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Autism eligibility essay

Task description and guidance

If you wish to enrol on the Real Training Autism Spectrum Conditions modules without an undergraduate degree, you will need to show us that you are ready to study at Masters-level (M-level) by writing an eligibility essay.

In addition to the applied practice tasks within these modules, you will be required to demonstrate your understanding of the range of issues that relate to supporting learners with SEND by completing assignments at M-level.

With this in mind, our eligibility essay is designed to ensure that you are able to assimilate and make sense of the course content and able to organise and present your own thoughts to the appropriate standard.

What will you need to do?

You will need to complete a pre-course essay of 1,500 words (plus or minus a maximum of 10%) entitled: ‘How an autism spectrum condition might affect pupils’ learning and development.

This guidance explains what we are looking for in the essay. Please note that there is no tutoring or other support available other than this guidance.

  1. Write clearly, using paragraphs and a clear overall structure with a beginning, middle and end.
  2. Paraphrase and quote the ideas of others but also include your own ideas.
  3. Write critically – this means that you should not only describe the issues but you should demonstrate purposeful thinking. You should test ideas, put alternative points of view and make conclusions based on a sound argument.
  4. Write with originality. Do not copy from others. Where you do use someone else’s idea you should reference their work. We have included notes on how to do this below.
  5. Include a full reference list.
  6. Keep to the word limit. The references do not count towards the word limit. The assessor will not read beyond 1,650 words.
  7. Use the form at the bottom of this guide to submit your essay. It is acceptable to seek advice from colleagues but the organisation of the ideas and the writing should be yours – you will confirm this as well.
  8. We will acknowledge receipt of your essay and you will hear back from us within 10 working days.

Sources of information

You will need to do your own research and address this topic in your own way.

A key text that you may wish consult is: Feinstein, A. (2010) A History of Autism: conversations with the pioneers. London: Wiley-Blackwell. Unfortunately this book is not currently available online, but it can be purchased from most booksellers or you may be able to order it though a local library. A link to a powerpoint presentation by Adam Feinstein summarising a timeline of Autism understanding can be accessed via: http://awares.org/pkgs/online_library/library.asp (ICO8 Keynote speaker: Adam Feinstein – The History of Autism [published 22 Apr 2008])

And/or an alternative would be:

Silberman, S. (2015) Neurotribes – The legacy of Autism and how to think smarter about people who think differently. Allen and Unwin

See also the following video of Steve talking about his book/views.

Useful papers

Rita Jordan Autistic spectrum disorders: a challenge and a model for inclusion in education
AET report on provision: http://www.autismeducationtrust.org.uk/~/media/AET2/Main%20site%20images/resources/Research/AET_SummaryReport1.ashx

Useful websites

You may find it helpful to reflect in your assignment on the four areas of needs as laid out in the Code of Practice 2014.

How will we assess your essay?

We will ask three questions when marking your work:

  1. Have you demonstrated a critical awareness of how autism spectrum conditions affect pupils’ learning and development?
  2. Is your writing style clear and accurate?
  3. Is your work original and have you referenced the work of others appropriately?

Feedback on your submission

We will give you brief feedback as to the suitability of your essay in demonstrating your readiness to study at level 7 (M-level).

If the essay does not yet demonstrate your ability to study at level 7, you may be given a second opportunity to submit. If this is the case, we will highlight the areas that need further attention. We reserve the right to not consider any further submissions.

It may be that an alternative course of study would be advisable and would prepare you for study at level 7.

Write with originality

At M-level, it is important to make reference to the work of others. We use the Harvard referencing system to indicate where quotes, facts, ideas and theories can be found. Referencing the work of others will give your work authority by placing your thoughts within the context of contemporary thought. It is also important to learn how to use a referencing system accurately to avoid plagiarism and potential academic misconduct.

Our tutors use a tool called Ephorus to check for originality which helps them make academic judgements about how to assess, mark and provide feedback on your work.

Reference list

The following referencing guidance is adapted from: Middlesex University’s (2014) Harvard Referencing Guide.

You must include a reference list at the end of your work. This should include full bibliographic details of all sources you have used. The reference list must be in alphabetical order and you should leave a space between each entry. Do not use bullet points or numbers.

Please follow the examples below EXACTLY (italics, punctuation, etc.).

In-text citation – direct quotation

This is using the exact words from your research material – cut and paste if it is an online source. You must use quotation marks and give the author’s name, the date and the page number (if there is one). Example: The main approaches favoured by many teachers include ‘active listening, reading and writing’ (Brown, 2008, p. 26).

This can also be written with the author’s name in the main part of your sentence. Example: Brown (2008, p. 26) claims that ‘active listening, reading and writing’ are the main approaches favoured by teachers.

