Supporting Autistic Students’ Behaviour and Engagement by Understanding Anxiety


Thursday 23rd May 2024


9:00am – 3:30pm


The Autism Training Hub, Giant Steps, Gladesville, Sydney



Course Description

Do you teach or support autistic students who engage in ‘challenging behaviour’? Does an autistic student you teach frequently withdraw or refuse to engage in the classroom program?

Heightened anxiety is known to increase ‘challenging behaviour’ and have a negative impact on a student’s participation and engagement in the classroom. Please join us to develop your understanding of how best to support autistic students learning in your school setting.

In this one-day course, you will:

• consider the impact of information processing differences for Autistic individuals on their experience as a learner in the classroom. The course also explores how individuals understand and recognise internal states and emotions;
• understand how anxiety may manifest in the context of the classroom for Autistic students;
• explore a range of practical strategies that can be implemented in the classroom that positively support student well-being

This course is designed for classroom teachers, learning support teachers, school leadership teams and therapists supporting children in schools. It will help participants to better understand the impact of heightened anxiety on autistic children’s learning and understand how they might positively enhance a student’s experience of school through appropriate additional supports and strategies.


Presenter – Dr. Helen Appleton

Dr. Helen Appleton has a Bachelor’s Degree of Science majoring in Psychology and a Post Graduate Diploma in Social Psychology from Sydney University. After graduation, Helen became the Family and Student Support Therapist for Giant Steps Australia. In this role, she oversees psychological supports throughout our schools, with a special interest in mental health concerns, complex support needs and interagency training and liaising. She has created a school wide Siblings Support Program and is currently Director of the Rob Llewelyn-Jones Clinical Centre at Giant Steps.

Helen is now sharing her research internationally, through conferences and upcoming publications. This unique research comes from her PhD completed in 2022 and focuses on how anxiety manifests in individuals with autism and an intellectual disability.


Presenter – Rachael Bowen

Rachael Bowen is a speech pathologist and teacher who has over 16 years’ experience working with young people with autism in educational settings. Rachael has a special interest in developing the functional communication needs of young people with autism. Rachael has been working on a number of special interest initiatives including establishing The Autism Hub, an information and resource sharing platform, and investigating the literacy profiles of minimally verbal children with autism including considerations for practice alongside Griffith University. Disseminating knowledge and practical strategies is a critical part of both of these projects so others working with individuals with autism are able to apply best practice frameworks and strategies that have a solid theoretical basis. Rachael has been involved in delivering professional learning for parents, teachers, and other professionals in a range of settings.

For course enquiries or to be included on our mailing list please contact

The Autism Hub Professional Learning courses aim to increase participants’ knowledge and confidence to best support the learning of autistic children and adults. Proudly supported by Future Generation Australia.

Face to face Professional Learning courses are held in accordance with our COVID-19 Safety Plan. If COVID -19 Health Restrictions are in place, course dates will be changed to a later date in the year. Dates will be advised on our website and directly to interested participants.