Activate Learning celebrates World Autism Acceptance Week  

Autism Acceptance Week 2024

World Autism Acceptance Week 2024 runs from Monday 2 to Sunday 8 April.  

Championed by the National Autistic Society, the week aims to raise vital funds, increase acceptance and create a society that works for autistic people.  

This year’s theme is colour. 

On this webpage, you can learn more about: 

  • What is autism? 
  • World Autism Acceptance Week activities and events at college   
  • What can we do to support people including my classmates with autism?      
  • What support do we offer autistic students at college?    
  • Local autism support groups 
  • Local autism support groups in Oxfordshire 
  • Local autism support groups in Berkshire 
  • Local autism support groups in Surrey 
  • Learning more about autism through books, film and TV   

What is autism? 

Autism is defined by the National Autistic Society as ‘a lifelong developmental disability which affects how people communicate and interact with the world. 

‘More than one in 100 people are on the autism spectrum and there are around 700,000 autistic adults and children in the UK.’ 

World Autism Acceptance Week activities and events at college 

As Autism Acceptance Week falls in the Easter half term, there will be a variety of inclusive activities events across Activate Learning to celebrate the week from Monday 25 to Thursday 28 March. 

Bracknell and Wokingham College 

Bracknell and Wokingham College are encouraging student to wear blue. On Monday 25, Bracknell’s SEND Youth Forum will be on campus between 11:30am–14:30pm.

Merrist Wood College 

On Monday 25 and Tuesday 26 March we will be joined by South West Surrey Information Service who are keen to promote their services that signpost individuals and their families to a wide network of support.

Tom and Rachel, South West Surrey Community Connectors, will be in the Harris Centre from 12–13:30pm on both of these days so please come and talk to them to pick up information around local support groups, financial and emotional support.

Learning Environments 

In our Learning Environments, we will offer:  

  • Chris Packham autism documentaries playing on big screens
  • Quiet hour each day with wildlife footage and soft music on loop 
  • VR/3D footage demonstrating life with autism  
  • Colour activities – the effects of colour alongside book displays with sympathetic colours
  • Cards and colouring to make Easter/Spring cards to be sold (via QR codes to charities or Activate Learning shops) for fundraising
  • Templates for postcards for neurodivergent students to say what helps them and support messages from neurotypical students
  • PC Vs Mac poster. “…autism is like running on Windows while everyone else is a Mac.”

What can we do to support people including my classmates with autism?    

There’s plenty we can do. First, we need to be informed and considerate of our peers.  

What support do we offer autistic students at college?  

There is a variety of support for autistic students at Activate Learning.  

With autism being such a huge spectrum, and students presenting very differently, it is important that the support we offer is student-centred and tailored to individual needs. This means that no one size fits all.  

The support we offer to autistic students is done through one of the following:  

  • Our Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC) centres   
  • Our Foundation and Supported Studies provision within Lifeskills  
  • Group Learning Support (for students accessing mainstream provision and Lifeskills courses, but not students at the ASC centres 

ASC centres at Activate Learning  

Students accessing our ASC centres first come to Activate Learning via the EHCP panel. An Education, Health and Care Plan is a legally binding document that highlights the support needed by young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), including the type of educational setting they attend.   

The EHCP allows us to put together a bespoke programme, tailored to each student’s interests. We work collaboratively with the local authorities and other professionals, such as Occupational Therapists or Educational Psychologists, to put a holistic package of support in place.   

We have a suite of centres at Banbury, Bracknell, Oxford and Reading, where students have a dedicated space away from the hustle and bustle of the main buildings, with everything tailored to their needs.  

Students have a high level of learning support from an ASC LSA (Autism Spectrum Condition Learning Support Assistant) and they may stay supported by the Centre form one to three years, if appropriate. 

Students at the ASC Centre usually progress on to Lifeskills or Group Learning Support. Some also progress to supported employment or work experience (in college or outside college).  

If you want to know more about the ASC centres or if you have any questions, please get in touch with:  

Supporting autistic students in our mainstream provision  

When a student, whatever their age, applies to join a programme of study at Activate Learning, they are asked to declare if they have a learning difficulty or disability, including ASD or dyslexia, for example. 

We ensure that students and their parents, if applicable, are fully involved in the process of developing and implementing a package of support.   

