Our website use cookies to improve and personalize your experience and to display advertisements(if any). Our website may also include cookies from third parties like Google Adsense, Google Analytics, Youtube. By using the website, you consent to the use of cookies. We have updated our Privacy Policy. Please click on the button to check our Privacy Policy.


Reasonable Adjustments

Reasonable Adjustments

Reasonable Adjustments

Reasonable adjustments are changes that your school or family makes to remove or reduce a disadvantage because of your neurodivergent needs around routine and change.  You can ask for reasonable adjustments to be made. 

Managing behaviour in school from an article by Catrina Lowri

It is true that all children need boundaries to feel safe, supported, and successful. However, rigidity in defining and enforcing these boundaries can lead to automatic sanctions for types of behaviour that are more often displayed by neurodivergent children (ND). 

This would go some way to explaining why suspensions, exclusions and attendance issues are disproportionately higher in these and other SEND pupils than in their neurotypical peers.

Whether we refer to rigid behaviour management policies as ‘no excuses’, ‘zero tolerance’ or even ‘warm strict’, a neurodivergent pupil is negatively affected by such attempts to view all behaviour through the same lens.

Neurodivergent individuals include those with conditions such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and others, who may have unique learning and behavioural needs.

Let’s look at some ways in which rigid behaviour policy might affect pupils with these conditions.

Misinterpretation of behaviour

Pupils may exhibit behaviours that teachers and school staff misunderstand. For example, a student with autism may engage in stimming behaviours as a coping mechanism. We can misinterpret these behaviours as disruptive or non-compliant, leading to punitive measures. 

Inflexible discipline

Rigid behaviour policies may have a one-size-fits-all approach to discipline that doesn’t take into account the individual needs and characteristics of ND pupils. These policies often rely on punitive measures like detention, suspension, or expulsion, which can exacerbate the challenges ND pupils face.

Overemphasis on conformity

Pressure to conform to standard behavioural norms can make it difficult for ND pupils to express themselves or learn in ways that suit their unique needs. This lack of a sense of belonging can lead to feelings of frustration, anxiety, and exclusion.

Challenging environments

Some ND pupils are sensitive to sensory stimuli, which can be overwhelming in a typical school environment. Strict behaviour policies that do not accommodate sensory needs can lead to meltdowns or shutdowns in these students.

Communication difficulties

ND pupils, especially those with conditions like non-verbal autism, situational mutism or social communication disorders, may struggle to express themselves effectively. Teachers may apply punitive measures when students are unable to communicate their needs or intentions clearly.

Inadequate support

Rigid behaviour policies often lack the necessary support systems for ND pupils. Schools may not have trained staff, resources, or individualised education plans in place to address the specific needs of these students.

Disproportionate punishment

ND pupils may receive harsh punishments for behaviours that appear deliberately disruptive, but in fact stem from their neurodivergence. This can contribute to a cycle of negative behaviour and discipline, hindering their academic and social development.

The solutions – more inclusive behaviour management

To address these issues, it’s essential for schools to adopt more inclusive and flexible behaviour policies. This doesn’t mean lowering standards. Far from it.

What it does mean, is looking at the strengths and needs of individuals and cohorts and adapting behaviour policies to provide support for both pupils and staff. 

These measures should include:

  • provision of staff training
  • the creation of individualised behaviour plans
  • sensory accommodations
  • the fostering of a culture of acceptance and understanding 

Inclusive policies like these can help neurodiverse children thrive academically and socially, unhindered by expectations that can sometimes seemed designed to see them fail.


Here are some ideas:

Use of more varied communication types – such as visuals and objects of reference.  Maybe even emails from your teachers to give you advanced warning about things.

Having a well-designed timetable and clear information of when you need to bring different things into school such as your PE kit or art supplies.

Help to make sure you understand your homework instructions and when it is due in.

Having adequate warning of changes such and supply teachers, different classroom and tests and exams.

Offering time out for sensory breaks or to re charge after a more demanding task/activity.

Having a quiet room to reflect and relax in. Potentially with sensory equipment.

Being able to use sensory and stress relieving items in classrooms or when out shopping.

Wearing noise cancelling headphones in the community or in a noisy environment.

Reasonable adjustments may also be possible around uniform.

Having specialist help (liaison nurses) and support at health appointments- additional time, quiet room, having the first or last appointment. This can be described in a Hospital Passport.

Skip to content