Developed by the National Autistic Society in conjunction with people with autism, their families and professionals, the SPELL framework supports an understanding of autism and the development of autism-friendly environments and approaches.

It forms the basis of training for staff supporting people on the autistic spectrum and fits with the range of person centred approaches we have developed. These include Foundations of Good Supportactive supporteffective communication and Positive Behaviour Support.

The elements of the SPELL framework

SPELL is an individualised and person centred approach that centres around 5 key elements:

Structure makes the world a more predictable, accessible and safer place for people with autism. Good support takes this into account and utilises it effectively to aid personal autonomy and independence by reducing dependence on others.

Positive approaches and expectations of people with autism is the cornerstone of good support. Sensitive and persistent support enables us to engage the individual, minimise regression, and discover and develop potential.

Empathy is developed by gathering insights about how the individual sees and experiences the world, finding out what it is that motivates or interests them, as well as what frightens, preoccupies or distresses them. Understanding this ensures that our support respects and reflects the position or perspective of the individual.

Low arousal support and environments are particularly important for people who have sensory-processing difficulties. Staff focus on creating approaches and situations that are calm and ordered to reduce anxiety and aid concentration. They give people extra time to process information and pay attention to potentially aversive or distracting stimuli, such as noise levels, colour schemes, odours, lighting and clutter.  

Links between the various components of the person’s life and/or services are strengthened to promote and sustain essential consistency. The person we support with autism, their parents and advocates are very much seen as partners in this process.

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