welcome to our blog

ReachoutASC:BLOG

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

Supporting Children with Autism at Playtimes.

image from http://clc2.uniservity.com/

Playtimes can be tricky for children with autism....

  • It's unstructured time - which some like (no demands) and others hate (don't know what to do or how to fill the time).
  • It's a sensory overload – which some love because they are sensory seekers and need the movement and sensory stimulation and others hate because the sights, sounds, smells, noise, weather, movement, touch and space of a playground hurts them.
  • It's socially demanding – which most don't like because there's a lot to take in, children are moving and talking and shouting and playing and coming at them from all directions.They might not know where to start to even ask to play, and possibly no-one asks them to play.
  • The rules keep changing – so when they thought they were playing one game, someone changes it to another,  just like that,  and they can't keep up and are left behind – or get angry because you changed the rules and that is stressful beyond words.
  • There's no place to escape – some will wander, trying to find their own bit of space where they can just be on their own for a bit.  Others will invent their own worlds to escape to so the noise and mess around them can be shut out.
  • It's scary and it's easy to feel angry - Children are running, screaming and pushing. How do they know when to stop?  Imagine a child with autism who is frightened, because they don't know how to stop themselves or join in without getting it wrong.  Hitting out at others is just getting them out of the way…or attempting to join in when you can't communicate so well.
  • It's exhausting – even though a child with autism may look like they're doing ok and joining in, the effort is exhausting.  You notice it when they come back into class, especially in the afternoon. Or maybe it's their parents who find out when they go home and it all comes out.  They've used up all their spoons. 
Rate this blog entry:
1
Continue reading
2210 Hits
0 Comments

8 ways to help Autistic pupils manage anxiety

I was born worrying, so my mum said.  I don't really know what it is like not to have a million worries running through my head all at once.  Every conceivable disaster is imagined once my brain focusses on a particular thought - There's a downside to having a wild imagination.

But over the years I have learned a lot about anxiety and have many strategies that work for me in coping with it.  I can manage it.  I can recognise when it comes, what it is and fight it off.   Sometimes it goes quietly, sometimes I'm exhausted after the battle.   But I usually win these days.  Anxiety doesn't control me like it used to.

There's an upside to having a wild imagination too.  I can write stories and get really involved in a fantasy world in books and films.  I love craft and sewing.   And I can empathise when others tell me they are anxious all the time too. Anxiety's energy can be harnessed for good.

When I work with children and young people who are autistic, they often seem anxious and many will tell me that they are...
Rate this blog entry:
2
Recent Comments
Guest — Emma W
Love these posts Lynn! What do you think of Carol Gray's stuff? I've found Comic Strip Conversations useful (similar idea to Emoti... Read More
Saturday, 22 April 2017 9:09 PM
Lynn McCann
Yes Emma, I use social stories and comic strip conversations all the time - I should do a post just about them! There is a chapte... Read More
Sunday, 23 April 2017 7:07 AM
Ines Lawlor
Great Blog- I also feel anxiety is a huge issue for children with Autism which really exacerbates any sensory processing difficult... Read More
Tuesday, 25 April 2017 11:11 AM
Continue reading
6433 Hits
4 Comments

Why I’m changing my language about Autism

I previously wrote about the debate about what words we might use to say someone has autism…or is autistic here.

Since then the debate has gone on and the more I listen to autistic people the more they are taking their identity and pride from being autistic.

The problem with 'having autism' or 'person with autism' is that it separates a person from autism and can easily lead to the autism as being something seen as 'bad' or 'wrong'.  There are whole charities and industries based on autism being 'wrong' and some of the treatments and so called cures are inhumane.  Anyone heard of forcing autistic children to drink bleach?  Then there are those like the charity Autism Speaks, which spends the majority of its funding on finding a cure for autism. That's why many autistic people don't like their 'Light it up Blue' campaignin April as its supporting the fact that they are the 'wrong' type of people. Autism is not a burden, a disease or a curse.

Rate this blog entry:
1
Recent Comments
Thomas Sutcliffe
Excellent post. As an autistic person I hugely appreciate the level of understanding that you have demonstrated. The key, as you c... Read More
Sunday, 04 June 2017 7:07 PM
Guest — Drew
Good post. Language is very important more so among those with the job of training! Another good read to help with deciding the be... Read More
Sunday, 16 July 2017 7:07 AM
Lynn McCann
Thanks Thomas and Drew for your comments. It's important that we keep learning together.
Sunday, 16 July 2017 7:07 AM
Continue reading
1128 Hits
3 Comments

Review of Teaching Assistant support in a secondary school

image from www.cliparting.com

This project was done by an HLTA in a large mainstream secondary school. It has around 1700 students on roll and between 2-3% of their pupils with identified SEND – with and without Statements/EHCPs. Many of those are students with a diagnosis of ASD but there are also a number of pupils with physical and other learning difficulties. I have supported the school's ASD students for the last few years which has included group and 1:1 interventions during my monthly visits which the TAs then continue to support between visits. I have done regular training and department meetings for teachers and the TA team. I asked the HLTA if I could share her dissertation findings after she gave a presentation on it during a training day I was supporting. It is interesting that she has investigated the effectiveness and deployment of the teaching assistants in the school and the effect on the student's achievements (not shown here but almost all ASD students were making good progress on the school tracking system). What has come from this is evidence of good practice and areas for development that the school are now implementing - leading to better communication between teachers and TAs.

Rate this blog entry:
1
Continue reading
994 Hits
0 Comments

Post 16 Transition for students with SEND / ASC.

At this time of year many secondary teachers are thinking about the looming GCSE's for their Y11's and may also be thinking about what happens next for their students. If a student has SEND / ASC then there are additional challenges when leaving school and moving on to the next step in their educational lives.

I often find that the student's themselves realise in Y10 that they will soon be leaving school. For some they may be so relieved that it's all they want to think about.  For other's it's such a massive change in their lives, after all, being at school is all they've ever known, that the anxiety it causes can seriously impact on their concentration, mental wellbeing and motivation in school.  Some are so anxious, they cannot bear to talk about it. 

This blog is co-written by @Mr_ALNCo an FE Teacher who's created a role for a Transition Support Worker at his FE college in South Wales. First I am going to look at transition to college or training from the viewpoint of the school, and James is going to offer advice from the college's point of view. 

Rate this blog entry:
2
Recent comment in this post
Guest — Hilary Nunns
Also ask vocational areas to provide checklists for class ie USB, calculators and allow time for students to orientate, how much t... Read More
Sunday, 05 February 2017 10:10 AM
Continue reading
1637 Hits
1 Comment

Is Peer Mentoring the Answer?

​Lately We've been listening to a lot of teenagers who struggle with school.  The ones we know are usually ASC students and struggle with social relationships, organisation, sensory issues and find school enormously challenging.  Especially in mainstream schools. This can be enormously isolating for them.  One of the things we like to try is finding them a peer mentor.  An older student or mixed age student group seems to work well, as they have the advantage of having been through some similar difficulties already.  If the mentor has ASC too, it can benefit them both.  But how do you organise a peer mentoring so that it IS successful...

Rate this blog entry:
10
Continue reading
1004 Hits
0 Comments