Support for autistic children and young people, those on the autism pathway, and those with social, communication and interaction needs and their families.

Bristol Autism Team (BAT) support in education settings

The Bristol Autism Team (BAT) supports children and young people from the age of 4 to 18 who:

  • have a formal diagnosis of autism
  • are on the pathway to an autism diagnosis
  • have social, communication and interaction needs

We support these children and young people through:

  • primary school
  • secondary school
  • post 16 education settings

We also support children under the age of 4 with a formal autism diagnosis through early years settings such as nurseries and pre-school.

The BAT offers mainstream education settings:

  • a named BAT link from early years through to post 16 (sixth form and college)
  • annual cohort meetings with their named BAT link to plan autism support for their setting (a cohort meeting is where the school talks to their BAT link worker about specific children who have social, communication and interaction needs, including autism)
  • annual advice clinics
  • advice for parents and carers through our online referral system, which parents and carers can access by emailing, or through the BAT link for your education setting
  • nationally recognised Autism Education Trust training for all education settings, endorsed by the Department for Education

For information and advice, email

How to get support in education settings for an autistic child or young person

SENDCOs can refer children from reception age upwards for support from the Bristol Autism Team (BAT) through the setting's cohort meeting and advice clinic. Each setting refers a specific number of children and young people depending on the setting's size and needs.

Children in early years settings must have been referred to the Early Years Portage and Inclusion Service.

How the support works

When the BAT gets a referral, the BAT link meets with education staff and the parents or carers. The BAT link will ask the education staff to invite the parents or carers to the meeting. 

The BAT link will visit the education setting, where the:

  • BAT link will observe the child or young person, and talk to them if appropriate
  • BAT link will talk to the staff working with the child or young person to gather information about the 3 main needs
  • parents or carers are invited to the education setting to discuss needs

After the visit, the BAT determines if the child or young person's case requires the education setting to:

  • implement the BAT's advice and strategies ahead of further consultation (informal casework)
  • do more consultation with strengths and needs analysis and observation (active casework)

If the child or young person moves to active casework, the BAT:

  • do an in depth strengths and needs analysis
  • do further observation
  • meet with the parents or carers
  • do a detailed report with SMART outcomes related to the key areas for support, detail the provision the education setting need to put in place to achieve the outcomes and review the child or young person
  • email the Pupil Record to the education setting (requesting a copy be sent to parents/carers) to identify strengths and needs

The case is then made open to review so that the education setting can: 

  • go ahead with recommendations without any more help
  • ask for more help within the same academic year

During a review visit, the BAT:

  • supports the education setting to ensure their recommendations are fully and correctly implemented 
  • records progress towards agreed outcomes for the child or young person

At any point during the visits, the BAT can review progress and agree to make the case open to review.

Some cases might need further input. The BAT will discuss these cases individually to identify the areas still causing concern. 

Support outside education settings

National Autistic Society (NAS)

The UK's largest autism support charity with lots of advice and guidance. Visit National Autistic Society or call 0808 800 4104.

They have a Bristol branch which supports their members, most of whom are parents of autistic people. They provide:

  • parent-led exclusive access play opportunities for families
  • guest speakers on topics related to autism
  • book and resources that parents may borrow

For more information on the Bristol branch visit NAS Bristol Branch.

Bristol Autism Team (BAT) support for families

The Bristol Autism Team (BAT) offers family learning courses, which you can access through a referral process.

These courses offer:

  • information and advice on autism
  • information on ways to support your child
  • opportunities to meet other parents or carers
  • information and signposting to services and benefits

Bristol Autism Team Advanced Project Workers

The BAT's Advanced Project Workers offer family support to supplement our family learning courses.

They also offer advice and support to services working with families with an autistic child, or a child with social, communication and interaction needs.

Referrals can be madeby a: 

  • social worker 
  • mental health professional
  • member of the Bristol Autism Team (BAT)
  • member of the Families in Focus team or a Children's Centre

If you'd like to make a referral for support from the BAT Advanced Project Workers, email to request a referral form.

The BAT reviews referrals. If they agree to allocate an Advanced Project Worker to work with the family, the Disabled Children's Service (DCS) Children's Resource Panel for Specialist Services (CRPSS) confirm this at their monthly meeting. 

The Advanced Project Worker will do:

  • an assessment that takes into account the view of the child or young person and their family
  • a short-term intervention based on a plan agreed with the child or young person and their family
  • a review meeting with the child or young person, their family and any other people it's important to involve (including workers)
  • a closure plan that identifies what positive changes have happened and considers what needs to be in place to sustain these changes

Bristol Autism Team Pathways to Short Breaks Project

This project supports children and young people aged from 8 to 18 with social, communication and interaction needs, who are experiencing anxiety and are socially isolated. The project is funded until the end of March 2024.

The project offers access to targeted and innovative community based groups, offered by our partners, Neon Daisy, Exar and FACE.

    • Neon Daisy run the Freedom Club, a neuro-affirmative space in the woods for young people, with autistic mentors.
    • Exar run the Without Walls Project, which supports self-isolating young people to reconnect, socialise and access education using virtual reality.
    • FACE run youth groups across Bristol. Numbers are lower than typical youth groups and the content is based around the young person's interests. We commission FACE to run the Bristol Autism Project.

Advanced Project Workers provide support to children and young people who would be otherwise unable to access the community groups. This support involves working with the child or young person and their family, in their homes and local communities.

The goal of the project is to increase the child or young person's social connection and education opportunities.

Who can be referred

To be referred, the child or young person must:

  • be attending school part time or not at all
  • have a social communication need (a child or young person does not need a formal diagnosis of autism to access this service)
  • be experiencing high levels of anxiety that impact their daily life (a child or young person does not need a formal diagnosis of anxiety to access this service)
  • be experiencing social isolation (for example, school avoidance or significantly reduced school attendance)
  • live in Bristol
  • be aged 8 to 18

The project is not taking referrals for children and young people who attend school full time.

Refer a child or young person

Anyone can refer a child or young person and their family, including:

  • the child or young person
  • a parent or carer
  • parent carer advocates
  • school based professionals (such as SENDCos, speech and language therapists and specialist teachers)
  • charities and community groups
  • external education professionals (such as the Bristol Autism Team, educational psychologists or The Hope Virtual School)
  • social care professionals

If you make a referral on behalf of a parent, carer or child or young person:

  • get the parent or carer's consent first
  • speak to the child or young person first and get their consent, especially if they're over the age of 14

Referrals are reviewed at a monthly panel meeting. The team may contact the family before making a decision about what support they can offer.

To request the referral form, email

Advice and support for autistic girls

Short breaks for disabled children

You can find information about the different types of short breaks available to disabled children and their families.

Holiday activities with the Bristol Autism Project

FACE, a youth and community charity based in Filton run the Bristol Autism Project. This is a holiday activities programme for 4 to 18 year olds who live in Bristol. The activities are also open to siblings and family members.

Families must be a member of the Bristol Autism Project to sign up for their holiday activities. Fill in the registration form and email it to

Local groups

Bristol Autism Support (BAS)

A not for profit social enterprise. It provides information, support and training for parents and carers of autistic children, either diagnosed, undiagnosed or suspected in:

  • Bristol
  • North Somerset
  • South Gloucestershire

There are more support services for parents on Advice and support for parents and carers page