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About smiLE Therapy

smiLE Therapy teaches social communication skills to students with a wide range of communication needs, to support everyday, short interactions with people in the mainstream community.

smiLE Therapy is:

  • designed around authentic tasks

  • social communication skills are explicitly taught

  • Learning is visual and experiential through filming and role play

  • Social skills are actively promoted within a small group which is run by two Practitioners

  • The learning design focusses on the abilities and potential of the individual student

  • Clear visual outcome measures are evaluated by the student themselves

  • Students are supported to become independent in preparation for adulthood.

  • Generalisation of skills is a core part of the therapy. Parents are offered two workshops. Staff a separate workshop. This supports future interaction opportunities so skills become skills for life.

Who is smiLE Therapy for?

It is for Children, Young People and Adults:

  • From ages 7 to 25

  • Who show a readiness and a motivation to be independent in everyday, short interactions in the community

  • Who have an awareness that there are specific skills to be learned when interacting with the public who are not aware of their communication needs

  • These children, young people and adults may be Deaf, have Down Syndrome, Learning Difficulties, Developmental Language Disorder, Multi-Sensory Disabilities or Physical Disability

  • Who attend Mainstream Schools, Special Schools, Specialist Units/Provisions, Specialist Colleges or are Home Educated

  • Who learn at a slower rate and need a module with a few skills to process, learn, remember and generalise

  • Who learn at a faster rate and can manage complex modules eg. Communication for Work Experience, Independent Travel, Interview Skills

smiLE Therapy for Autistic students (Children, Young People and Adults)

smiLE Therapy is useful for some Autistic students. There are no hard and fast rules. Below are guidelines to consider, which are ever-evolving, as new evidence emerges:

  • Is the student aware that people have brains wired in different ways, some neurotypical, some neurodivergent?

  • Can the student make intentional choice? Given information where there is no obvious right or wrong, can they process and consider it and then make a choice?

  • Is the student able to self-reflect? When a situation is made explicit for them, can they see another persons’ perspective?

  • Does the student see mistakes as being overwhelming and a bad thing? Or can they readily be supported to see that mistakes are OK and that they are learning new skills?

  • Does the student have a desire to know more about others and a desire to interact? Are they interested in knowing why people do particular things?

Finding Common Ground to bridge the gap

The Neurodivesity Collective (TNDC, states that ‘communication is a shared responsibility – its about both sides working towards understanding each other, not just one side doing all the work’. They write: “The double empathy problem reminds us that when people with diverse perspectives try to connect, their differing priorities and expectations in a communication exchange can make it challenging to bridge the gap of understanding. It emphasizes the importance of recognizing these differences and finding common ground to foster effective communication and empathy between individuals.”


Autism Awareness and Autism Friendly environments are essential to support this understanding both ways, and neurotypical people are increasingly gaining awareness of what Autism means and how individual it is, supported too by insightful programmes such as Chris Packham’s ‘Inside Our Autistic Minds’  There are excellent resources such as  ‘Learning about Neurodiversity at School Project’ (LEANS),  a free programme for mainstream primary schools to introduce pupils aged 8-11 to the concept of neurodiversity and how it impacts our experiences at school

Until society reaches this point of mutual understanding, it is essential that we use neurodivergent-affirming approaches to provide students with the skills they need to manage short social interactions in the community, should they chose to, with confidence, in their preferred way, and to understand their own needs and preferences and advocate for these.

smiLE Therapy for Autistic students is delivered in a different way, as we strive towards best meeting individual needs. It aims to:

  • provide students with a range of tools for managing short interactions in the community eg. to go to the shops or into a café. It is always their choice if they want to use these tools or not

  • prepare students to interact with people who do not know that they are Autistic

  • give explicit information that Autistic students can process in an accessible, concrete and visual way. It equips Autistic people with some of the hidden rules of such social interaction situations

  • uphold that idea that there is no right or wrong way to communicate. Autistic students can be flexible in the language and in the behaviours they use during smiLE Therapy

  • explore with the student if they managed to get the response they wanted, needed or intended when interacting with a neurotypical person in the community

smiLE Therapy would ideally be carried out after:

  • the student has had the opportunity to work through their own identity on the Neurodiversity continuum. To identify their own social and communication needs, their own sensory profile and how to be aware of their energy levels and emotions, how to recharge and recover and feel calm (Duffus, R. 2023, Autism, Identity and Me: A Practical Workbook and Professional Guide to Empower Autistic Children and Young People Aged 10+)

  • Where an identity of Autism has not been made, the Neurodiversity Paradigm can be referred to, which includes everyone, neurodivergent and neurotypical, and so gives an opportunity to talk about individual needs regardless of Neuro-Identity. A great example of this is the LEANS project

For more information on using smiLE Therapy with Autistic Students please email us:

NEXT DATES in 2024

smiLE Therapy Online Training

Day1 MAR 7th & 8th 2024 (mornings only 9-12) 

Day2 MAR 11th & 12th 2024 (mornings only 9-12)

Follow up from Oct 2023 Day1&2 training

Day3 MAY16th & 17th 2024 (mornings only 9-12)

Day1 OCT 10th & 11th 2024 (mornings only 9-12) 

Day2 OCT 14th & 15th 2024 (mornings only 9-12)


Follow up from March 2024 Day1&2 training

Day3 NOV 14th & 15th 2024 (mornings only 9-12)

smiLE Therapy free 1 hour online

Tasters for 2024

  • NELFT NHS Havering  24.09.24

  • Taster Thursday19.09. 24 @3pm UK time

  • Oxfordshire CC SENSS Team 17.04.24

  • Taster Tuesday 16.04. 24 @3pm UK time

  • Scottish Sensory Centre Thurs14.03.24 4-5pm

  • Taster Tuesday 27.02. 24 @3pm UK time

  • Taster Thursday 18.01.24 @3pm UK time

  • Somerset  Council Hearing support 16.01.24

  • Newham Council, Lister Unit 24.11.23

  • Taster Thursday 09.11.23 @3pm UK time

  •  University of East Anglia 19.10.23 

  • Taster Tuesday 10.10.23 @3pm UK time 

  • Taster New Zealand & Australia 20.07.23 

  • Beyond Autism 6th Form + P19 06.07.23

  • Sheffield Learning Disability Team 04.07.23

  • The London Children's Practice SLTs 28.06.23

  • ​University College London 15.06.23

  • Taster 22.06.23 @3pm UK time 

  • NELFT NHS Waltham Forest 07.06.23

  • Taster 23.05.23 @3pm UK time 

  • Taster for New Zealand 10.05.23 8-9am 

  • TODs, Sensory Service Team, Leicester City 

  • Taster 20.04.23 @3pm UK time 

  • Government of Jersey SLT Services 30.03.23

  • Taster 23.03.23 @3pm UK time 

  • Bristol Sensory Service Team 14.03.23

  • Taster 28.02.23 @3pm UK time 

  • Magic Words Therapy 23.02.23

  • Speaking Space SLT Practice 14.02.23

  • Taster 09.02.23 @3pm UK time 

  • Beyond Autism Schools Taster 07.02.23

  • Evelina, London NHS Service Taster 07.02.23

  • Taster 26.01.23 @3pm UK time ​

  • Birmingham University Taster 11.01.23

Email us:

to book training, arrange bespoke training at your workplace or to arrange a FREE Taster for your CEN / University / Education Authority / NHS Trust / School

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