top of page

Help & Advice

ABA-friendly EHCP wording

The helpful advice service SOS!SEN has put together this very useful model to help parents when their child is provided with an EHCP (Education, Health and Care Plan, which is replacing the Statement of Special Educational Needs). Wording needs to be looked at thoroughly to ensure your child receives the right help. There are some benefits in getting this sorted out initially when the new plan is provided, rather than hope that you can get amendments at a later stage.

Section B (SEN Needs) for Communication

  • X's social interaction skills are limited and he is wary of his peers. Through intensive teaching on 1:1, he has learnt responses to conversations but requires reinforcement to stay on task.

  • X requires reinforcement and interaction to be motivated to learn, without this in place, his appropriate responses decrease and problem behaviour will occur.

  • X current reinforcement system is a token economy system. X will work towards a set number of ‘ticks’ towards an activity of choice. Once X has received the set number of ticks (average of 10), he will access 1-minute of highly preferred item/action, before teaching resumes.

  • X's learnt skills require systematic generalisation to other environments, people and situations, as well as regular maintenance through practising the skill otherwise he will struggle to retain that skill if left unvisited for a period of time.

  • X requires intensive teaching, always informed by recorded performance, to learn to communicate with others, otherwise he will often use vague phrases such as ‘that one’ to get what he wants. He has learnt to make specific requests using the labels of items/actions which has expanded his vocabulary.

  • X’s receptive language skills are currently at 2-step level, any more information and he struggles to remember the information provided and becomes de-motivated to complete the task.

  • X tends to wait to be prompted rather than completing the task independently and has a tendency to respond in a rote manner. He is unable to answer the same question when asked in different ways.

  • X’s clarity of speech  reduces when the sentence-length increases and certain words can be unclear (for instance, numbers such as “thirteen”).

Examples of Section E - Outcomes


Outcomes for the next 12 months:

  • X will learn to request for 50 items, actions or activities when they are not present in his environment based solely on his motivation (spontaneous requesting).

  • To be able to follow instructions containing 3 key pieces of information e.g. ‘go to place, ask person for an item’ Outcomes for the end of key stage 4:

  • To be able to follow a wide range of functional instructions containing 3 or more pieces of information including places, people, items and actions.  

Long term outcomes:


  • X will be able to initiate communication with others to get his needs met and when he requires help or wants to socialise with others.

  • To develop positive relationships with others

  • To be able to complete tasks and follow instructions in a wide range of settings.

Examples of Section F - Provision

  • Adults working with X should work full-time and be ABA trained, with specific supervision and training from a BCBA qualified specialist for x hrs per week.

  • Adults working with X should build positive relationships by associating themselves with his favourite items or activities in every session.

  • Adults working with X should be able to effectively teach new language skills and maintain existing language by effective use of reinforcement procedures throughout the whole day.

  • New communication skills should be taught by assessing and building motivation, and ensuring that communication is prompted when motivation to interact is present e.g. reaching for the item.

  • X’s understanding of language should be expanding by individually teaching the meaning of new words and generalising this understanding to a range of situations, people and phrases.

  • All decisions made should be informed by data collected in every session and in different environments. A daily Home Communication book detailing targets and achievements must be kept by 1:1 tutor. For example, if X learnt to follow 2-step instructions, it should be ensured that he can follow the instruction at home or school and when given the instruction by different people (e.g. mum) when the same instruction is phrased in various ways.


ABA-friendly EHCP writing, specifically for Section E  

With the help of several mums (big thanks to June Goh of SOS-SEN, Cheryl Joyce and Maddy Barrington-Amat) we have put together some sample Outcomes for the all-important Section E. Writing good, stretching outcomes is vital as often we think ABA is the only way to get your child there. You can't write that in there, as outcomes are about 'where you get to as a result of the intervention', not the type of intervention itself, but it can be a powerful tool. Obviously the outcomes only work if they are individualised to your child, and will be very different according to where a child is on the spectrum and age - but the examples below might help to shape yours. Follow the basic pattern 'For Johnny to learn X so that he is able to enjoy/do Y by end of year D'. Please let us know below any thoughts or corrections or comments.  


