Autism and Social Communication

Cognus’ Autism Service is an education support service focusing on supporting pupils with social communication difficulties or a diagnosis of autism to access education.  We work with education settings including early years, primary and secondary schools and Post-16 settings.

Cognus’ Autism Service is a traded service, meaning that settings, individuals or local authorities can buy in support. This can include:

  • Advice for specific students/settings
  • One-to-one work with pupils,
  • Whole school/setting training
  • Planning/policy support
  • Workshops for parents
  • Support/audits to become a more autism-friendly school

Traded work is open to settings outside of Sutton and other organisations, as well as to parents.

General information

Local and national services and resources can be accessed via the Autism Support Map.  There are sections covering:

  • Resources for parents/carers
  • Resources for the young person
  • Resources for teachers
  • Resources to understand your diagnosis
  • Recreational activities for young people
  • Transition to secondary school

Autism Support Map Overview

Supporting young people to understand their autistic identity

We support Sutton schools to help young people to understand their autism diagnosis. We do this by providing training and ongoing support to school staff (generally ELSAs).  The training helps schools to offer support to young people to give them a basic understanding of difference, focusing on the fact that we are all different. The support looks at what autism is, other autistic individuals and what autism means to them.   This is the starting point for future discussions around autism.  The idea would be that the parents or school would continue the conversation on a regular basis.  The young person may need time to process the information and questions will no doubt come up at different times in their life.  Through this support, we aim to give them a positive starting point for understanding their diagnosis of autism.

To hear from Sutton young people about autism and what it means to them, watch this video:

Support for parents/carers:

Parents can access free workshops via our YouTube Channel. These cover a range of topics:

  • Understanding autism/social communication differences
  • Strategies to support communication
  • Problem solving behaviour
  • Sensory differences
  • Access to services
  • School strategies
  • Emotions and anxiety
  • Eating/sleeping
  • Using Zones of Regulation to support understanding of emotions
  • Explaining a diagnosis to your child

View the playlist here:

We also provide termly workshops which we advertise via our Facebook and Twitter pages:



Autism Advice Sessions

All Sutton schools can sign up for a 121 advice session to talk about a young person and get some new ideas or strategies. Sessions are on a monthly basis and you will be allocated a 30 minute slot at the next available time. To request a slot, please email

School Autism Champions/Leads

What is the Autism Champion/Lead role?

  • Half termly training specific to primary/secondary
  • Regular resource sharing
  • Top tips videos shared for them to pass on during staff meetings etc to all school staff

 Benefits of this role:

  • Disseminates best practice across the school in bitesize chunks
  • Creates additional capacity for Inclusion Teams in schools
  • Shadowing/CPD opportunities for staff

This year our School Autism Champions have covered:

  • maximising the adult’s communication
  • using visuals
  • social model of emotional wellbeing
  • social inclusion
  • sensory processing
  • supporting language and communication
  • Quality First Teaching
  • understanding an autism diagnosis

Please make the most of this role by supporting your staff to share their learning across your setting.  Feedback has included:

‘This has helped our school as I am able to pass on information to everyone on a regular basis. I am also using a lot of your work to deliver some staff training in the summer term to everyone, including support staff. The half termly meetings we get are extremely engaging and I have taken a lot away from them.’

‘By attending meetings with Cognus and receiving updates from you, it has meant that we have the most recent resources with which to support our pupils. In addition to this our ELSAs have also received training via Cognus and they too are now supporting children within the school.’

‘I feel the role of Autism Champion and the training has given me quality resources to share with staff and a person for staff to come to for advice and support. The teaching assistants have been given training, as well as teachers, which has empowered them and helped them realise that they have a key role in the support of autistic children in their classes because of the relationships they develop with the children and observations they can make when the teacher is teaching. Overall I think all staff have a better understanding of autism and about how small adjustments can make a huge impact for our autistic pupils.’

To book a place, please contact LBS CPDAdmin

Sutton Autism CPD Videos

It can be difficult to access information for all staff in your setting, so we have put together a variety of videos as part of our Autism Champions programme.  These range from 10 minutes to 1 hour, so can be shared in a variety of settings, such as staff meetings.

Topics include:

  • Understanding autism for school staff
  • Maximising communication
  • Using visuals to support processing
  • Understanding autism for your class (separate videos for KS2 up to Post 16)
  • Social inclusion
  • Understanding sensory processing and strategies to support
  • Supporting language and social communication through Quality First Teaching
  • Supporting a young person to understand their autism diagnosis

View the playlist here:

For more information about the Autism Service, please email

Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook for regular information and tips on autism and social communication.