BRIGHTON and Hove City Council is celebrating its success in a new programme to help students with autism at school.

The ‘Just Right’ programme was created by specialist teachers and health professionals in the city.

It has helped students communicate their emotions and needs.

The programme uses colour zones to help children understand the emotions they are experiencing and how they can go about managing them.

The colour coding is used across schools in Brighton and Hove.

Each zone has a different sensory or emotional state.

The four colour zones are green, ‘just right’, which describes the child’s emotions as calm, alert and focused.

Orange is ‘fizzy’, which means the child is feeling bubbling, not calm, anxious and possibly hyper alert.

Blue is ‘floppy or fidgety’, which signifies the student being under-stimulated, tired, bored and not alert, and possibly feeling ill.

Red is ‘crisis’ where the child is unable to cope, exhibiting challenging behaviour wanting to run away, shutting down from the outside world.

The colour coding replaces the need to use complex words to describe emotions, which, to children with autism, can seem confusing or even worrying.

Sadie Gillett, lead specialist for autism in Brighton and Hove’s inclusion support service, said: “The brilliant thing about ‘just right’ is that it is absolutely tailored to the individual child.

“Each child will have their own particular set of circumstances that keep them feeling just right.

“Parents and carers can also use the tools and strategies we develop, which gives a consistent approach across children’s lives.

“We’ve had some incredible success stories. It’s beginning to make a significant difference in our schools, and a number of parents have told us it’s making a real difference to their lives.”

Specialist teachers work with individual children and their parents to understand, from the child’s point of view, what each colour zone looks like to the child.

They also look at what the triggers are that take the child from one zone to another, and what can be done to help keep them stay in the green zone as much as possible.

This included making sure students have the same seat everyday, short periods of exercise to help them calm down, and giving students a quiet, calm and blank safe space to retreat to when they are over-stimulated or in the red zone.

Parents and teachers can get more information about the Just Right programme.

They can contact their school’s special education needs co-ordinator, email the council’s Brighton and Hove at or call 01273 265 806.