Communication and Autism Team

covid-19 return to setting transition offer - click here

The Communication and Autism Team (CAT) provide support to children and young people, parents, carers, schools and academies in Birmingham. We are a team of specialist staff who work closely with settings to develop good autism practice through utilising the Autism Education Trust (AET) framework.

Ongoing support and advice, to settings, ensures that autistic children and young people can access learning and develop life skills that will enable them to fulfil their educational, social and employment potential. We have a specific offer to all local authority schools and academies, however, we will also work to support other settings where commissioned.

We work with children and young people with a diagnosis between the ages of 2 and 25 years. For those children and young people who do not yet have a diagnosis, there may be the opportunity to offer a level support where there is appropriate confirmation that they are on the diagnostic pathway.

Core Offer to all Birmingham Maintained Schools/Settings

All settings will be offered tiered support dependent on the number of diagnosed children registered with CAT. These Core hours, in line with the CAT levels.

There are 3 tiers, as detailed below:

A – 0-2 young people on register – 20 hours

B – 3-9 young people on register – 28 hours

C – 10+ young people on register – 35 hours

In addition to the hours above, where a setting has an autism resource base or the number of children registered with CAT exceeds 25 then they will allocated an additional hours as detailed:

  • Settings with a resource base will receive an additional 5 hours.
  • Settings with 25+ young people on register will receive an additional 5 hours.

Top Up

There is also the option of purchasing Top Up hours to supplement the core hours. Top Up is for use with children and young people already registered with CAT. If a setting is interested in these hours cost are as follows:

5 hours   £750.00

10 hours £1,500.00

15 hours £2,175.00

Service Level Agreement (SLA)

A SLA is a way of purchasing an agreed number of hours, half or full days of CAT support. The purchase of time can be used for any pre-agreed purpose; the outcomes are discussed and decided between your setting and CAT leadership. A SLA can be purchased in addition to Core hours and Top Up.

Both Top Up and SLAs can be requested by completing the forms and emailing to

Post 16 Offer

The CAT offer Post 16 support to Young People with autism in three core ways.

  • Transition support

The team offer support to both schools and colleges on the development of successful transition process this includes training and dedicated Transitional events. Support identified Young People with individualised transition support.

  • Service level Agreements

Further education settings purchase a package of hours from CAT to support individuals with Autism be successfully at their institutions.

  • Specialised work

Referral from SENAR of young people with autism who are at risk of not meeting their Education Health and Care Plan outcomes. This person centred mentoring service is designed to support the young person into adulthood.

Contact Us

Postal Address: Thornbury Centre, Thornbury Road, Birchfield, Birmingham, West Midlands, B20 3DE.

Office Telephone: 0121 303 1792

For general CAT enquiries, please contact:

For Top Up and SLA enquiries and requests, please contact:

For enquiries about AET training, please contact:

The Autism Education Trust was awarded funding from the DfE in 2011 to deliver a programme to raise workforce competency through:

Autism training available for school staff:

  • Making Sense of Autism– general awareness
  • Good Autism Practice– for staff working with children and young people on a daily basis
  • Leading Good Autism Practice– for senior leaders within the setting

Over 190,000 delegates have received this training across the country since 2011.

Integrating this training with national standards for schools for autism education:

Developing a competency framework to guide professional development:


The Communication and Autism Team are a licensed training hub delivering Early Years, Schools and Post 16 training to all schools and providers within the city. The first training tier, Making Sense of Autism is delivered free to all Birmingham maintained settings.

Evaluations show that over 98% of those attending our courses feel strongly that it had made a difference to their working practice and understanding of autism.

“The training is effective in providing strategies for supporting pupils as well as extending awareness of the wide range of needs of pupils with autism. As a whole, it is a complete package which appeals to those new to working with children with autism and to those who are in senior leader posts.” – Birmingham Head Teacher

Central to the programme is the concept of autism as a difference not a deficit. This approach puts the child or young person at the heart of the process.

“As a head teacher, the training reinforced for me the need to make support for pupils with autism a whole school issue, developing a shared awareness and understanding and developing a provision which is led by senior staff and embedded in the school’s inclusive ethos. This influenced the content of the SDP, appraisal, standards of teaching, learning and development, engagement of children, trust and satisfaction of parents.” – Birmingham Head Teacher

The training is linked to the Code of Practice, Equality Act, Teacher’s Standards and Ofsted framework and supports schools to discharge their statutory duties in relation to children and young people with autism. The  training ensures that practitioners are better able to hear the voice of the young person who may communicate in an unconventional or ‘different’ way and enables them to take actions to promote their welfare and safeguard them.

