Communication and interaction

More about how young people communicate, work and play with others and where to find support.

Communication challenges

Children and young people can face social and communication issues. They might find it hard to interact with others. This is called Social Communication Difficulties (SCD) and is common with Autistic Spectrum Conditions (ASC).

Understanding and adapting to different social situations can be challenging. They may find difficulty with flexible thinking. Additionally, they could face sensory challenges.


Signs of difficulty

You or your child’s teachers may notice some indicators that your child needs support, such as:

  • difficulty understanding social situations and responding to environmental (for example sights, sounds) and social (for example body language, tone of voice) cues
  • difficulty sensing other's feelings and intentions
  • difficulty establishing and maintaining friendships
  • rigid thinking and tendency to follow a personal agenda
  • difficulty with unstructured situations and change in routines
  • preference for participating in their own interests or repetitive activities
  • difficulty with language use such as sarcasm or idioms
  • difficulty transitioning between activities
  • sensitivity to sensory differences
  • poor social timing
  • lack of empathy
  • lack of awareness of personal space
  • difficulty maintaining appropriate eye contact
  • lack of social conversation skills
  • solitary play and unusually focussed special interests
  • health and personal care issues.

The young person can show very unusual behaviour. This might be obsessive, challenging or withdrawn. They may use inappropriate language, have odd responses to senses or show signs of distress. You may need to make big adaptations to manage these issues.

Support for your child at school

  • Involvement with the Autism and Social Communication Team.
  • Effective liaison between home and school - communication books, regular email feedback and so on.
  • Awareness and meeting of child's pastoral care needs.
  • Use of whole class strategies such as using visual timetables.

Most children with SCD or ASC get their special needs met in regular classrooms.

However, some struggle more than their peers to make progress. This happens when their difficulties impact their learning, despite school efforts. The challenges are obvious and severe. They include serious problems with language, inflexible behaviour, social and communication issues, and sensory sensitivities.

More information

Schools can use the following resources for detail about further measures to put in place: