I am trying to put together a form of workbook that teachers are able to use within mainstream classrooms to help hetter understand children that are on the spectrum.
I find that too often children labelled as autistic are viewed only by their "disorder" and people forget this is a unique individual.
I understand there is a wide spectrum of needs, but I think a focus on positive interactions will help break down the barriers labels create.
Thanks for your time
At the time I would have liked them to know that I wanted to be able to fit in and socialise and I tried really hard but unfortunately that wasn't something that came easily to me at all. And I needed more help with that like others need more help with maths and spelling. I so often was made to feel like issues with my peers were my fault when I was at school and was constantly told to make more of an effort.
I'd also like them to have known that feeling of dread and anxiety I got every time they told the class to put themselves in groups. Apart from finding group work incredibly difficult, I was always the kid that ended up without a group. That rejection stung every time.
I wanted them to understand that I wasn't a bad kid. I didn't mean it when I got angry, I needed help in learning to deal with that. Shouting at me didn't help. I needed time and space and a little understanding.
And as qwerty has mentioned above. A lot of what I did was not intended. I didn't mean to be rude, I didn't know I was being rude. I didn't mean to do the wrong thing, I just completely misunderstood the instructions.
Now, I would like my old school and teachers to know that I am autistic. That the "naughty" kid they had written off and said would never amount to anything just needed some different support.
I understand where you are coming from. The wee man I have worked with for a year (now aged 9), though his IEP said that social skills were a priority, they we're only places after his curriculum skills and his former worker didn't focus on them at all.
I flipped it around and began teaching him to play tag and hockey (two games he showed an interest in, though hockey was more running around sometimes hitting the ball, other times using the hockey stick to play pretend).
To begin with, we took a younger girl with us and another worker. This girl is very sweet, she has global dyspraxia and also selective mutism. There was no pressure on my wee guy to talk to her, they just played. At first parrallel play but then they started actually engaging with each other.
We then started with children in the classroom, at first the girls because they were less full on and let him dictate what he was comfortable with.
By the end of term 4 (last term at school in nz finished on December 13), he was coming inside arm in arm with a group of boys as well as engaging with girls.
When the kids saw past his "weird" and saw his really awesome sense of humour, they were more willing to accept him and teachers and other adults were too.
His classwork has also improved purely because I don't let people growl at him for things he can't help. He is stimming way less and only gets anxious and silly during tests.
That's why I want to put together a sort of manual of pages that can be photocopied or used as templates to get past the autism label and past the naughty label.
I want to make it as user friendly as possible, ie: accessible to kids that struggle with writing or are non verbal as well as kids that are capable of both. School should be accessible to all students.
I know the main purpose of a school is the work but I do think it is massively underestimated the impact that lack of social skills and communication difficulties has on this. I also hated school so much because I didn't fit in (but was well aware of this) it made it very hard to put much effort in. I had a huge feeling of nothing is ever good enough during my school days.
It's a great thing you are trying to achieve.
I think I will do a section on academic work too. Unfortunately that also isn't always well suited. Particularly reading comprehension strategies etc. The questions asked aren't well suited and put way too much pressure on the child.
I have been looking at social skills a lot (have done a fair bit of psychology study). Do you think emotion recognition, communication strategies etc would be helpful or just teaching a child to play and some of those things will come through play?
I definitely think communication strategies as well. Both strategies for the teacher to effectively communicate with the child and for the child to develop their own communication. Emotion recognition is much harder. I think you can work with a child on the basic emotions, and it's important to help them recognise what they're feeling. But recognising it in others is much harder. I can recognise your basic emotions but I get very confused about more complicated ones. And I find it baffling when the emotion and face don't match. For example when someone seems angry but they are smiling. The other thing that it would be important for teachers to know is an autistic persons emotional response might not be what is expected. I don't show emotion well unless its extreme so I can be really happy about something but people assume I'm disappointed because I don't look happy. People may also smile when the situation is serious.
Thank you. I find most kids that have asd struggle to express themselves, even what they need. I was so proud of my wee man when he told me he loved me. That must have taken a lot for him.
Emotion recognition is hard as it is also dependent on context. People can mask what they feel,but recognising what the "context" suggests may help recognise the emotion.
I could probably do some worksheets or card game templates to help with that.
I think it is definitely worth something to try and help with emotion recognition. But also that the educators that may be less experienced with ASC should be aware that some will find it more difficult than others and shouldn't become another demand.
Yes expressing what they need is a huge one. I have known they intelligent ASC children who struggled to even say they needed the toilet. I personally find asking for help incredibly difficult even at 29.
Again I think it is amazing what you are trying to do. I would be very interested in seeing the end result.
It's such a contrast in teaching styles. I'm training to be a full teacher next year, after years of studying psychology and working as an educational assistant.
I'm so over hearing the negative from people all the time, even other aides.
The amount of times I've said to an aide not to talk like that in front of the child is astounding. All it does is reinforce what the child already feels about themselves but for some reason the aide or the teacher just doesn't see that. Like they think "oh he struggles with work, he must be stupid" but that isn't the case. All children have some ability, it's finding it and relating it to other subjects that helps a lot. For wee man it is dinosaurs, so to engage him in mathematics we went outside and measured dinosaurs on chalk then drew them (also good art lesson there) then o encouraged him to give spelling their name a go (good phonics practice and he became more interested in spelling after that so he could connect it to his dinosaur interest).
One that really annoyed me was a teacher laughing when a child suggested she might like to be a doctor one day. Totally squashed her dream before she even had a chance to work towards it. She may never have achieved that Dream or her interest may have changed as she was only 8 at the time, but by laughing at her, the teacher was telling her it wasn't safe to share her dreams and she wasn't capable so why bother trying.
It is so saddening that people can't see how their comments affect children. And that just putting in that little more effort to personalise education can make so much difference.
It's like they think they are so "abnormal"they can't understand. It's not true at all, just because they don't always show it doesn't mean they don't internalise it. The teachers wonder how I get so much success from the children in my care. It isn't that hard really. It's believing in them and changing how I work to reflect their needs.
You should consider doing training in schools. You explain how you work really well. And so many professionals would benefit from hearing it.
Thank you. I would like to be able to do something like that. I'm training in teaching as assistants are often looked down on as we don't hold teaching degrees. Doesn't seem to matter that I achieved post graduate in psychology and have three degrees to my name already.
I'm based in New Zealand but I think it's a global issue and needs perspective from adults that have had experience within classrooms.
Kids can't always tell what they need and it's the duty of the school to try and connect and recognise that need. Before it puts the child off learning.