For more information on the Autism Education Trust visit

AET Training Pathway

Additional Training Modules

These additional training packages are developed by CAT workers. These are either Twilight sessions, 90 minutes or Half Day sessions, 3 hours 30 minutes. These courses are delivered in your setting.

Birmingham maintained schools that receive Core hours from CAT can use these hours to ‘pay’ for any Additional Training Modules. To book any of the additional training packages, complete the CAT Training Module Request Form 2019-20 and send this directly to your CAT worker. Please indicate on the form whether you are paying or using Core hours.

Titles include:

School Age:

  • Understanding Behaviours that Challenge – Practical approaches to managing responses (Twilight only)
  • Understanding Behaviours that Challenge – Strategic systems to support understanding and practical approaches to managing responses (Half Day only)
  • Understanding and Supporting Sensory Differences (Twilight only)
  • Understanding and Supporting the Development of Communication Skills (Twilight only)
  • Primary Differentiation and Strategies
  • Social Stories and Comic Strip Conversations (Twilight only)
  • Anxiety (Twilight only)
  • Progression Framework and All About Me Tool (Half Day only)
  • Social Interaction Groups (Twilight only)

Early Years:

  • Developing and Enhancing Play Skills
  • Feeding and Toileting
  • Increasing Joint Attention and Language Skills
  • Supporting Positive Peer to Peer Relationships

CAT have extensive experience of working in partnership with professionals from a wide range of disciplines to support autistic children and young people.

We can be commissioned to deliver tailored training to teams across many sectors. The training we deliver maintains the central message of understanding Autism as a Difference rather than a Deficit and enables staff groups to consider ways of making their services more accessible to this group of children and young people. Some of the teams that we have previously delivered training to have included the fire service, police, social workers, residential Care workers, retail teams, prison workers, hospital staff, foster carers and G.P’s.  We work with schools and settings outside of the Birmingham Local Authority and those within Birmingham who are not maintained.

We are always happy to discuss how we can support colleagues working in other circumstances to maximise their ability to meet the needs of people with autism, so please do give us a call if you think we may be able to add to your team conversations around this topic.

Service Level Agreements

The CAT can be commissioned to provide bespoke packages of support for organisations needing advice and support around specific interventions and approaches for service users. We can support teams to adopt enabling approaches that are informed by an understanding and appreciation of life through an ‘Autism Lens’. Why not give us a call to discuss your specific service needs? We’d be happy to consider ways in which we could support you.

The types of support CAT offer through an SLA can include:

  • Personalised support for children/ young people
  • Specialist interventions for individuals and/or groups
  • Assistance with statutory work around Education, Heath and Care processes and assessments
  • Building on relationships with families to encourage engagement and confidence
  • An audit of staff to identify skills and training needs
  • Strategic and capacity building work using the Autism Education Trust (AET) standards & competencies
  • Training for all staff through the tiered AET programme

These are suggested way to support however packages can be tailored to meet your individual setting’s needs.

Contact Us

For SLA requests, please email completed form to:

If you would like to talk to the CAT lead for SLAs, please contact Michelle Davies on  0121 303 1792 or

Here we have included the forms we use at CAT for you to download by clicking on the links below.


Registration of young people with CAT must come only from the school or setting which they are attending. The form must be completed in full and emailed to the setting’s allocated CAT worker. Proof of diagnosis must also be sent attached to the form.


CAT Training Module Request Form 2020-2021

AET Making Sense of Autism Out of Authority Form

AET Early Years Good Autism Practice Booking Request Form

AET Schools Good Autism Practice Booking Request Form

AET Schools Extending & Enhancing Good Autism Practice Booking Request Form

AET Post 16 Good Autism Practice Booking Request Form

The AET, National Autism Standards state “building effective relationships requires active listening… promoting opportunities for the exchange of information and ideas” – CAT knows that we are stronger when working together.

The Communication and Autism Team (CAT) recognise that parent/carers are fundamental to supporting the children and young people we work with.  CAT has always valued its relationship with families and actively seeks their participation and engagement by ensuring that a thread of parental support / voice runs throughout the work of this team.  Parental resilience and empowerment is key to promoting success and independence for their children and young people.  We also acknowledge the pressures and anxieties some parent/carers may face at times in parenting someone on the autism spectrum.

