Guidance on including autistic members and volunteers

World Autism Day takes place every year on 2 April

02 April 2022

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people communicate and interact with the world. 

It’s a spectrum disorder, which means it affects different people in different ways. The National Autistic Society (NAS) estimates that one in 100 people in the UK are on the autism spectrum. 

World Autism Acceptance Day is a chance for people around the world to raise awareness of autism and help create a society that is more welcoming and inclusive of autistic people.   

We’ve gathered together all our relevant guidance for volunteers on how to support autistic members and other volunteers. 

Guidance and resources 

How to include autistic members and volunteers in guiding 

This guidance for volunteers contains advice on how to support autistic members. With help from the National Autistic Society, we’ve described some of the shared characteristics of autism and given ideas of adjustments to consider for your unit. 

How we can be more inclusive through communication 

Communication is important to making sure every member has a fulfilling guiding experience. We’ve put together some guidance on how we can be more inclusive in the different ways we communicate. You’ll also find some themed communication passports you can download, which we created with the National Autistic Society. These are a simple resource to help autistic girls tell you about themselves without the need to say anything aloud. 

How one autistic leader’s team has helped her feel included 

In this blog post we heard from Brownie leader Allison Johnson on what it’s like to be an autistic leader. Allison shared what autism means to her, how other leaders have helped her feel included, as well as some inclusion advice to autistic and allistic people (a term used to refer to people who aren’t autistic). 

How to make an adjustment plan for autistic members and volunteers 

We have some general guidance on why it’s important to make adjustments to include disabled members in our activities, and what it means to make adjustments. You can complete an adjustment plan with a young member or volunteer to identify the barriers they face and how you can help overcome them. 

How to understand and respond to behaviour that challenges 

In Girlguiding, the five essentials show our commitment to caring for the individual. As part of this, all our members should be considerate to the needs and wants of others, as it helps us all have a great guiding experience. Some autistic people may find it especially difficult to communicate what they want or how they’re feeling and react in ways that we may find challenging. We’ve put together some general guidance and tips for responding to behaviour that challenges. 

How to apply for an accessible guiding grant 

Did you know that there areaccessible guiding grants available to provide support to members or volunteers with additional needs? The amount of funding is assessed on a case-by-case basis, and can be used to cover one-to-one support for members to attend trips, the purchase of special equipment, communication support, support to make activities more accessible and more.   

More helpful links 

There are some fantastic organisations who can provide more information and support: 

The National Autistic Society (NAS) is the UK’s leading charity for people on the autism spectrum and their families. They’ve got plenty of information, support and services for autistic people on their website. 

The NHS website has useful links and resources on where to get support if you’re autistic. They’ve also got some information for autistic people under 25 on asking your council about their ‘local offer’ – the name for the support they provide for young people with additional needs. 

Autism Together are one of a few organisations celebrating Autism Acceptance Month and offer the chance to get involved in lots of fun challenges to help raise awareness about autism. 

Get advice on including all

Contact us for more information and advice about including all girls and volunteers in guiding.

Email us