Outcomes most be SMART: Specific (no waffle - 'Billy will learn to be more sociable' is just too vague to hold anyone to account when it's not achieved as they will argue in eclectic "well he made eye contact with classmates much more this term" and then you've got nowhere to go!) Measurable - how will we know progress is made, not just 'a feeling' or vague promises but an actual result 'so that he can play games with friends at break time'  Achievable - I am not going to write 'Johnny to achieve 5 GCSEs' when I know it's not achievable but I might well be aspirational and say 'Johnny to learn to read, write and use basic maths' Realistic - ditto above, though targets should be aspirational too so not 'Johnny to recognise his letters' but 'Johnny to be able to read' Timing - there has to be timing but EHCPs are longer term than Annual Review or IEPs, so should have broad timings linked to big transition points eg Long term, 3 years 'by the end of Key Stage 1 / transition to junior school'. Or medium term eg 18 months 'by the end of Year 11'. Or with older kids like my Johnny, 'by the end of education and training' eg 25. And note that this isn't all just about academics but any skills, as recent case law has clarified that learning up to age 25 isn't limited to qualifications

For writing them you might want to use these categories to make sure you get everything in: Communication & Interaction; Cognition & Learning; Social, emotional & Mental health; Sensory & physical

Some Examples

Xxxx will continue to acquire the Makaton signs she needs to express herself in a range of situations, wherever and whoever she is with – this will include knowing how to ask for the things that are most important to her, but also, by the age of 19, knowing how to use sign (and have the vocabulary and ability) to take part in socially dynamic situations e.g. a part-time voluntary job, ordering food in a café.

To be able to work constructively on shared activities with 2 other students for 30 mins with minimal adult support by the time he reaches year 3 To develop his social skills in order to have a small group of friends who he can play with at break times and take part in school and after school activities at least once a week by age 7

To be able to read and write a short story and/or read it to a friend or class fluently; this story will include 3-5 letter words and 6-8 word sentences. To achieve this by end KS2

To manage own toileting and personal hygiene eg wash self in shower, dry self, wash hair by age 9 To develop his strengths and talents so that he can explore and access the practical application of his own interests such as martial arts, race cars, golf, darts, snooker, computers, and to develop new ones by transition to secondary 

To develop his range of reinforcers over next 2 years so that we can find many ways to encourage participating, interacting, learning and communicating, as this must be fun and rewarding.

To improve his ability to approach peers and maintain conversations with a view to developing effective skills to form friendships at school/college

To learn to cross a road safely with minimal or no supervision so that he can keep himself safe by end KS1

To be able to manage on public transport with minimal supervision which would increase his independence and widen his travel by age 18

To learn to swim for fun but also for safety by age 8 To learn to play a sport and follow its rules at a group club or in school by age 8


To be taught literacy and numeracy to his own ability, eg to write cards for relatives or negotiate the Sky schedule, to read everyday signs in the community, take the right transport for the his destination by the end of education and training 


To learn to play games and send simple emails or messages so he can use a computer for fun and communication by end KS2 For Johnny to be able to verbally communicate functionally and emotionally so that his wants, needs and choices can understood by all around him by the time he leaves education and training.  


For Johnny to be able to read and write in a functional manner so that he can make choices, go about the community for activities, play computer games and run chores with reduced supervision or support by the time he leaves education and training. 


For Johnny by adulthood to manage all his own hygiene and self care, and sexual behaviour/needs with dignity and minimal support and supervision when he leaves education and training.  

For Johnny to have social skills necessary to form friendships outside the family and have conversations, join groups and clubs etc by the time he leaves education and training. For Johnny by adulthood to have independence and understanding and awareness around his type 1 diabetes such that he is able to manage insulin, food and exercise and keep himself fit and healthy with as much independence as possible 

Johnny to have learned to tolerate and comprehend the worth of health and medical procedures - from eye checks through to blood tests, dentist, hair cut, chiropody etc that would keep him fit and healthy   For Johnny to understand road safety, stranger dangers, use public transport and be out and about in the community safely with reduced support by the time he leaves education and training.


For Johnny by the time he leaves education to have developed skills and interests that will give him meaningful occupation or enjoyment in later life

For Johnny to have functional skills to do a simple job or take up a vocational interest or activity in his local community so that he is not isolated at home when he leaves education and training. 

For Johnny to have learned to manage his own emotions, reactions and anxieties (even in stressful scenarios) in pro-social ways by adulthood so that he can manage situations appropriately or inform or ask a care giver to assist him.


For Johnny by adulthood to understand and act upon the need to eat healthily and take exercise 


For Johnny to be able access an appropriate education through an individualised curriculum and direct teaching so that he can attain the qualifications i.e. ASDAN and move to the next stage of his learning.  

