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(Credit: Wither, age 14)

Young people (in fact all people) are innately driven to meet their 3 basic needs:


Having choice and control over their actions


Feeling connected with and accepted by the people around you


Feeling that you are learning and developing skills.

(Credit: Ash, age 16)

This means that young people strive to grow, develop and have positive connections.

Young people do well IF they can.

(Credit: Breadcappy, young person)

But there are some things that can get in the way…

Stressors: What if the space is too loud, too bright, too busy? What if the people around a young person don’t understand them? Stress caused by the physical and social environment can get in the way.

(Credit: Grace, age 10)

Unmet needs: Did they have enough sleep? Are they dysregulated? It is hard for a young person to do well if their physical, emotional, social and sensory needs aren’t met.


But it’s wider than these short-term needs. What if they have a lot of trauma, or feel ashamed of being autistic? Longer term thoughts, feelings and experiences can make it harder to do well.

(Credit: Yuki, age 12)

Skill gaps: Everyone on the planet has different strengths and needs. This means they may thrive in some areas, but find some things that most people find easy, very difficult. If someone has a skill gap, unless the skill is developed, or unless support is put in place to stop it being a barrier, it is hard to do well.

(Credit: Fred, age 12)

People typically use rewards and punishments when these things are in the way, but we know that rewards and punishments don’t fix things...

Instead of rewards and punishments, there are some key values we think are essential:

Unconditional Positive Regard: We hold unconditional positive regard for young people, valuing them as unique individuals deserving of respect and acceptance. Regardless of challenges or differences, we maintain a positive and non-judgmental attitude. All individuals possess the innate capability to succeed when provided with the right support, understanding, and opportunities.

(Credit: Cosser, young person)

The importance of positive relationships: Positive relationships play a pivotal role in establishing trust. We prioritise the development of strong, supportive, and respectful relationships. These relationships are built on open communication, empathy, and active listening. We recognise that it is our responsibility to develop trusting positive relationships, not the responsibility of young people.

(Credit: Cosser, young person)

Creating a nurturing environment: We are committed to creating a nurturing environment where trust and positive relationships can flourish. We aim to model trustworthiness, respect, and empathy, setting the tone for interactions among all young people. We believe that when trust and positive relationships are present, challenges can be effectively addressed with compassion and understanding.

(Credit: Yuki, age 12)

(Credit: Soph, age 14)

Embracing neurodiversity: We wholeheartedly embrace the concept of the neurodiversity paradigm, recognising that neurological differences, including autism, are natural variations in the human experience. We aim to adapt our practices and approaches to accommodate the unique needs and preferences of all autistic young people. We have a commitment to neurodiversity affirming practice.

Being Trauma Informed: We adopt a Trauma Informed approach, recognising that past experiences may influence behaviour.

Trauma can have a profound and lasting impact on individuals' emotional and psychological well-being. By understanding and addressing the potential impact of trauma, we aim to create a safe and predictable environment where young people are supported with the healing process.


(Credit: Cosser, young person)

We aim to create a safe and predictable environment where autistic young people can feel secure and supported, following the 6 key principles of trauma-informed practice (Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, 2022):



We support the young people in our community using something called The NEST Approach. This approach is based on our extensive partnership work with autistic young people, in addition to the CPS Model (Dr. Ross Greene), the Low Arousal Approach (Professor Andy McDonnell) and the PANDA Approach (The PDA Society).

You can find out more about The NEST Approach here.

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