilitate understanding of autism and SCID amongst young people and adults who might not have considered the impact of social communication difficulties upon day-to-day life.

    Key features include:

    • an accessible introduction to autism and SCID
    • discussion points for use with The Man-Eating Sofa, to accompany young people’s reading of the story
    • strategies are provided to support the education, mental health and wellbeing of young people who find social communication, interaction, sensory processing and emotional regulation challenging in mainstream educational settings.

    This is an essential resource to help parents, teachers and professionals understand and support pupils who are autistic as well as those who find social communication a challenge in the mainstream classroom.

    Introduction  A note on the Language used in this Guide  Synopsis of The Man-Eating Sofa  The Main Messages in The Man-Eating Sofa  Understanding Autism  Current Definition of Autism  DSM- 5 Criteria for Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder  Discussion of the Diagnosis  Prevalence  The Different Presentation of Autism in Girls versus Boys  Causes of Autism Spectrum Disorder  The Positives of Autism  The Psychological Impact of Autism  Anxiety  Low Mood and Poor Self-Esteem  The Impact on Parents and Family Relationships  Using The Man-Eating Sofa to Promote discussion  Supporting Autism/SCID in School  Understanding Dysregulation  Sensory Processing  Anxiety  Supporting Low Mood  Obsessions/Enthusiasms/Passions  Social Communication and Interaction  Cognition and Learning  Additional Resources  Conclusion  References


    Plum Hutton is a chartered educational psychologist and former learning support teacher. She holds a doctorate in educational psychology. She has more than 15 years of experience working as a local authority educational psychologist and latterly has transferred to independent practice. Through her work she has pursued and delivered training on many areas of professional interest, including supporting children with persistent anxiety, attachment difficulties, literacy difficulties and sensory processing differences.

    Plum is a keen storyteller. She has gathered inspiration for her writing from her work, the challenges of parenthood and also through a nomadic existence as an Army wife, which has taken her to many locations across the UK and as far afield as East Africa.

    "This guide is very helpful for all professionals, particularly teaching staff and parent/carers in their role in how best to support autistic children and young people. It is based on research evidence, providing clear and pragmatic strategies."

    Karin Twiss, Senior Educational Psychologist and Strategic Lead for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Conditions


    "As with her superb ‘dyslexia’ package, Dr Hutton again excels in bringing clarity to an important psychological concept. In this book, it is understanding autism, a condition that needs this clarity as so many children and families across our society are impacted by it. Plum Hutton makes the learning process dynamic, and understood within a real context, using a delightful story that children (8-12 years) and families will enjoy. The first parts of the story reflect the ‘too frequent’ and unnecessary challenges that many autistic children and their families will likely have experienced before gaining the necessary support and understanding. The story is positive and upbeat, and the experience of reading it, particularly with the activities and ideas [in the guidebook], promotes the compassion, understanding, thought and optimism that are such key ingredients for supporting and embracing neurodiversity."

    Caro Strover, Educational Psychologist