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Lynn McCann

Our Blog will include contributions from a number of autism specialists. Lynn, Matt and Emma work for Reachout ASC, plus occasional guest bloggers.
We love to hear about your ideas, opinions, challenges and tips so please join in the conversation!
Lynn McCann
Lynn McCann began working as  a mainstream class teacher and was an early years lecturer and SENCO.   More recently I have over 10 years experience in autism education, outreach and training in a specialist education setting.   I have training and experience in autism theory and research, PECS, Sensory Integration, SCERTS, TEACCH, ASC and Puberty, Social Stories and Forest Schools. 

Why Whole School Autism Training is Money Well Spent

​ I first heard the term 'autism' in 2003.  I was an early years teacher at the time and the class list for the new year informed me that I had three statemented children, two who had autism, one with cerebral palsy and a couple of children who were under investigation for global development delay.  By then I had been teaching for 12 years, been trained in SEN and had always been interested in supporting pupils with SEN.  These children had teaching assistants assigned to them, we considered ourselves a well organised with an inclusive environment and I was really looking forward to getting to know the children and meeting their needs.  But it turned out a little more difficult than we anticipated…

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Guest — Bren
The main issue I see with certain schools is the 'oh, it's too much effort, it'll take up too much of my time, they've got to get ... Read More
Friday, 06 November 2015 9:09 AM
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Bullying and Autism. We SHOULD do something.

When I was a girl we played out in the street with all the other kids in the street.  There was one boy in our group we all called 'fatty Norman' and would often make fun of him and leave him out.

At the same time, at school,  I was called names because I looked liked Olive Oil from the Popeye cartoons.   My siblings were called names because they had ginger hair.   At some point we were left out, called cruel names and even pushed around or hit because we were different.... 

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Are Schools Doing Enough for Pupils with ASC?

Now there's a question. Actually it's the question next week's #behaviourchat on twitter (Monday 30th Nov 8.00pm) is going to be discussing,  and as I've just started a yoga class at that precise time, I thought I would give my contribution in this blog post.

Everyone knows that Autism or ASC diagnosis is on the rise, and in the past ten years or so I have seen more and more children (and adults) being diagnosed. Hardly a day goes by without me hearing of someone else who has been diagnosed as a child or adult.   Almost every school has one or more pupils with a diagnosis and increasingly more complex children are attending mainstream schools. 

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Inclusion Is Hard Work...But Don't Give Up!

Here at REACHOUT ASC we are committed to making mainstream school work for children with Autism.  There are many benefits of staying in the mainstream system, such as a supportive peer group, wider opportunities, good life chances and inclusion in the community.  This doesn't mean that special schools don't give these things, but we are committed to inclusion because we believe it can and should work well for the pupil with ASC (particularly those who are academically able) and their peers, so all benefit from being and learning together.

The reality is that inclusion is hard.  There are so many factors involved from the environments to lack of funding; from attitudes to lack of understanding and resources.   We have seen inclusion work really well, at primary and secondary schools, and we have seen it fail, and the person who it fails the most…is the child. 

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The right way to use Visual Timetables

I bet anyone whose ever had a specialist in to advise them how to support a pupil with autism has been told to use a visual timetable.   I bet it's written down as a strategy in almost every statement or EHCP for ASC pupils.

You might have a visual timetable on your classroom wall.  You might remember to put up the schedule for the day…every day…and even to take off each picture as you finish each activity.   You might be remembering to do this for a child's individual visual timetable.  Well done if you have.   However,  if you haven't had them explained to you properly, it can easily seem as a lot of work for little reason...

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The SEND Reforms so far...?

As travelling Autism Specialist Teachers, Emma and I are privileged to gather a wider picture than most of how the 2014 SEND Reforms are being implemented and working 'on the ground'.   We travel through my LEA, one of the biggest in the country, supporting and advising primary and secondary schools and have been involved in many conversions and new applications for EHCPs.  We've attended SENDCo forums, SLT forums and met EPs and other professionals along the way.  All of us are talking about the Reforms and how they are developing...

So what have we discovered? 

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We are all different...So why don't they see it?

​I've been doing some work with some girls with Autism Spectrum Condition recently and they have been amazingly perceptive about the reasons why they are left out, teased or ignored by their peers.  All of them have talked about not understanding why all the other girls want to be the same as each other and why one minute they are as nice as anything to them, and another time nasty and cruel.  (Two faced!) 

Don't they just have a point! 

Last night I went along to a Poetry Performance from two great poets, Mike Garry and Dr John Cooper Clark.  I haven't written a poem since I was at school, but inspired by them and these amazing girls that I work with I have tried...


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Spoon Theory and Children with ASC in School.

My friend @AnnMemmott who blogs at  http://www.annsautismblog.co.uk  first introduced me to the Spoon Theory in relation to autism.  It was originally created by Christine Miserandino when asked about her chronic illness, (you can read the original post here http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/ ) but is a great way of helping us understand why school is such hard work for children with autism.  @aspiemusings has also written a good post about how it relates to her as an autistic adult. http://musingsofanaspie.com/2014/10/15/conserving-spoons/

Let's imagine that the social and intellectual energy a child has each day can be measured in spoons….

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Recent Comments
Guest — Catherine Cronin
Thanks Lynn....I can fully relate to the spoons theory for myself, not to mention the children you know in our setting. I had a no... Read More
Saturday, 20 February 2016 7:07 PM
Guest — Lisa Savage
I've heard exactly the same thing explained with the metaphor of a glass of water. If we start the day with ours empty, an autisti... Read More
Monday, 22 August 2016 8:08 AM
Guest — Emma Plus Three
This is great, really helps me to understand my sons behavior. x #SpectrumSunday
Wednesday, 24 August 2016 9:09 PM
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Autism in the Early Years

This post is a promised contribution to #childcarehour run by @LyndseyJF @blueybaloo and @earlyyearsideas

Children can be diagnosed with autism before they are 5, but there will also be a significant number of autistic children that are not diagnosed until later.  It is therefore important that early years staff are aware of what autism is, how to recognise the signs in young children and what they can do about it.  Training is important, as is good observation skills and awareness of other SEND conditions, as it may not necessarily be autism. 

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#Teacher5aDay Easter update

We bought a worry eater to remind us not to worry! http://www.brightminds.co.uk

It was just before Christmas that I came across #teacher5aday and at first I didn't know how interested I would be in the well being of teachers all over the country.  I hardly knew any of them, so why should I care?

But what I have found is a community.  People doing the same kind of job, with the same kind of troubles and pressures.  All trying to navigate the changes, government missives and day to day demands of teaching.  Many have their own families who need them too.  It's our commonality that makes #teacher5aday so encouraging. I hope if you are a teacher you gain something positive from it too. There is so much positivity around, thankfully... so much determination to do a good job, teachers wanting to look after themselves so they can do a good job, and to save just a bit of themselves for themselves and their families.  That's why when I came across #optimisticEd too, I was pleased to find teachers finding positives in the day to day things and sharing their love of teaching.  It's a profession that is under so much attack, many are leaving (and I can't blame them) but a profession where inspiring people are needed. Children need us. 

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