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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

What makes transition work for ASC pupils?

image from https://tentotwenty.com

Autistic pupils can find everyday transitions difficult, as well as the major transitions that happen. The reasons can include:

  • Not being told what the change will involve,
  • What will be expected of them,
  • How long it's going to last,
  • Perceived or real sensory challenges,
  • Not being given time enough to process the changes or enough information to do so
  • Being so engrossed and comfortable in what they are doing that they cannot seem to switch attention and move to somewhere else,

Transitions can cause a lot of anxiety.

If you're involved in supporting children with every day transitions and often a visual timetable used correctly (see my blog post here) can help enormously and give the pupil some interaction and choices when appropriate. Giving them time to process and information about what to expect is important.  An example is a child who hated lining up because he didn't know where he was going.  He did everything he can to avoid lining up, such as hitting others in the hope he'd be made to stay behind.  For him, we worked with him to ask "Where are we going?";  So he didn't have to rely on an adult telling him, and the behaviours ceased. 

But what about the major transition of moving to the next class or from Primary to Secondary School...

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Being depressed isn’t part of Autism

I love working with autistic children and young people and because I spend a lot of time learning about the autism spectrum and listening to each individual child;  it can be really obvious to me that each autistic person is positive, full of strengths and talents and, given the right support, has lots of potential.

But sometimes their lives are pretty tough.

Children and young people with autism can be carers,  come from chaotic families,  be in care,  suffer from being bullied,  have other conditions such as epilepsy,  can get cancer,  have people in their family pass away,   get ill…. And also suffer from mental illness.

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Autism Awareness or Acceptance?

find out more from http://www.autismacceptancemonth.com/about/

Autism Awareness Month in April has now become a regular event. Famous landmarks have been lit up in blue, people wear blue and events are organised.

You might think, isn't this good for autism?  The more people are aware, the better it is for the 1 in 68 of our children and the adults on the spectrum?  When it is done well, it is really helpful.  But in this blog, I want to make us think about whether understanding autism people with autism (or autistic people) needs more acceptance than awareness.

The trouble is that awareness is hard to measure.  Most people have now heard of autism…is that 'awareness'?  But having heard of autism creates many problems in my experience.  Suddenly, people thinking they know what autism is, creates more misunderstanding and wrong expectations than you might expect.  For example, there are still people who think every autistic person is like Rainman.  They are expecting the child's exceptional ability to memorise the phone book or do complicated maths and are left disappointed when there is nothing of the sort.  People still believe that autism needs to be cured (to the point they will make them drink bleach), or that an autistic person doesn't want friends or they cannot live a full and fruitful life....
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Autism and Homework

picture from https://www.thetricyclecollective.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Homework.jpg

​This isn't the blog I was going to write, I was planning on one about transition (will get to it),  but I'm a member of the email-based SENCO forum and an interesting question was asked about Autistic students and homework.  It is seriously one of the biggest issues we have to deal with when we support secondary students with ASC, so I thought it would be worth sharing my suggestions here too. 

So...if you have a student refusing, never seeming to do homework, parents are saying that it is causing meltdowns and great distress, the student is always in detention for homework not being done, or their homework is of poor quality, here are some thoughts from Emma and I...

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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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