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Education and Child Care (out-of-school care) (7-12 years)


This section includes practical information to help you work in partnership with your child’s school.

If you are looking for information and help on how to choose a school for your child, please see SWAN’s Early Years (0 to 6 years) booklet.

Education & The NDIS

Although the NDIS can fund a range of specialised supports for school aged children with a disability, it will not fund anything that should be the responsibility of the education system. Schools must continue to provide ‘reasonable adjustment’ for students with disability so that they can learn on an equal basis with other children.

The NDIS will fund allied health and other therapy supports such as speech therapy, occupational therapy and other allied health supports depending on what each child needs because of their disability. These can be provided at school.

The school will work with you to develop your child’s educational goals and create an Individual Educational Plan (IEP). Therapy plans should be consistent and directly related to the outcomes in your child’s IEP.

On the following page is a summary of what NDIS funds and what education systems can fund for children with disability.

NDIS funds:

  • Self-care at school related to the student’s disability, such as support with eating.
  • Specialised training of teachers and other staff about the specific personal support needs of a student with disability.
  • Specialist transport required because of the student’s disability (does not replace parental responsibility).
  • Transportable equipment such as a wheelchair or personal communication devices.
  • Therapies a family and school have agreed may be delivered during school time but are not for educational purposes.

Education systems fund:

  • Teachers, education assistants, and other supports e.g., Auslan interpreters.
  • General support, resources, and training for teachers and other staff.
  • Therapy delivered in schools for education or training purposes, such as allied health practitioners helping teachers and trainers adjust curriculums.
  • Aids and equipment to make curriculums accessible, such as modified computer hardware, software, Braille textbooks, other accessible information formats.
  • Adjustments to buildings such as ramps, lifts, accessible toilets, and hearing-loops.
  • Transport for educational or training activities such as excursions, field trips and sporting carnivals.
  • Day-to-day supervision of students at school, including behavioural support.

You can find more information on the NDIS website:

NDIS & School Education

Before School Starts

Starting school is a big step for any child, but there are a few things that can make it a smoother transition. Once you know which school your child will be going to, begin to familiarise them with the school and staff, practise skills that will help when they go to school, and talk a lot about the good things about going to school, including using social stories or a photo book. There is a section with lists of practical tips for preparing for school in the Early Years 0 to 6 years booklet.

Working With The School

Perhaps the most important factor when it comes to your child’s education is working in partnership with the school and its staff. An effective partnership involves good communication, sharing of knowledge, respect, and being able to work in different but complimentary ways towards a common goal.

Getting to know your child

By the time your child starts school, the teacher should have some detailed information about your child to help them understand the support your child needs, how to communicate with them, what interests and motivates them, their dislikes and triggers, and how to include them in the classroom. Teachers also need to know about any health issues and therapy goals.

You can help by putting together some information about your child. There are different ways of doing this. Some parents put together a booklet of information about their child, and some create a One Page Profile. This can be especially helpful when changing to a new class / new teacher / new school.

Whatever you choose to do, it needs to provide a picture of your child’s strengths, how they communicate, what they enjoy, what motivates them, and how they need and want to be supported.


It is really important to have regular, open communication between you and your child’s teacher and education assistant (if they have one), if you are going to have an effective partnership. You can share useful information, celebrate achievements and deal with small problems before they become big problems  This is especially important when your child is very young and/or doesn’t use speech to communicate.

Parents need to know what happened at school so that they can encourage their child to talk about the day, and liaise with therapists to address any issues. Teachers need to know if there is anything at home that is either something positive to talk about with your child or that might be affecting their learning.

Most parents and teachers find that a communication book between home and school is the easiest way to keep up two-way communication about daily details. You can just use a small school exercise book. Often the teacher will provide this, or you could supply one if preferred. It need only take a few moments for a teacher to write that it was a good day, to ask a question or report an achievement. Parents can write a quick thanks, let the teacher know their child could be tired, sad, excited for some reason or give other information that the teacher can use to chat with your child. Talk to your child’s teacher before or when school starts, and work out a system that works for everyone.

Here are some resources you might like to read in the lead up to your child starting school:

SWAN Early Years (0 to 6 years) booklet

Starting School – A Guide for parents of children with special needs in Western Australia.

DDWA Education

The Really Useful Starting School Book, from Down Syndrome WA.

Down Syndrome WA Resources

Individual Education Plans

The school will work with you to develop your child’s educational goals and create an Individual Educational Plan (IEP).

IEPs are sometimes called Individual Learning Plans, Personalised Learning Plans or other names depending on the school or school system. They can also look different, but they must contain all the information needed to ensure children with disabilities have an appropriate learning program to meet their individual needs. They are an action plan so they should be clear and easily understood by everyone involved..

