Autism and online safety

Posted on 02 April 2014

On World Autism Awareness Day, Childnet announces plans to develop a new online safety project to support learners with autism spectrum disorder.

Young people living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) face a unique set of opportunities and challenges when using digital technology. To help equip staff who work with ASD learners in Key Stage 3 and 4, Childnet is embarking on an exciting new project with Leicester City Council.

Technology and the internet offer fantastic opportunities for young people with learning, communicating and playing. However, alongside these benefits there are many risks that young people with an ASD may be more vulnerable to, including cyberbullying, contact by strangers, exposure to inappropriate content and excessive use.

We are working in partnership with Leicester City Council’s Building Schools for the Future Programme to produce online safety guidance which will enable staff to better support young people with ASD. The guidance will be launched in June 2014 and will be available for free for schools across the UK.

The resource will increase the knowledge and expertise of school staff in relation to e-safety practice, particularly in understanding and managing potential risks. It will also help to promote a positive, fun and safe experience for young people with ASD.

Childnet has been working closely with three BSF schools in Leicester to create this guidance.

Michael Richardson of Ellesmere College, one of the schools involved in the project, said:

“We want our pupils to be able to make the most of the fantastic opportunities offered online. This guidance will really empower school staff to support ASD learners to make good choices and keep themselves safe online”.  

Josie Fraser, Leicester City Council’s BSF ICT Strategy Lead, said:

“Many learners on the autistic spectrum enjoy and benefit from technology – like other young people they play games, use the internet and mobile phones to communicate and connect. Technology can be a really empowering tool for young people with autism, in terms of their personal development and independence. However, they may also be potentially more vulnerable than other groups of learners in connected environments.”

“This project will develop e-safety guidance and information for learners on the autistic spectrum, supporting schools in Leicester to understand and manage risks. It will also be a great resource for schools supporting learners of the autistic spectrum across the UK.”


If you have any queries about the guidance, or if you are interested in attending the launch event in Leicester in June, please email Becky Nancarrow at [email protected]

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