The Department is committed to meeting the needs of children and young people on the autism spectrum and supporting their learning and development. The Department provides a range of educational options.
Given the diversity of children and young people on the autism spectrum, no single approach will cater for all students. Early childhood settings and schools use a range of approaches and resources to understand and plan for individuals, establish programs that address the unique learning, social and behavioural needs and provide access to the support services they require.
Early childhood supports
Examples of supports available for children prior to school age include:
Early Childhood Intervention Services
Early Childhood Intervention Services (ECIS) support children with a disability or developmental delay from birth to school entry and their families. For more information, see:
Early Childhood Intervention Services
Early Childhood Intervention Service Flexible Support Packages
Early Childhood Intervention Service Flexible Support Packages (ECIS FSP) support children with a disability or developmental delay from birth to school entry, along with their families and carers. ECIS FSP provide additional services and supports not usually available through universal or ECIS services.
Services are tailored to meet the individual needs of the child and to provide support to the family to optimise their child’s development and ability to participate in family and community life. For more information, see: Flexible Support Packages
Kindergarten Inclusion Support Packages
The objective of Kindergarten Inclusion Support Packages is to build the capacity of funded kindergartens to support the access and participation of children:
The support from the Kindergarten Inclusion Support Packages is in addition to the existing resources available to the kindergarten staff and may not provide full coverage of all costs.
An inclusive kindergarten fosters the development of a sense of belonging and respects individuality and diversity, in order to promote learning, development and well-being in a child's early years. For more information see:
Kinder Inclusion Support Packages
Support in schools
Examples of supports available for students on the autism spectrum in Victorian government local neighbourhood schools include:
Autism Friendly Schools
A three year project, involving fifteen schools from across the State, provided the education system with a range of models and learnings to assist all schools to strengthen their inclusive environments.
The key learning from the project was that while each Autism Friendly Learning school will be different, as they respond to local need, utilise local knowledge and expertise and plan for the goals of their students and school community, the following essential elements will need to remain constant:
- a focus on the child and young person first
- leadership from the Principal and Leadership Team
- promotion of inclusion at a whole-school level, ensuring that inclusive values are consistent school-wide
- provision of coordinated extensive professional development, aiming to improve the capability of all staff to support students on the autism spectrum
- provision of channels for meaningful communication and collaboration between all people associated with the support and education of the student on the autism spectrum with an emphasis on parents and families
- continual review and implementation of evidence-based pedagogy and curriculum
- demonstrated consideration of the physical/aesthetic elements that constitute an ASD friendly environment.
All Victorian government schools have access to the resources and learnings that this project delivered, through the Department’s Autism Friendly Learning website. For more information, see: Working with families
The Department has seven ASD specialist schools. Students who are eligible for support under the ASD category of the PSD may be eligible to enrol in one of these schools:
Students on the autism spectrum who also have an intellectual disability may also be eligible to enrol in a special school or special developmental school.
For many children and young people on the autism spectrum, school placement to meet their academic and support needs is their local mainstream school. For most of these students, their additional learning needs can be managed by the school in consultation with their student support group within the school's existing resources.
Student support service officers are also readily available to work with schools. These services include psychologists, social workers, youth workers, speech pathologists, and visiting teachers. Student support service officers have specialist expertise and can assist schools with identifying the needs of individual students and the educational adjustments they may require.
A number of regions and school networks also provide specialist ASD visiting teachers. Further information about the range of supports available at your local school is available from the school principal or from your regional disabilities coordinator, see:
Program for Students with Disabilities
The Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD) provides additional resources to government schools to support delivery of educational programs for eligible students in the categories of physical disability, visual impairment, severe behaviour disorder, hearing impairment, intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder, and severe language disorder with critical educational needs. For more information, see:
Handbook and guidelines