Mrs M continues her blog series with advice on working in a classroom with a child who has autism. She has enormous personal experience, which you will see shining through in the post, as well as very practical advice. Please do share any top tips that you have as well! – Kathy
Mrs M. writes:
Before I dive straight in with the practical tips in this month’s blog. I want to talk a little bit about my past experience, as it has shaped my whole ethos in relation to autism within the classroom.
I am a mum to a 12 year old boy who was diagnosed on the autism spectrum several years ago now. And my background as far back as I can remember is in nursery management. But as my kids became older I made the move into a primary school setting, and I soon discovered my calling as an Autism HLTA in a resourced provision.
My career path hasn’t always been plain sailing let me tell you.
I can remember like it was yesterday my first job supporting an autistic child in reception. Because despite all my training nothing could prepare me for the rollercoaster of emotions I was about to experience working alongside him.
He had almost no language and huge sensory needs. He found the transition from home to school very difficult, which would lead him to become very upset every day.
So for a while I felt totally out of my depth.
I remember feeling so worried about getting it wrong, that it stopped me being innovative and thinking outside the box. I had an awful feeling that I just wasn’t up to the job. I couldn’t seem to ‘connect’ with him.
The worry and feeling of inadequacy would keep me awake at night sometimes.
On days when he had particularly struggled, I would feel mentally and physically drained. I saw it as my fault. I felt like a failure as I didn’t feel like I was actually ‘teaching’ him anything.
But slowly, day by day I quickly learnt that this little boy was actually the one teaching me, as much as I was there to teach him. In order to enable him to learn, I had to get into his world and see things from his viewpoint.