What is in an IEP?

While each child is unique, your child’s IEP is likely to focus on some or all of the following:

  • Academic strategies and progress
  • Communication strategies and progress
  • Physical health and needs
  • Independence skills, including building capacity to study and engage in self-care
  • Socialisation skills and peer connection issues
  • General emotional well-being
  • Self-regulation and behaviour skills

IEPs contain information about your child, goals for your child’s learning and how the school will help your child work towards those goals; and the ‘reasonable adjustments’ the school will make to make sure your child has access to teaching, learning and the schooling experience generally.

What are reasonable adjustments? 

Teachers understand that children learn in different ways, and they adapt the teaching environment, the curriculum and materials and how they teach, to suit the child. These kinds of changes are called adjustments. By law, schools must make balanced and fair changes. These are known as reasonable adjustments. Your child’s adjustments should be included in their IEP.

The only reasons why schools may refuse to make an adjustment for a child with disability are that:

  • It would be too hard for the school,
  • It would be dangerous for people in the school, or
  • It would be against the law.

When schools choose adjustments, or when they refuse to make adjustments, they must explain their choice to the student and their family. If you disagree with the school’s decision, you can complain to the school’s education authority. You can also get advice on whether the school’s decision meets the Disability Discrimination Education Standards and seek advocacy help if you need to take action. Sussex Street Community Law Service is the disability discrimination lawyer in WA. Their services are free. Sussex Street Community Law

Who comes to IEP meetings?

IEP meetings, sometimes called case conferences, involve your child’s teacher, maybe their education assistant, the school’s learning support coordinator if they have one, and school administrator. A school psychologist and therapists who work with your child may also be present. Importantly, parents are involved in the discussion and decisions.

One or both parents can attend, and you can have another person with you if you wish. This could be a friend, family member or other person you trust to help you.

It’s important to prepare for these meetings to get the best IEP for your child.

  • Think about your overall vision for your child, to share with and help guide the school.
  • Think about some specific goals to go in the plan.
  • Decide on your ‘bottom line’. While you need to be firm about your vision, the school may want to negotiate on some details. You need to think about what, if any, compromises you are happy to make.
  • Gather all relevant documentation and information.
  • If you have a partner or other person with you, make sure you both know your goals for the meeting and the way you will approach discussions, so you are ‘on the same page’. Make sure any support person understands their role. You may just want moral support, or someone to take notes. You may want them to remind you or help with information as needed. Talk about their role beforehand so it is clear, and you can feel confident about their support.

You may be asked to sign a copy of the IEP at the end of the meeting to show you agree with it. It is reasonable to say you want a copy and a couple of days to read through it. You may find you want to ask questions or have further discussions before you agree to the IEP. You can also seek advice from an advocate or your child’s therapist before signing.

There are some useful resources to help you with the IEP process.

You can download these free:

Your Child’s IEP – Guide for Families from All Means All, the Australian Alliance for Inclusive Education. All Means All IEP Guide

Planning for Personalised Learning and Support, Education Department of WA. Department of Education – Planning for Personalised Learning & Support

Childcare & Out Of School Care

When you are looking for out of school care, you need to know the care provider can give your child the supports they need to be included and safe.

It is important to visit the centres you are considering and talk to key staff about your child, their strengths and where they need some extra support. Ask them:

  • How do they practice inclusion?
  • What do they do to help all children to participate and feel they belong?
  • What safety measures do they have?
  • What kinds of support can they provide? and
  • Will they need assistance to support your child?

Inclusion Support Program (ISP)

The ISP is a free service that helps childcare services to overcome barriers so that all children can be fully included. If an early education and care service feels they will need it, they can ask for extra support. The WA Inclusion Agency (WAIA) employs a team of Inclusion Professionals to provide tailored support and advice to early childhood education and care services. The childcare service sends WAIA a Request for Inclusion Support form, along with a signed parent permission form.

WAIA will then visit the childcare service and meet with staff and develop a strategic plan that sets out the best supports and actions that are needed to overcome the barriers to inclusion. Services can also apply for funding for extra staff and can borrow specialist equipment if it is needed. It is very important that childcare services keep families informed about the inclusion support they are providing. Families can talk to the service directly, and with the Inclusion Professional at the centre, or you can call the WAIA Helpline on 1800 119 247.

The ISP service is also available for after-school care and school holiday child care programs.