Parents/carers are the experts on their young person and offer great insight into their strengths and needs.  We know that working in collaboration is essential to listen to the ‘voice of the family’ and develop our practice accordingly.

CAT levels of support


CAT has established its own Parental Awareness Course (PAC). The topics and material were written in collaboration with parents.  Parents report increased confidence in advocating for their children and young people and feel more informed in accessing the right support in school.  The course provides an opportunity for families to learn more about autism, take home ideas and strategies to try at home and meet other parents and share experiences.  Free but places must be booked – 6 x weekly 2½hr sessions, offered termly at venues across the city (at least 4 per term).

Invite is usually through the CAT worker within school

  • Topics
    • Session 1 – An introduction to Autism
    • Session 2 – Social Communication and Interaction
    • Session 3 – Sensory Issues
    • Session 4 – Sleeping, Eating and Personal Hygiene
    • Session 5 – Anxiety, Behaviour and Managing Transitions
    • Session 6 – Autism and Birmingham

Schools / Settings – If you would like more information on delivering a CAT PAC within your setting please speak to your CAT worker. We offer a range of additional sessions tailored to emergent and current needs.

Parent drop in sessions

Monthly Drop in Sessions

Monthly drop-in session – free and no need to book the sessions are held at Chinnbrook Children’s Centre. In addition some CAT workers have agreed with their individual schools to hold regular drop-in sessions for local parents

Themed Termly Coffee Mornings

Themed Termly coffee morning – free but places must be booked – flyers are sent out to schools

Autism Support Groups

Allocated CAT worker will visit autism parent support groups across the city.   Please contact CAT for further information.

Family Support

We offer a family support service to schools providing experienced workers who will engage with families to help them work towards supporting their children to reach their full potential.  We work with parents and wider members of the family to support family relationships, promote well-being and enhance the relationship between home and school. This work is highly individualised and built around the strengths and needs of the young person and family.

Our team comprises of autism experienced staff able to work with parents/carers around a wide range of autism specific issues.

These support services are accessible through a Service Level Agreement – please contact your CAT worker to discuss further

Documents & resources

Autism Education Trust Resources for Parents:

CAT TV YouTube Channel

We are often asked at CAT – how do we know we have had an impact? Here we have included the feedback we have received from some of our courses.

“Everything was useful and exactly what I needed to know for my role. Very comprehensive.”
Delegate attending ‘AET Schools Good Autism Practice’

“You empowered me.”
Parent attending ‘CAT PAC’ Course

“Thank you so much for all your help and support with our staff. You truly are amazing at what you do; and we appreciate you so much!”
School Staff on a CAT Worker’s practice

“Two mice fell in a bucket of cream
The first quickly gave up and drowned
The Second never gave up, he ran so hard
And eventually turned the cream into
Butter and crawled it’s way out

Ladies and gentlemen as of now I am that second mouse”
Parent attending ‘CAT PAC’ Course

“The course was well presented and opened up good discussions. There was a good amount of material and it was well understood.”
Delegate attending ‘Early Years: The Sensory Child’

“Adam’s presentation was wonderful.”
Delegate attending ‘Understanding Behaviours that Challenge’

“This course enabled me to learn how to grow and gain experience on becoming a Lead Practitioner.”
Delegate attending ‘AET Schools Leading Good Autism Practice’

“The course was well presented and opened up good discussions. There was a good amount of material and it was well understood.”
Delegate attending ‘Early Years: The Sensory Child’

Courses & Resources


Makaton Level 1

Tuesday 24th Nov 2020 & Wednesday 25th Nov 2020


AET Post-16: Making Sense of Autism for Practioners

Thursday 5th Nov 2020 & Friday 6th Nov 2020


AET Progression Framework

Monday 23rd Nov 2020


AET Early Years: Leading Good Autism Practice

Thursday 3rd Dec 2020 & Thursday 10th Dec 2020


AET Schools: Leading Good Autism Practice

Thursday 12th Nov 2020 & Friday 13th Nov 2020


AET Schools: Extending and Enhancing Good Autism Practice

Tuesday 8th Dec 2020 & Wednesday 9th Dec 2020


AET Schools: Good Autism Practice

Tuesday 1st Dec 2020 & Monday 7th Dec 2020