For Johnny to be able to undertake or share in chores in housekeeping e.g. laundry, meal preparation and cooking, cleaning, changing bedding and see to his everyday needs within the home using scheduling and planning with minimal supervision and support by the time he leaves education and training. 

Useful Links

Code of Practice, 9.66

"An outcome can be defined as the benefit or difference made to an individual as a result of an intervention. It should be personal and not expressed from a service perspective; it should be something that those involved have control and influence over, and while it does not always have to be formal or accredited, it should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound (SMART). When an outcome is focused on education or training, it will describe what the expected benefit will be to the individual as a result of the educational or training intervention provided. Outcomes are not a description of the service being provided – for example the provision of three hours of speech and language therapy is not an outcome. In this case, the outcome is what it is intended that the speech and language therapy will help the individual to do that they cannot do now and by when this will be achieved. "

Mandy Williams of ABA charity Child Autism UK - Top Tips on making ABA work in mainstream 

Ten Top Tips for Working Successfully in Schools

  1. Understand and acknowledge that the class teacher has ultimate responsibility in his/her classroom.

  2. Involve the child in class activities as much as you can.  Integration, not isolation, should be the priority.

  3. When a child first starts attending school try and findtutors who are experienced shadows who have a history of working well in schools.

  4. When doing school observations, do not be critical of school staff.  Be tactful, not aggressive.

  5. If you need to make changes, explain why and how you need to make these changes.  Listen to the reasons why the school might not want to make them and address their concerns.

  6. Adopt a collaborative style, not a command and control style of working with teaching staff.

  7. The school will need to deliver the national curriculum.  They cannot always change every pupil’s day to accommodate your requests.  Compromise when necessary.

  8. Make sure tutors understand boundaries and their role.  Many of the issues in schools are created because tutors either over step their role assuming greater authority than they actually have, or get mixed messages from the ABA service provider and the school resulting in less than optimum programmes. 

  9. Ensure all staff going in to school are professional, have DBS and insurance if they are self-employed.  Make sure the whole team are familiar with the schools policies, especially those governing positive handling and behaviour.

  10. Working well in schools is primarily about creating positive relationships, it requires good communication and good emotional intelligence as do all relationships!

ABA and mainstream 

Yusuf Loonat, the tribunal winner posted about earlier, gave this advice to a parent query on the UKSBA page, well worth repeating here as could help many more. Thanks for sharing Yusuf. The helplines SOS SEN and IPSEA can help with free legal advice, but any ideas if parents can't afford the independent Ed Psych reports that are so often recommended? 

"...getting the school onside will be key - if it allows for your son's education to be delivered through ABA techniques, that in itself will be the basis of the evidence in calling for his EHC plan to include an ABA provision on a full/part time basis...

If the school isn't onside, it's not the end of the world but be braced for a long fight. 

In our case the school was completely against the idea and the LA didn't help either so we've funded the programme privately and pushed for ABA in her EHC plan once we had sufficient evidence showing its effectiveness.

The judge was critical of the LA/school's stance against our daughter, who proposed on the basis of her autism, budget and slow progress a specialist school setting.

For the ABA, you will need to have a strong Consultant (accredited with at least a BCBA certification) to start initially with a home based programme. 

The log of your child's programme will prove crucial should you end up in tribunal as it will illustrate progress.

An Ed Psych will prove necessary too as the school /LA have their own ed psych who will be the key witness at tribunal. 

LA ed-psych will always recommend against ABA even if it is working- ultimately it's a budget issue for the LA.

You should look to appoint an Ed Psych to carry out an assessment at the outset of the programme and re-assessment annually - again so you can illustrate that the ABA is working.

Finally, document everything, good and bad - emails, letters & notes chronologically. Any ABA programme that you undertake should be recorded as video evidence will assist greatly. We were allowed a 15 minute dvd of video evidence in tribunal- we made a compilation to illustrate skills gained and to rebut the lack of skills that the school / LA tried to portray that our daughter lacked. 

The above is a snapshot. There is a lot to do and take in."

Building a bridge over the swamp for others to cross...

ABA in mainstream 

Good news of an ABA/mainstream school win (without tribunal) shared with the ABA-UK yahoo group by a Leeds mum, and I like her thought at the end: that every win at tribunal by a fighter family helps make ABA more acceptable and paves the way for the next family - 'you are making the path a bit easier for those who follow'. Thanks to MP for allowing me to share here. 


Dear all,

Thank you for all your guidance & encouragement from the very first day I posted in this group... Thanks especially to you June!


