What is the Graduated Approach to Autism?

The ‘Graduated Approach’ is what educational settings (schools, early years, or post-16 providers) should put in place to support a child or young person who has a special educational need (SEN).  The SEND Code of Practice 2015 [PDF 3.2MB] gives guidance for all settings on taking a ‘graduated approach.’ This helps to identify and support children and young people with SEN.

The graduated approach has 4 stages: Assess, Plan, Do and Review. The ‘Assess, Plan, Do, Review’ cycle [PDF 152KB] is the way education settings plan support for children/young people with SEN.

The child’s and their family's views should be prioritised and carefully considered during the cycle.

The ‘Assess, Plan, Do, Review’ cycle can happen as many times as needed to help the child or young person progress. Some children or young people will show good progress after the first round of support. Other children/young people might need more than one cycle to make progress.

Involving specialists

If a child isn't making expected progress, specialists should be asked to help. Depending on the needs of the child these may include:

The decision to involve specialists should be made by the educational setting, in partnership with the child's parents.  However, if the educational setting does not involve a specialist, referrals can be made through the families GP. 

If following the involvement of specialist support the child is still not making progress, the education setting can make a referral for an autism assessment.

The universal level of supporting children’s sensory processing needs is the first level of service for all families, schools and professionals to access. It provides parents, carers and professionals with knowledge, ideas and strategies to support your child or young person with sensory needs that may be impacting on their everyday life. This information can be found on the Supporting Children with Sensory Processing Needs webpage.

Page last reviewed: 27/10/2023

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