STEPS was set up by the Early Years SEND team and Surrey Autism Outreach Service, to provide support for parents, for settings and for the transition into school for children displaying difficulties with social communication. STEPS is provided by Autism Outreach team members from Freemantles School
What do social communication difficulties look like?
Children who are not keeping up with their peers in skills like communicating with other people, following routines, following instructions, or play skills. They might have other challenges including anxiety or sensory differences.
STEPS Referral Criteria
- The child being referred is between 3 years and school age.
- Priority is given to children who are in their -1 (Preschool) year.
- The child is displaying difficulties and/or behaviours we associate with social communication differences.
What does STEPS look like?
Three blocks of support are available;
- Support for Parents consists of three sessions, which could include home visits, online meetings and/or meetings with staff from nursery/pre-school. We will talk generally about how things are going with your child and set a target around something that is not going so well, such as routines, sleep, eating or using the toilet.
- Support for Settings consists of three visits to nursery/pre-school to look at strategies and support in place for your child. We will work with setting staff to establish a target area, including topics such as routines, independence, anxiety, sensory needs, structure or visual supports.
- Support for Transition will include consulting with nursery/preschool staff to find out what has worked well and what is the important information that a child’s new school will need to know, then visiting reception class staff to make sure everything will be in place when the child arrives in September. We will follow up in the autumn term to problem solve and talk through next steps.
After each block of support, we will ask some evaluation questions and provide a short written summary.
Making a referral to STEPS
Referrals should be made through a settings EY SEND advisor, who will organise for the child’s case to be discussed at EIF panel. The panel will decide if funding for STEPS is agreed and which of the three blocks of support this will include. Signed consent from parents/ carers must be obtained on the referral form.
If my child is offered STEPS does it mean they have autism?
No, it just means that they are showing some difficulties with social communication. STEPS is run by members of staff from the Autism Outreach team, because they are skilled in supporting children with these sorts of needs. Some of the children who receive STEPS may already have an autism diagnosis, or go on to get one, but many wont.
Who can I contact if I have more questions?
Your nursery/pre-school’s SENCO will be able to give you more information about why STEPS has been suggested for your child. They liaise with the EY SEND team and will be able to tell you who your link advisor is.
If you have been referred for STEPS support already, feel free to email any questions to Vanessa, who will direct them on to your allocated outreach worker. email@example.com