SWAPP is a partnership programme between parents and their child's setting or school that aims to build an understanding of autism and the challenges and delights it can present.
The programme aims to empower families and staff who are closely involved in supporting a child or young person with autism.
Sessions cover all aspects of autism including communication, sensory issues and behaviour.
We deliver SWAPP courses throughout the academic year. Once you have completed an application form (see information at the bottom of this sheet) you will be contacted to invite you to an online course. Families are usually allocated to courses according to when they applied - i.e. families who applied earlier are offered a course first.
SWAPP is for families of children and young people with autism from preschool age to school year 13. Families must be Wiltshire residents i.e. live in areas governed by Wiltshire Local Authority. A member of staff from the child or young person's setting/school is also encouraged to attend to develop a consistent approach around the child or young person. Children and young people themselves do not attend sessions.
SWAPP 1 is for families of children in early year's settings and reception classes and uses a programme designed by professionals who are experienced with supporting children in this age group.
SWAPP 2/3 targets families who have children in primary school. The course was designed by professionals in the Local Authority with extensive autism experience and aims to give an understanding of the behaviours seen in autism, why they occur and some basic strategies. Families will be offered a course according to the age and needs of their child and the availability of courses.
SWAPP 4 is aimed at families of older pupils, in school years 7 -13, looking at how puberty impacts upon autism and covering communication, behaviour, independence, sex and sexuality and mental health and wellbeing. This course has been designed by professionals in the Local Authority with extensive autism experience with older young people. Usually, we expect families who have attended a SWAPP 2-3 course to wait for 2 years before applying for a SWAPP 4 course in order to prioritise families who have had no recent autism training.
Yes, SWAPP is for families with children on the autistic spectrum. In line with NICE guidelines, a child must have a formal written diagnosis before a family can attend the programme.
SWAPP courses are most relevant for families whose children attend mainstream schools but is also relevant for more able children in specialist schools. This is because many of the strategies require the child to have a good understanding of verbal communication and primarily use verbal language to communicate. Families whose children have more significant learning disabilities in addition to autism are welcome to apply. However, they may find some of the course content is not applicable.
Sessions are group sessions and usually run one session per week for consecutive weeks, except over school holidays.
SWAPP 1 runs over 6 weeks.
SWAPP 2/3 runs over 4 weeks.
SWAPP 4 runs over 6 weeks.
Each group session lasts for approximately 2 hours. Families and school staff will normally be expected to attend all sessions. Sessions are held in the morning and tutors are usually available to answer any individual queries after the sessions.
SWAPP courses take place virtually via Microsoft Teams and you will receive an invite via email with a link you simply need to click on.
SWAPP 2/3 and SWAPP 4 sessions are led by Specialist Advisory Teachers from SSENS (Specialist Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Service). Sometimes other professionals are involved such as Educational Psychologists. SWAPP 1 courses are led by a Speech and Language Therapist and a SEND Lead Worker. All professionals have training and experience in supporting children and young people with autism.
Each family is offered two places for family members and a third place is offered for a staff member at the child or young person's setting or school. There are usually about 8 -10 families on each course.
The family members attending may be parents, carers, grandparents, other relatives or, occasionally others who are closely involved in supporting the child/young person. Grown-up siblings are welcome. School staff may include key workers, teaching assistants or teachers; they should be someone who has a key role in supporting the child or young person in their setting or school.
We occasionally have a professional colleague observing a course as part of their professional development. This helps to increase autism awareness from the parental perspective across Wiltshire.
Each session explores an area of autism such as communication or behaviour. It involves information, ideas and discussions. You will meet other families and be able to share experiences.
SWAPP sessions are intended to be informal, interesting, interactive and enjoyable. People can opt out of anything they are not comfortable with - no one will be 'put on the spot' or asked to contribute verbally if they do not wish to. There is also an option to type comments or questions in the chat box during sessions. Most participants choose to have their camera on but this can be off if preferred.
There are some simple activities in SWAPP 1 where you may be asked to share videos with the group if you are comfortable doing so.
You will be provided with copies of the presentations and any relevant handouts. Handouts can be annotated so you may wish to have a pen and paper to hand. Suggested book lists will be posted or emailed to you before the course.
SWAPP is free as it is funded directly by Wiltshire Council.
SWAPP facilitators are skilled at supporting all participants to get the most out of the programme. If you have additional needs - for example, if you find it difficult to read, or to speak English; if you yourself are on the autistic spectrum or if you have learning difficulties let us know and we will be able to support you. Alternatively you may choose to bring someone with you to help, for example an interpreter.
Families who would like a place can either:
- Phone: 01225 718 095 or 01225 718 225 (Direct Line for SWAPP Administrator).
- Email: TSLS.OperationalOffice@wiltshire.gov.uk.