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New article: ‘Let’s Talk Autism’ -a school-based project for students to explore and share their experiences of being autistic
Kathryn Stevenson, Katie Cornell and Vivian Hinchcliffe
Understanding what autism means on a personal level can be an important process for young people on the autistic spectrum, and being able to reflect on this and discuss with autistic peers can be particularly helpful. However, opportunities may be restricted by reluctance to talk about diagnosis and because of difficulties in communication inherent in autism. This article describes a therapeutic media project within an ASD school that attempted to support young people to reflect together about what autism meant for them and create resources to share with others.
The process is described and main themes of discussions analysed using thematic analysis. Main themes emerged of making sense of diagnosis, experiences of difference and transition to adulthood. Various strategies to manage diagnosis and negotiate identity also emerged. Issues around informed consent and confidentiality and the therapeutic value of such groups are discussed.
Supporting girls on the autism spectrum.
Barry Carpenter and Jo Egerton
Nasen, the UK’s leading organisation supporting those who work with or care for children and young people with special and additional educational needs and disabilities (SEND), has launched a free miniguide to supporting girls with autism spectrum conditions/disorder (ASC/ASD).
Girls and Autism: Flying under the radar, is a 20-page full-colour guide designed to alert busy teachers to the hidden struggles of girls with ASC/ASD. Misunderstanding of their support needs, it suggests, may lead to unnecessary school exclusion and mental health disorders.
Behaviours stereotypically associated with autism are now widely recognised by most teachers – the high-intensity interests (e.g. trains, mechanisms, dinosaurs) and the self-regulatory and anxiety-associated behaviours (e.g. flapping, jumping, resonating noises, meltdowns). However, now researchers are warning that these behaviours are not equally indicative of ASC/ASD in both boys and girls.
‘Ironically, it seems we, as professionals, have been over-focused on the detail and not seen the bigger picture,’ says co-author Jo Egerton. ‘It is not the object of interest that is key, but the extreme intensity and duration of interest that sets girls and boys with autism apart from their typically developing peers.’
A young girl with autism may, for example, collect hundreds of identical pictures of her favourite pop star or develop an unusually encyclopaedic knowledge of fashion, Egerton says.
‘Rather than externalising their ASC behaviours, it seems that girls are more likely than their male peers to suppress them, to assiduously study and copy peers’ socially acceptable behaviours, and to adopt more internalised and invisible relief from stress (e.g. self-harm, eating disorders).’
This means that their ASC/ASD is likely to go unnoticed, she adds, unless their school knows how girls with autism ‘fly under the radar’.
The Girls and Autism miniguide – which comes out of the UK’s National Association of Head Teachers’ Autism and Girls Forum chaired by Professor Barry Carpenter CBE – is a first step for teachers in becoming more informed. It introduces the debate around autism and gender; identifies key issues for girls with ASC/ASD; provides practical school-based support strategies; shares family, professional and academic perspectives; and signposts further reading.
‘Our challenge in schools is to evolve a curriculum and pedagogy that are responsive to our new understanding of girls with ASC/ASD and their specific needs,’ Professor Carpenter says. ‘This will involve a process of inquiry, to investigate and explore, for and with the girls, how best their needs can be met.’
You can download your free copy of Girls and Autism: Flying under the radar here.
For the National Conference on Girls on the Autism Spectrum ; The BIG Shout, to be held in London on 27th January 2017.please click here http://www.naht.org.uk/welcome/naht-events/conferences/girls-on-the-autism-spectrum-the-big-shout-conference/
In this briefing paper, Barry Carpenter looks at who are the children whose mental health are particularly vulnerable, and discusses how the creation of a curriculum around Emotional Well Being, may reduce this significant barrier to achievement. The paper also looks at Mental Health as a pervasive Complex Need in children of all abilities.
These companion articles from the SEND journal , written by Barry Carpenter, Jo Egerton and Stas’ Samagala, are relevant to schools and settings in this time of evolving educational approaches and interventions to support children and young people’s mental health and emotional well being. As the title suggests current thinking for neuroscience is applied to the rich range of narrative based resources in the ‘Beyond Words’ series of books and on line materials.
Click the thumbnails below to open each article.
Following the work of its Complex Needs Review Group , Chaired by Professor Barry Carpenter, nasen is delighted to announce the publication of the latest free legislative updates to the Complex Needs training materials.
This comprehensive online update sets out the most pressing legal responsibilities above and beyond the Children and Families Act 2014.
Whether you’re a SENCO, teacher, teaching assistant, governor or manager, these slide-based online materials are a rich resource designed with you in mind.
Access the key information that you’ll need for your school and ensure that you meet all of the necessary legal requirements for your setting.