We have our EHCP final version now- with our second choice school named on it & we are over all glad with the outcome! We were extremely lucky that we didn't have to go to a tribunal to get what we wanted! (We didn't think the first choice school was worth the fight when we had an equally good second option  & in some ways maybe better suited for him!)


What we were looking for -full time school with full time ABA trained TA during term time (that is 38 weeks per year) with 4-6 weekly ABA supervision ( i.e 3 hour workshops by our Child Autism UK case manager). What LA offered us -the funding allocated to him (which works out about 15.5 K - 6 of this from school SEN budget, 9.5 top up) to use for TA + supervision.


We agreed to a virtual budget for TA & whatever remains in his pot to go towards ABA case manager fees (which we said we would be happy to top up if required- we plan to use his DLA towards this like we have already been using)


Like others before us getting nursery on our side was vital ( he attends a private day care nursery & gets his E banding FFI from LA to them- we convinced them to let his one on one staff have ABA training - initially they too did about 3 hrs sessions of one on one of intensive behavioural intervention per day, now they do more of generalisation & maintainence of skills & ABA shadowing throughout the day & he still has EIBI at home). Guess they saw how much progress he was making as opposed to only intensive interaction as per LA training they had got & were more than happy to support our request for ABA.


Thank you to all those parents who have taken our LA (Leeds) tribunal before us - they are more open to ABA now & are actually willing to negotiate early in the consultation process. I think the fact that they have been previously been taken to tribunal & have lost & also they have seen children on the programme do well helped us to get ABA without much of a legal battle. (and ofcourse we had evidence of his progress on ABA). 


Those of you who are having to take to tribunal please fight on- you are not only helping your child but you are also making the path a bit easier for those who follow you & hopefully helping in making ABA more acceptable in mainstream schools.

Legal advice on Personal Budget

Legal tips - Fiona Slomovic 

Renowned SEN legal advocate Fiona Slomovic (   ) kindly spoke to parents at Focus South London yesterday about how to maximise chances of winning funding for ABA. Good news is she says she is seeing more tribunal wins for ABA families, esp. ABA plus mainstream. I was taking notes, and her top points were: 'get the headteacher onside, they are often more open than you think as know they need more autism expertise in their school'; 'make sure your ABA program is pukka - proper meetings, reports, notes, BCBA/MSc at top, tutors with good CVs and preferably RBT'; 'keep meticulous evidence of progress made with ABA and dissect each IEP report to show (lack of) progress elsewhere'; 'be really respectful of the school, they are in charge there not ABAers'; 'choose LAs without units or much ASD-specific provision, as less easy for them to argue they are meeting needs'. Better notes to follow, but totally generous lady to share her encyclopaedic knowledge of the law and the tribunal system, and so nice/down-to-earth. 



Freedom of Information Requests Project

This project was undertaken by Verity Bradley and Cameron North-Bates, who submitted Freedom of Information (FOI) requests regarding ABA provision to all 210 Local Authorities (LAs). Knowing what the attitude of a given LA is towards providing ABA is useful both to individual families and also to our legal case. For instance, it is unlawful to place a "blanket ban" on any one therapy type, as the law requires LAs to look at a child's individual special educational needs, rather than just give them what's on offer.

Verity and Cameron asked the LAs these four questions:

1. Please can you tell me how many children are receiving an Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) provision - whether it is provided in an ABA/VB* home programme, in an ABA/VB primary or secondary special school or alongside mainstream school at any age in a part-time home/school programme. *ABA is sometimes called VB or Verbal Behaviour.

2. Please can you tell me how many of them had Applied Behaviour Analysis due to a tribunal order and how many receive this without a tribunal? If without a tribunal, had parents initiated legal action but reached settlement with you for ABA before tribunal took place?

3. Please can you forward me any policy documents that are associated with the awarding of any Applied Behaviour Analysis provision and demonstrate how the provision is made.

4. Finally, please could you explain your rationale for awarding Applied Behaviour Analysis without tribunal orders? Are your criteria for awarding ABA laid out on your SEND Local Offer page?

For the responses to Verity, click here.

For the responses to Cameron, click here.

Please note, not all LAs have responded.

To see the responses as a spreadsheet for each area, see the following: 

North East England

South East England

North West England



Northern Ireland

ABA friendly echp wording
Advice on ABA in mainstream settings

On this page you will find:

Legal tips
Freedom of info requests project
bottom of page