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
I was extremely quiet at school, I specifically remember being described as "reticent" in my school report. I was comfortable with speaking to very specific teachers (I struggled more with other children my age) and would speak to freely if we were discussing something around my interest. I wasn't officially diagnosed with ASD until my early twenties, but the school had noticed I was struggling but I think they could not work out what was going on. I think because I was intelligent in some area, but less able in others I just baffled them. I wish I could tell those teachers how much I appreciated somebody taking an interest in me and being able to talk about something I actually knew about (at the time it was football).
I was sometimes embarrassed in front of the class because I was too slow in completing a task, or picked on during lessons because my hand wasn't up to answer a question and I hadn't spoken for the whole lesson. I wish they had known how much anxiety that caused and how much it overwhelmed me and that I would lock myself in the toilet afterwards and cry. I think removing expectations and pressure from the classroom would be helpful. Most of the time I tried to listen, but I just wasn't able to take part in the same way as the others. A belief from teachers that the pupil is likely trying their very best given the environment, but might need support to stay on task.
I also once went through an entire lesson without doing any work or writing in my exercise book. I had been listening to the song "Spaceman" by The Killers on my way to school that day and this was on repeat in my head. I was totally distracted by it and had literally forgotten to do my lesson or even that I was in school. I had drawn a Spaceman and Planet Earth in my book.To the teacher it looked as though I had been deliberately not trying, and that my attitude was poor. She questioned me on it after the lesson but I wasn't completely sure what had happened either. It was during the time they were beginning to realise how much I was struggling so I don't think she punished me as much as she might have, which was good. And because I was usually very honest I think she knew that something had just gone wrong but I wasn't sure what.
At the moment I am working with a mental health support worker who has given me a list of feelings so I can more accurately describe how I'm feeling instead of saying a word that I think might be right. I feel as though that would have been really helpful at school as well, especially when speaking is too difficult.
During my whole time at school, I never ever deliberately misbehaved or tried to do anything wrong. I always wanted to do the correct things but I didn't always know what the correct thing was. Sometimes school was too loud, or confusing or there was group work, or expectations to speak. Break times were also tricky and just highlighted to me that I didn't have any friends and reinforced what other pupils had said about me being weird and a loner.
I'm not sure if these are the sort of things you were hoping for but I hope it gives you a bit of an insight :)
Thank you for sharing. It's interesting you were so quiet during school. The children I've worked with tend to be loud (usually verbal stims) as they find the environment difficult.
I have found that teachers still don't always take the time to encourage social interaction. They talk about it, about how the child appears to have no friends, but they don't often do anything to support that child in building social skills and finding friends.
Interests are a massive thing. They are usually logical and make sense. Sometimes they can be extended a bit beyond the interest, ie: the child I currently work with loves dinosaurs, I managed to extend it a little to also include things like countries and weather, as we were able to find out where dinosaurs had been found and what weather they lived in.
For the list of feelings, would a description of the feeling help (like the physiological signs of that emotion).
Also do you think cartoons are able to be generalised to your life or does it need to be more realistic