This is a good thing as it gives me choice and a different approach. For me, supporting pupils with autism isn’t about changing them so they fit in with most people’s neurotypical way of running, it is about creating autism acceptance – not just awareness.
Here are some ideas for your school or setting that may help towards achieving this:
- Ensure that autism, along with other conditions, is positively recognised and represented in your school or setting. This shouldn’t just be as part of awareness raising activities, it needs to be present in all aspects of school life. For example: are autistic people represented in the books chosen in the school library and reading scheme?
- Celebrate difference as part of a positive whole-school approach. We are all unique individuals and this is what makes the world a wonderful place.
- Identify autistic role models for all students. Make sure that the all pupils see the person, their skills, strengths, talents and abilities and can identify similarities and differences between themselves and others.
- Carry out peer awareness activities from early on in school so that all pupils understand what autism is, how it can present and how to be a good friend to a pupil with autism. This can be part of a much wider, whole-school PSHE offer.
- Where possible make support part of the whole classroom offer – for everyone. For example: have a whole class visual timeline. This will benefit all pupils not just those that need it most.
- Make sure all staff can recognise and understand the strengths and best ways to support pupils with autism in your school; this includes lunchtime and office staff. Pupil passports and/or one page profiles can be a really positive way of sharing information.
Most of all I believe it is important we recognise that no two people with autism are the same. Consequently, it is important to personalise our approach for each individual.
From activities aimed to encourage talking about feelings and emotions through to communication aids, our selection of autism resources for schools is designed to support your students on the autism spectrum.
With thanks to Beccie Hawes. Beccie (also known as Mrs Hawes) is Head of Service with Rushall Inclusion Advisory Team. Beccie’s team works with a number of different schools offering support, advice and challenge regarding all aspects of inclusive policy, practice and procedure.
Beccie says, “Along with the day job, I also have the pleasure and privilege of being Alfie’s mum! Alfie has been working really hard with our local Occupational Therapy team and is currently undergoing diagnostic processes for Developmental Coordination Delay and an Autism Spectrum Condition. His resources have certainly made a big difference to him and he is keen to share his experiences so that others can be helped too.”