Autism Lead Project
Third Session Update
Author: Vanessa Oldham, Leader of Outreach and Inclusion, Freemantles School
This half term, the Autism Leads group completed the third tier of the AET program. We had a more in-depth look at some of the cognitive theories behind aspects of autism and thought about what our ideal autism-friendly school would look like. In reality, mainstream schools have a lot of limitations, but it was great to have a think outside of the box and use this to then prioritise what can be achieved in mainstream setting. This was the last compulsory session for the senior leaders, but some have decided to join us for other strategy-based sessions later in the year. This is great and just shows the fantastic enthusiasm Woking schools have in getting support right for autistic youngsters.
We also had two sessions looking at different aspects of Social Understanding, including how to write Social Stories and draw Comic Strip Conversations. I am hoping that the group now feel confident in these strategies, but I recognise that both can take a lot of practice. That is where our networks meetings can really be of use, to share stories and help each other to problem solve. It was also really interesting to get feedback about the sort of messages that schools are given by other Surrey services.
It seems that sadly not all professionals are coming from the same position of knowledge and some inaccurate information is occasionally shared, particularly around Social Stories. The key message is that Stories are not written to change behaviour. They are written to fill a gap in knowledge and understanding, or to give new information. This may hopefully have the effect of changing behaviour, but that is not the focus; it makes a big difference in terms of the way that Stories are worded and is vital in ensuring that they are physically, socially and emotionally safe.
Justin planned to raise the issue of professional’s autism knowledge of as part of discussions around SEND 2020; the counties longer term plans for special needs which include a work stream to promote inclusion. I will also take specific concerns back via liaison meetings between ASD Outreach and other services.
Upcoming dates for the Spring Term:
- 14th January - Structured Teaching to Support Learning in the Classroom @ Beaufort School
- 10th February - Autism and Happiness, followed by Network Meting @ Beaufort School (1.15 start)
- 15th March – Intensive Interaction @ Beaufort School
- 23rd March – Network meeting @ Freemantles School