Difficult behaviour arises from unmet needs. It’s nothing to do with age, ability or disability – it’s to do with being human. Autistic people have a pattern of needs on top of the ordinary everyday needs that come with being a person. Often these extra needs are complex. That can make them hard to meet.

Course curriculum

  • 1


    • Introduction and course structure

    • Course outline

    • Your expectations of this course

  • 2

    Module 1: Autism and difficult behaviour

    • Introduction: Autism and difficult behaviour

    • A. Defining ‘difficult behaviour’

    • B. Behaviour – problem or not? When is behaviour a problem?

    • C. What ‘causes’ difficult behaviour?

  • 3

    Module 2: Communication and difficult behaviour

    • Introduction: Communication and difficult behaviour

    • A. Language needs

    • Communication Charts for Difficult Behaviour and Autism

    • B. Using visual supports

    • C. Teaching non-verbal communication skills

  • 4

    Module 3: Environment and difficult behaviour

    • Introduction: Environment and difficult behaviour

    • A. Why is environment so important for students on the spectrum?

    • B. Low arousal learning environments

    • C. Using sensory spaces

    • D. Self-regulation skills

  • 5

    Module 4: Support

    • Introduction: Support

    • A. Consistency

    • B. Support ‘style’

    • Downloads

    • C. Effective approaches/techniques

  • 6

    Module 5: Planning

    • Introduction: Planning

    • A. Need for Structure

    • B: Motivation and Special Interests

    • C. Calming activities and ‘Stims’

    • D. Positive Programmes

  • 7


    • Quiz

  • 8


    • Conclusion

    • Evaluation form


Hirstwood Training Associate – Autism Specialist

Chris Barson

Chris Barson founded Positive About Autism in January 2009. Prior to that, Chris was External Training Manager for the National Autistic Society. Chris has a long involvement with disability and autism. Chris first joined the National Autistic Society (NAS) in 1996 as a Project Officer in Wales on a Children in Need project reviewing short term care provision. After working with the NAS Regional Development Team promoting service development throughout the UK, Chris went to work at the Royal College of General Practitioners, in 2000, where he managed Professional Development and Quality programmes. Chris rejoined NAS in 2004. Chris has contributed to the design and delivery of courses provided by Canterbury Christ Church University, and the University of Cumbria. Chris is a contributing author to ‘The Autism Spectrum in the 21st Century: Exploring Psychology, Biology and Practice’ Jessica Kingsley Press 2010 (Highly Commended 2011 BMA Medical Book Awards).


Thank you to the staff, parents and children from the following schools for their enthusiasm and permission to let us film them in action!

Kemball School, Stoke on Trent, United Kingdom

Nelson Park School, Napier, New Zealand

Fairhaven School, Napier, New Zealand

Thank you to Glenwood School, Benfleet, United Kingdom for letting us share shots of their tremendous classrooms.