Education Health and Care Plan Case Study

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Sarah Woosey

Interim Head of Education Law

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What is autism?

The National Autistic Society defines autism as a developmental disability that affects how people interact and communicate with the world around them. Autism isn’t one disability, rather a spectrum condition that can affect people in different ways. No two people with autism are the same, as they will experience different symptoms or varying levels of the same symptoms.

Autistic people may struggle with social communications, interactions, repetitive behaviours, obsessions or highly focused on a specific hobby or interest, and sensitivity to noise, taste, touch, and smell. These are just a few of the most common symptoms, but there are many more that can be of varying degrees of severity.

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Autistic child not given adequate support

Our client’s son was in mainstream education but wasn’t being provided with adequate support, despite being diagnosed with autism.

The client initially contacted our Education Law Solicitors as she was concerned her child was not getting the help he required at break times in particular. Indeed, there had been various incidents where the child had got hurt by another pupil at the school, and the client wished to secure one-to-one support in the playground.

We helped highlight inadequate support

After taking on her case, our Education Law Solicitors looked at the child’s Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and found that it was clearly inadequate in a number of ways.

An appeal regarding the contents of the EHCP was made to the Special Education Needs and Disability Tribunal and we took steps to get further expert evidence from an educational psychologist, an occupational therapist and a speech and language specialist.

The reports from these experts showed that the school had failed to meet the needs of the child. In fact, the education psychologist specifically stated that on this occasion, a special school setting would better suit the child given their needs.

As a result, the client wanted her child to attend a local special school, which she had visited and liked very much.

What was the outcome for our client?

The appeal settled before a final hearing, with the Local Authority agreeing that the child would be placed at the special school favoured by the mother.

The child’s EHCP was subsequently updated to reflect their needs, which included occupational therapy and speech and language therapy provision.

The education psychologist had been able to show that the child had dyslexia, which had not been picked up prior to this, and therefore was not reflected in the previous Education, Health and Care Plan.

It was clear that without coming to our Education Law Solicitors, the mother would have been left in the dark as to how inadequate the EHCP in place was, and how her child’s needs were simply not being met by the child’s current school.

Both mum and child were excited about a new start at a school she believed will be able to help her son.

For more information see How to Appeal an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

How common is autism?

Regardless of whether you work with or around children and young people, it’s important to understand as much as you can about autism, because it’s more common that you may think.

More than one in 100 people in the UK are on the autism spectrum. Within the UK alone, there are currently around 700,000 autistic adults and children.

Based on these figures, you are very likely to know someone with autism.

Education and autism

Under the Children and Families Act 2014, local authorities are responsible for identifying the needs of children in their area and commission the relevant services to offer support to those children and young people with any special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). This includes autism.

How autism can affect children’s education

Every child with autism will have very different symptoms, so how it will impact their education will be unique. Autistic children might spend a lot of their time at home learning how to cope and navigate the environment. But once they have developed these skills home, they  might then need to re-learn skills for school. As it’s a new environment, they will need a completely new set of skills and they may not generalise such skills as easily as others.


Children with autism might have difficulty with concentrating or paying attention to things that they may not be interested in. Others may become fully engrossed in set tasks where they become unaware of what is happening around them.


Some children with autism may have sensory difficulties of different levels of severity. While they may cope at home where these can be reduced, they can be worse at school. For example, everyday noises and disruptions like alarms, lights, loud voices, and smells may over simulate the child.

This can lead to some autistic children to become anxious, present self-stimulatory behaviours, or experience headaches.


Throughout education, it’s expected that children and young people will be able to multi-task to some degree, but this may not be the case for autistic children. Autistic people can have problems handling more than one task at a time, as well as switching between activities.

Communication and Social Interactions

One of the bigger symptoms of autism is a difference in the way that they communicate on a social level. Even if an autistic child doesn’t have severe issues with social communication, they can still find it very difficult.

It can be difficult to navigate the schools while at school as they are constantly changing. For example, they may have to be quiet during some situations such as assemblies, while they can talk on other occasions such as on the playground.

A child with autism may not be able to pick up on all the social cues that tell them when it’s time to change their behaviour to suit the given situation.

How to improve education for autistic children

Here are some of the key areas that can help improve the child’s experience at school:

  • Support in the classroom, such as an adult helper
  • Individualised teaching methods
  • Play therapy
  • Sensory room or corner
  • Co-ordinating with the parent
  • Structured environment and learning
  • Social support provided by teachers or staff
  • Regular evaluation of the child’s progress and EHCP
  • Offer support to the parents for home

Fighting on your behalf

We understand that making the decision to instruct a solicitor to act on your behalf can be a hard one. But having someone there to fight your corner can help get things done and put things right.

If your child is autistic and you are concerned or worried about the level of support they are receiving at school, you have a right to challenge this.

How we can help your case

Our expert Education Law Solicitors will be happy to discuss your case to see how we can help.

Why not speak with one of our specialists today about your options?


Department for Education (2011). Teachers’ Standards. [online] GOV.UK. Available at:

Department for Education (2015). SEND code of practice: 0 to 25 years. [online] Available at: (2014). Children and Families Act 2014. [online] Available at:

National Autistic Society (2023). What Is Autism? [online] Available at:

Adams, L., Tindle, A., Basran, S., Dobie, S., Thomson, D., Robinson, D. and Codina, G. (2018). Education, Health and Care plans: A qualitative investigation into service user experiences of the planning process Research report. [online] Available at:

Sarah Woosey Profile Picture

Sarah Woosey

Interim Head of Education Law

Areas of Expertise:
Education Law

Sarah re-joined Simpson Millar in 2018 having previously trained at the firm before spending a number of years working for a different national firm. She has a number of years’ experience in a range of Education Law and Social Care issues and has focused particularly on getting suitable education and/or services for children and young adults with a wide range of Special Educational Needs and/or disabilities.

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