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

When behaviour of autistic children challenges us, some tips and advice

Autism is a different way of experiencing and thinking about the world.  Communicating in a non-autistic world (and classroom) can be difficult because it is fast, ambiguous and shifts between different people seemingly all at once.  There are many social and communication rules that everyone else seems to know but the autistic child hasn't learned, and people are unpredictable and can't always be trusted to do what they say.  Sensory messages can be overwhelming to an autistic child and some are sensory seeking because their sensory systems need the extra stimulation.  Autistic children are also able to achieve many things and are capable of learning in our classrooms – if we provide the right understanding and support for them.

Sometimes all children's behaviour is confusing, unpredictable and challenging to us.  All human beings have 'behaviour'.  It's what we do.  It's how we react, show how we feel and how we keep ourselves safe.  Behaviour is also communication when we cannot find or use words.  

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5 Ways to support Autistic Students through Exams

​It's that time of year again. Emma and I have been spending some of last sessions with our autistic Y11 students, supporting them and their teachers through these next few weeks as the GCSE exams loom. 

We thought it may be a good time share some of the wisdom we have learned along the way and give you 5 top tips to help you if you are a teacher or parent supporting a young person through this time...whatever it is they may or may not achieve, it's just one part of education...and after years of doing this, many of them do just fine...

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5 things to know when supporting Autistic students in FE

At the beginning of January I was invited to Cardiff and Vale College to do a workshop about supporting autistic students at 6th Form college.  Cardiff and Vale college support students between the ages of 16-18 and beyond, including adult learners and in many different subjects, courses and situations.  

Obviously, all autistic students are different and telling them all I wanted to share in just 90 minutes was a struggle.  So I put this information together wanted to also share this with you on our blog.  

I've organised it to tell you 5 key things I want you to know about autistic learners in FE colleges... 

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Why look for girls on the spectrum in school?

This guest blog is from Joanna Grace who I first knew through her start up of the Sensory Project in 2010.  I liked what she was proposing to do and I pitched in a tenner towards it and watched how (thanks to much more generous people than me) the Sensory Projects have grown. In her own words:

Joanna Grace is a Sensory Engagement and Inclusion Specialist, Trainer, Author, TEDx speaker and Founder of The Sensory Projects.

Consistently rated as Outstanding by Ofsted Joanna has taught in mainstream and special school settings, connecting with pupils of all ages and abilities. Since launching The Sensory Projects Joanna's work has extended into adult care for people with complex needs and dementia. To inform her work Joanna draws on her own experience from her private and professional life as well as taking in all the information she can from the research archives. Joanna's private life includes family members with disabilities and neurodiverse conditions and time spent as a registered foster carer for children with profound disabilities.

Joanna's books Sensory Stories for children and teens , Sensory-being for Sensory Beings and Sharing Sensory Stories with People with Dementia sell globally. She has a further four books due for publication within the next two years, including two children's books.

Joanna is a big fan of social media and is always happy to connect with people via Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin

In this blog she tells us why it is so important to be looking for girls who may be on the autistic spectrum...

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Autism and behaviour in secondary school

I've been reluctant to wade into the sea of behaviour debate I see in the news and on social media at the moment, but I would like to share some insights from my practice about how autistic students in secondary school use behaviour to communicate that something is wrong.  I want to show you how we might go about supporting them so that the real issues are dealt with and behaviour improves.

I do think it is important in secondary classrooms for all students to behave in a manner that enables the lesson to continue and the content and learning to happen   .It is necessary for schools to have a clear behaviour policy and a system of sanctions that are consistently used by all staff.   This provides clear expectations and clarity of procedure.

However, in my many years of experience supporting autistic young people in secondary schools I have learned that negative behaviours always have a reason, and that we can mostly be sure that the autistic student is struggling to communicate what the problem is.  They may get angry, obstinate, oppositional, withdrawn, self-harm or disruptive as a reaction to the frustration and stress of not being able to communicate and sort out a problem.  Sometimes they cannot understand what the problem is they are having.   Sometimes they are trying so hard to be good that the pressure causes them to have meltdown's, usually at home.  We need to listen when parents tell us that - it's a great clue for us that the student is stressed at school.  

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