This week is Autism Awareness Week (1-7 April 2019). Autism is a lifelong, developmental disability that affects how a person communicates, how they relate to other people around them and how they experience their environment. To support and develop awareness, Stanhope Barrington C of E School will be celebrating ‘Autism Awareness Week’ by engaging the whole school (pupils and staff) to develop their understanding of Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC). By nurturing and developing understanding of ASC, everybody in the school community can work collaboratively to support and befriend children with autism.
Here are some perspectives from two of our Teaching Assistants…
Teaching Assistant 1:
I currently work as a Teaching Assistant at Stanhope Barrington C of E Primary School. My understanding of autism is that it is a lifelong condition that affects many individuals in different ways. Some examples of characteristics related to autism are that some individuals may have cognitive difficulties, behavioural issues and social interaction difficulties. However, no two individuals are the same as the spectrum is so wide.
Linking to my job, everyday is different as you do not know how the child is feeling from day to day. Some days can be more challenging than others; however, seeing a child progress knowing that you have supported them with their learning and development is the most rewarding. In school, there is going to be a display in the main hall to increase awareness of autism. I hope that Autism Awareness Week helps everyone to understand the challenges and difficulties a child with autism may face. Everyone is unique and everyone should be treated equally.
Teaching Assistant 2:
I’m a Teaching Assistant at Stanhope Barrington Primary School and I spend most of my day supporting children with special educational needs.
Autism shouldn’t be seen as an illness, it’s just a brain that’s wired differently. I spend a typical day supporting and encouraging children with individual needs to reach their full potential. I do this through supporting children 1:1 and creating meaningful learning experiences which excite their interests.
I can find my role challenging at times but also extremely rewarding. My favourite part of my role is finding innovative ways to help children feel comfortable and less distressed in a busy school environment. I enjoy learning and trying new strategies to enable children with complex needs to access the curriculum effectively. An important part of my job is ensuring that I create a predictable routine where children always know what is happening next and throughout the day. This can help decrease anxiety in a child with ASC. Although children/people with ASC can be negatively impacted by their disorder in life and learning; there are also positives worth celebrating.
From my experiences of working with children on the autistic spectrum, I have appreciated the opportunity to learn that they have some amazing skills (which can go unnoticed) including: great skills in visual learning; unique thought processes; good at spotting patterns; can develop expertise in areas of interest; great observation skills; accepting others; and can be creative with fantastic imaginations.
Be sure to visit the National Autistic Society website to find out more about ASC and to find out ways to get involved in increasing awareness of this condition.