Things you can do

Here are some ways you can help the childcare service to be ready and have the information and skills they need to support your child:

  • Ask your child’s therapists to visit the centre to talk to staff, giving them information and some strategies they can use to support and communicate with your child.
  • Write out your child’s strengths and the areas where they need more support. You could do this as a One Page Profile (OPP) so that all staff can easily see the main information about your child. See here for further information on OPPs.
  • Use a communication book to help with everyday communication between home and the childcare centre.
  • Understand that it may take your child longer to settle in, so be prepared to spend more time there at first, or to pick up your child early.

Here are some things you can do to help your child get ready for childcare:

  • Go to the centre with your child just to visit, so they can meet people and see what happens there. Take some photos while you’re there, to look at and talk about later. You can ask the centre for photos of the staff who will be working with your child as well.
  • Talk with them about going to childcare and the fun things they will do.
  • Talk about the people there, using their names if you can, so they begin to feel familiar.
  • Talk about when they will go, who will take them and who will pick them up.

One Page Profiles

A one-page profile is a great way to communicate important information about a person all in one easy-to-find space.

You can use them in all kinds of settings to help support people of all ages. For example, you might create a child’s first one-page profile when they are just about to start going to childcare. Starting kindy, pre-primary or school are also good times to create or update your child’s profile.

Because the information is all on one page, this means that anyone reading it can quickly see what is most important to know about the person. The one-page profile is a good ongoing reference for teachers, child care workers, and other support staff, and helpful for new or relief staff so they don’t have to read lots of information before they can start their work.

Each one-page profile has the following categories of information in it:
• Name of the person
• What is important to me
• What people like and admire about me
• How I want to be supported

How to Make a One Page Profile

There are lots of downloadable templates you can use. You can make your own but be sure it has the same categories of information as we’ve listed above, as these have been shown over many years to be the most effective.

Sometimes parents/carers work by themselves to write their child’s profile. With a very young child, this is fine, and parents do know their children and the support they need well. But as your child gets older, it is better to ask other people who know them well to take part in writing the profile. You might be surprised that other people often add some very positive and useful information
that you might not have known or thought about. Older children and adults can either write their own or get help to create or contribute to their profile.

One-page profiles need to be updated regularly so that the information is current. It’s a good idea to put the date on the profile.

This website has lots of helpful information on creating a one-page profile:

One Page Profiles


Choosing a High School

This section includes the main things to think about when you are choosing a secondary school for your autistic child.

Most families will have decided which school system works best for their child and their family when they were choosing a primary school, though you can decide to make a change at any stage. So when it comes to high school, you will usually be looking at options within that system and in your area, and which school would be best to meet your child’s needs.

Here are some questions you could ask about when you contact schools you are considering:

  • What kinds of support, resources and programs could they offer your child?
  • Are there other children with disability at the school?
  • What transition options are available? Can your child attend the high school with their primary school education assistant in Term 4 as part of transitioning to the high school?
  • What policies do they have to support students with disabilities?
  • Are students with disabilities fully included in the school, including school clubs, camps and so on?
  • What is the school’s policy and attitude regarding homework?
  • What does the school offer when it comes to work experience for students with disabilities?
  • What kinds of adjustments does the school make for students with disabilities?
  • Does the school have a welcoming and positive attitude and culture regarding diversity and disability?
  • What is the school’s bullying policy and how do they enforce it?
  • What does the school do to ensure safety, such as supervision when students are leaving school at the end of the day?
  • Will they allow therapists and other professionals to advise and help school staff?
  • How does the school communicate with parents?

It’s a good idea to consider these and then add other questions that are specific to your child and your family.

Think about the areas where your child has specific support needs such as communication, self-help skills, mental health, sensory processing issues. Make a list of questions you want to ask schools regarding how they can support your child. For example, would they let your child have breaks to move around, or let them wear headphones or have comfort items in the classroom?

Getting ready for high school

Here are some tips to help your child with the first days at high school.

  • Prepare a social story about the high school for your child. You can ask their primary school and the new high school for help with this. The social story should include photos of important areas in the high school that your child will need to be able to find (toilets, student services, classrooms etc), and staff your child will need to recognise and approach when they need help.
  • Negotiate a transition process for your child to help them adjust.
  • Talk about how high school is different from primary school:

– It is probably bigger with more students.

– You move around to different classrooms for different subjects. It’s a good idea to look at a timetable and know what class times are, and when the bell will sound.

– Talk about what happens at recess and lunch and where to go during breaks.

  • Visit the school with your child and look around. Meet with their home room teacher and other staff who will be supporting them. Talk with them about a support buddy to help your child learn their way around and how things work. Find out what your child can do if they feel anxious or lost.
  • Go to reception and introduce your child.
  • Practice changing into uniform, sports uniforms, changing shoes. Are there any things you need to do to help your child do this independently at school?