Knowing this information from the outset means that we can develop support plans in readiness for the start of the academic year. This information, the EHCP and associated learning outcomes are stored in Pro Monitor. This enables us to keep the information up to date and to share it with any tutors who may need access to it, so they can differentiate the lessons for the students, if needed.   

Although some autistic students may be what it’s called high functioning and may not outwardly struggle, they may still require support to thrive. For example, they may struggle to interpret body language, which makes up 80% of our communication and which can have a huge impact on them being able to operate socially. Or they may struggle with sensory elements, including noisy environments.    

Some autistic students may have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), while others may not. The support offered reflects our learners’ needs and may include several teams across Activate Learning, such as study coaches, one-to-one support and specialist tutors to provide in-class support, as well as specialist support from commissioned services from Speech and Language Therapists and Occupational Therapists. 

Autism support groups online and in Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Surrey

Here you’ll find a selection of nationwide, online and county specific autism support groups in Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Surrey.  

Autism support groups  

Autism support clubs online 

Autism support groups in Berkshire 

Support for individuals with autism in Berkshire: 

  • Autism Berkshire – support and activities for autistic people and their families  
  • The Autism Group – a variety of clubs in Maidenhead 
  • Autism Mentors – a support group to help neurodiverse people and their families with practical guidance, information and resources on a variety of topics including anxiety and emotional regulation, as well as sensory needs. 
  • Thames Valley Autism Alert Card – autism identification card available from Thames Valley Police free of charge to anyone living in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Milton Keynes who has an autism diagnosis 

Autism support groups in Oxfordshire 

Support for individuals with autism in Oxfordshire: 

Autism support groups in Surrey  

Support for individuals with autism in Surrey:  

Learning more about autism through books, film and TV 

There is a wonderful selection of books, film and TV series and documentaries to inform us about autism.  

Non-fiction and fiction books about autism  

This collection of non-fiction and fiction books about autism will help you better understand life on the spectrum. 

You can borrow many of these books from the college Learning Environments or read books about autism online. 

You can also read some of these titles on your phone or listen to them as audiobooks via the free BorrowBox app 

Non-fiction books about autism 

The following non-fiction books feature people on the spectrum. Many offer case studies or other biographical insight into being autistic.  

  • Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8: A Young Man’s Voice from the Silence of Autism by Naoki Higashida  
  • Leaders Around Me: Autobiographies of Autistics who Type, Point, and Spell to Communicate by Edlyn Peña  
  • Camouflage: The Hidden Lives of Autistic Women by Sarah Bargiela 
  • Born On a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant by Daniel Tammet   
  • All the Weight of Our Dreams: On Living Racialized Autism by Brown 
  • Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman 
  • Spectrums by Maxfield Sparrow   
  • Our Autistic Lives by Alex Ratcliffe 
  • Loud Hands: Autistic People by Autistic Self Advocacy Network 
  • Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism by Barry M. Prizant 

Fiction books about autism  

The following fictional books feature characters on the spectrum: 

  • Real by Carol Cujec and Peyton Goddard 
  • Can You See Me? by Libby Scott and Rebecca Westcott 
  • Planet Earth is Blue by Nicole Panteleakos 
  • The Boy Who Steals Houses by C.G. Drews 
  • On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis 
  • Underdogs by Chris Bonnello 
  • The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas 
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon 
  • Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine 
  • The Fog Within by Nick Shamhart 
  • Carry the Ocean by Heidi Cullinan 
  • Nothing is Right by Michael Scott Monje Jr. 
  • House Rules by Jodi Picoult 
  • Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork 
  • Hating Jesse Harmon by Robin Mimna 
  • The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion 
  • Please Don’t Hug Me by Kay Kerr 

Films with autistic characters 

The following films feature autistic characters and give an insight into life on the spectrum. 

  • Please Stand By 
  • A Brilliant Young Mind 
  • Snow Cake 
  • Little Man Tate 
  • ‘Temple Grandin’ 
  • The Boy Who Could Fly 
  • Nathan’s Kingdom 
  • A Boy Called Po  
  • Adam  
  • Mozart and The Whale 
  • I Am Sam  
  • The Other Sister  
  • What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?  

TV shows with autistic characters  

The following TV shows and documentaries feature autistic characters and people.