Hi, just to let you know, friends on Facebook are asking how they can support me and my right to work without discrimination or bullying and I am asking them to lobby
Parliament through this link firstname.lastname@example.org. We often think of providing a service to Autistic people within schools but not realise that there actually may be teaching and
support staff on the spectrum, who are excluded and are afraid to be open as I was.due to the consequences. Has anyone seen the film about a gay man in 'Phillidelphia' who was
bullied and lost his job, well we are facing that today. I may have poor mental health right now but I still have my right to employment and was not asked to resign because I was useless
but due to the 'environment' not compatible with my autism, in the Principals words. School Academies are not autistic friendly for both students or staff on the spectrum, Government needs
Did this happen to you in a UK school? Pretty sure they can't legally behave like this here. Other then taking them to a tribunal I am not sure what other support there is. I have been extremely lucky with my employment
Yes it did and have just put a case forward to my union, Unison, I had worked there previously for eight and a half years prior to the diagnosis, before it became a very large Academy.
I've worked in education for about 6 years, I've always been completely open about my autism- on application, with other members of staff and students.
I've never experienced this at small schools (which are obviously my preference to work in), but when my small school became a big school? Horrible. Not direct bullying, but there was so little consideration of my needs as a disabled employee (I know a lot of us don't like to think of ourselves as disabled but from a legal perspective we absolutely are) from those high up the chain of command -even the ones who had previously been really good. I think it comes from being a large institution- everything is less individualised.
I would have taken them to tribunal had I not found myself a new place to work in time to save my sanity.
I have to say though that small academies can be an excellent place for an autistic employee. I have been very fortunate to spend most of my working life in amazing little academies that have really done their best to make sure I fit in and was valued. I have been able to help teachers struggling with autistic pupils to get some insight into it from the child's point of view, and I have had valuable conversations with pupils who were on the spectrum (and some who were not but had other conditions that made them feel different to their peers) who were genuinely pleased to be able to interact with an adult who was 'like them'.
I think overall I have found educational employers much more knowledgeable about autism going in than one would expect and that has been very helpful to me. I'm really sad that you're having this horrible experience at your school. :(
Thank you, I hope that I can find a happier place to work in eventually at fifty two.
I know what you mean. I'm going through a competency review right now due to my "communication issues". My union is helping me a lot, but we'll see how far I can force myself to adjust to their way of doing things.
Not that it's been a problem in the first 10 years I've been here, but I get a diagnosis and suddenly an excuse pops up as to why I'm unsuitable.
I have mixed feelings about not being the only one this has happened to. I don't want this to happen to anyone, but it's a little comforting knowing I'm not on my own.
Now it's not my job where I work to talk to the children with special educational needs, but having them myself (undiagnosed until I was 37) I know how they feel. For a while I was having regular, supervised conversations with a large group of them and it was a real eye opener. For the first time in decades I began to see past my "weirdness" and started to see value in my life.
Then a new head comes in and tells me to stop. The kids were confused at first, but I think they know I still support them. At every opportunity, if I see them upset or in any kind of distress I help them to where they need to go to get support. But it tears me apart to think that I'm not allowed to give that support because it's "inappropriate". Being told that makes me think I've been harming them, and as far as I'm concerned harming them is not easily forgiven.
I just hope I don't upset any of them if / when I find a new job.
The psychiatrist I met saw nothing wrong in my interaction with autistic children, he thought I was an asset to the school if given the appropriate support, without being too stressed. However this did not happen and the senior leadership team ignored his advice, until one evening I had a very bad crisis and ended up self harming, not a thing I have done in years, since I was fifteen. My GP was very concerned and was very angry and signed me off sick until the end of term, that's when I handed in my badge and was told that I had made the right decision. I think it's a point of view about whatever is appropriate, obviously hugs are out of the question but recognising feelings and actions similar to your own helps a child to feel valued for who they are. This idea of corrective behaviour can be very damaging, like forcing gay people to be straight. I have my own quirks and ideas, they were horrified to think that I sit in the woods on my own at lunch, listening to the birds, however my Nan and Granps often went on picnics into the countryside. What is wrong with people, difference should be celebrated and explored.
I fully agree. At most I'd say a congratulatory handshake should be as far as any physical contact goes, though I was once hugged briefly by a pupil with deteriorating eyesight after I made a tactile collage of the view from the classroom window, effectively allowing them to imagine how far away everything was.
Re-enforcing their sense of self worth is its own reward and being deprived of that has also pushed me past the brink of depression and made me feel like I need to work somewhere else, if only to hide my misery from the children I was trying to inspire.
But until I leave, I will continue to assist any pupil who needs it. Telling me not to be compassionate is like throwing me from a plane without a parachute and telling me to miss the ground.
Obviously yes there has to be that professional distance/boundary, but it's arguable that part of the job when working with kids is to provide support and guidance when they are struggling, and if a shared experience helps them to access that help I would say it's ok to tell them "I've been there".
I've not been subject to a hug, I don't like physical contact from people who aren't very close to me so that would have made me quite uncomfortable indeed! I gave another aspie student a high five once (their team had picked the NAS for a charity fundraising thing and one of the others told me they'd picked it because this boy was autistic. He looked a bit uncomfortable about being 'outed', so I just said "Awesome, me too!" and he looked quite a bit more relaxed and offered me a high five lol).
I wasn't expecting the hug, but I didn't want to upset them by telling them to stop. Thankfully it only lasted a second or two and there was no squeezing, just light back patting. I've learned to keep my distance to prevent it happening again.
But yeah, high-fives, fist bumps, hand-shakes, all acceptable in my books. Anything to boost their confidence and help them avoid becoming the broken mess that I am.
Good to hear the NAS was supported with a fundraising event. Around my place the only acceptable charities are cancer related. I tried selling my book to staff on my lunch breaks to raise money for the NAS and I was told by the new head that this was "inappropriate", yet fund raising for Macmillan and Firefly are A-OK. I'm sensing some double standards but I've come to expect that these days.