In-text citation – indirect quotation

This is known as a paraphrase. Rather than taking the exact words from your source, you rephrase the ideas in your own words. This still needs to be referenced because you need to acknowledge the original idea. It will also give you better grades because it shows that you have done some research. A paraphrase is generally better than a direct quotation because it shows you have understood what you have read. Example: Original – From Ladies’ night at MTV awards on BBC news website, 6th November 2009, by Emma Jones.

‘Beyonce took three prizes – best female, best song and best video – Lady Gaga was awarded best newcomer and Briton Pixie Lott was given the MTV push artist award. There were also performances on the night from Leona Lewis, Shakira and Beyonce – not to mention Perry.’

Paraphrase – during the recent MTV awards, Beyonce was once more revealed as a superstar when she won three awards (Jones, 2009). Note: no page number here because it is a paraphrase and it is also from a website which does not usually have page numbers.

Notes on in-text citation

For two authors include both names – (Smith and Jones, 2009).

For three or more authors, include all names the first time you mention the source, and then use ‘et al.’ after the first name – (Davies, et al. 2008, p. 27). Et al. means ‘and others’. In the reference, list the names of all of the authors (surname and first name initial).

For sources with no named author, use the name of the organisation, for example – World Health Organisation, 2007, p.230).

For sources with no named author or organisation, use the title of the article or web page, for example – Tips for a healthy life, 2009.

For sources with no date, write n.d., for example – Centre for Child Protection, n.d.

Caution – be very careful about using sources with no apparent author or date of publication.


Capitalise the first letter of each author’s last name and each initial.

Also capitalise the first letter of the publication title written in italics, the first letters of all main words in the title of a journal and all the first letters of a place, name and publisher.

Secondary sources

If you want to use a reference you find in one of your sources (for example, your textbook), you will need to use a secondary citation.

Skinner’s theory of operant conditioning is widely recognised in the behaviourist tradition (cited in Brown, 2002, p. 24).

The theory of operant conditioning is widely recognised in the behaviourist tradition (Skinner cited in Brown, 2002, p. 24).

Only the original source that you use (book, journal article, web page, etc.) should appear in your reference list, not the secondary source. In the example above only Brown would be in the reference list, not Skinner.


Include author, author’s initials, date, title (in italics), place of publication, date of publication. Brown, J. (2002). Current psychological thinking, London: Macmillan.

For a book with more than one author, include all the names and initials. Jones, P., Ali, A. and Spencer, S. (2001). Critical thinking, New York: Palgrave.

For a book with more than one edition, include the edition number. Taylor, S. (2006). Time will tell. (3rd edition), London: Sage.

For an edited book also include (eds.) after the name of the editor/s. Jones, P. and Taylor, S. (eds.) (2003). Starting your own business, New York: Harper.

If you use a book which has chapters written by different people, you need to include a separate entry in your reference list for each chapter that you use. You should also include the page numbers of the chapter that you are referring to. In addition to this, you need to include details of the main book (which is usually an edited book).

Deacon, A. (2008). Employment, in P. Alcock, M. May and K. Rowlingson (eds.), The student’s companion to social policy, (3rd edition), Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 311-318.

Journal article

For an academic journal, you need to include the author’s name, the date, the title of the article, the name of the journal (in italics), the volume and issue number of the journal and the page numbers of the article. Harcup, T.(2002). Journalists and ethics: the quest for a collective voice, Journalism Studies, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp. 101–104.

For an online journal article from a database, you need to name the database and give the date you accessed the article. Marginson, S. (2000). Rethinking academic work in the global era, Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, Vol. 22, No. 1. Available: Proquest database. [Accessed 9th August 2007].

For an online journal article from a general website, you need to include the URL. Quiggins, J. (1997). Economic rationalism, Crossings, Vol. 2, No. 1. Available: http://www.uq.edu.au/economics/johnquiggin/JournalArticles97/Econrat97.html [Accessed  24th October, 2006].

Websites and Webpages

For a web page, you need to find the author and the date, and include the title of the page and the name of the website, as well as the URL and the date you accessed the webpage. Trochim, M. (2006). Measurement, Web centre for research methods, Available: http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/measure.php [Accessed: 9th November 2009].

For a web page without a named author, you should use the name of the organisation or website as the author. Consortium for Street Children. (2009). Street children must be prime benefactors of 1GOAL campaign. Available: http://www.streetchildren.org.uk/news.asp?newsID=116 [Accessed: 25th October 2009].

Online videos

For an online video (found on YouTube, etc.), you need to include the author’s name (or the person who uploaded it), the date it was uploaded, the title of the video, the format, the URL and the date that you accessed it. Harvard Business (2008).  John Kotter on a sense of urgency, online video. Available: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5802FBaMSI [Accessed: 20th October 2011].

When you have completed your essay, please use the following form to submit it: