New for 2021!

With Chris Barson, Nick Sheffield, Richard Hirstwood and Carol Allen

5 March 2021 9.15am – 3.15pm

Why should I attend?

Are you new to working with Autistic Students?  Are you experienced but feel it’s time to examine and develop your practice?


This Autism Playday will feature several key areas of interaction:  Communication; Messy Play; Play and the Curriculum; Creating a Play Diet and Sensory Play. All the  presenters link theory to practice and combine this with their years of practical experience. This will truly be a mixed media day where you will have plenty of opportunities to interact whilst reflecting on your own practice.  You will leave energised with a toolkit of ideas to refresh and renew your work.


9.15 am Admissions and virtual tea/coffee to start the session!

9.20 am Welcome & introduction to agenda and outline of Zoom routines and protocol. 

9.25 am Warm-up session: Getting to know you!

9.30 am Session 1:  Communicationship! Getting the most out of play with the right interaction and communication style – Chris Barson

In this session, Chris explores:

  • Interaction – what’s the best fit for autism?
  • Going visual! – harnessing the communication strengths in autism
  • Let’s talk feelings and emotions

10.10 am  Follow-up Task: Break Out Room

10.25 am Let’s get messy! Julie Cowpe-Stephens & Helen Dillon 

11.05 am Follow-up Task: Chat Task

11.10 am COFFEE BREAK  

11.35 am Session 2: ‘Oh forget it, just let them play!’ – Nick Sheffield

Ever wondered about whether or not you should have a session called play on your timetable? Concerned that Mr and Mrs Ofsted will come knocking and ask about how you teach play? Or is play just an cute EYFS thing? We will talk the serious business that is play, the art of teaching your curriculum playfully and having play as the bed rock of your learning interactions.

12.15 pm Follow-up: Break Out Room Task 

12.30pm LUNCH

1pm Welcome back!

1.05 pm Session 3: Can I tempt you? – Carol Allen

Our students often fixate on certain types of play or specific play activities.  These form a safe place of predictable pleasure.  Whilst respecting the need for this; the session will consider different types of play that might form part of daily life.  Is it possible to create a play diet?  What would a taster menu of play activities look like?  Should we move learners beyond their comfort zone when play is involved?  

1.40 pm Follow-up: Practical Task

1.50pm Session 5: Sensory Magic – Richard Hirstwood

Autisitic students can have strong attraction and avoidance strategies to sensory stimuli.  Understanding how to provide sensory experiences in a controlled and precise manner will increase engagement/learning and can support self regulation.

2.30pm Competition Time!

2.35 pm Session 4:  Ideas, Ideas, Ideas! – Chris Barson, Richard Hirstwood, Nick Sheffield & Carol Allen.

This quickfire session will involve all presenters who will share top tips and resources that they have found effective.

This will also include Q and A  (Delegates to put questions in chat so that any unanswered live can be followed up after the session)

3.10pm What’s next? Reminder of continuing CPD activities/ future collaboration/ reflective practice/ further resources/ contact details.

3.15pm Thank you and end of session!

Who should attend?

This will be appropriate for classroom practitioners from special schools and colleges, mainstream settings with specialist SEN provision and early years settings, who are working with pupils with autism.



Any resources shared/signposted during the session (i.e. during Zoom chat) will be emailed to delegates as a pdf after the session.



If you wish to make a group booking for this course – we can do this quickly and easily for you!  Please email a spreadsheet with the first name/surname/email addresses of the delegates you wish to book for.  This should go to  We will then create access to this course for your colleagues.  A Purchase Order Number will secure your booking and we can send you an invoice.

Important information before you book


The ‘Book now!’ button will take you to a new page where you can book and pay for this course.  Please note: if you are booking for someone else, please create the account using their name and email address.  You will still be able to pay by credit card (even it has a different name/school name on it.)

Cost: £75 plus VAT per place

(£90 including VAT)