Autism: A Primary School Teacher’s Perspective Helen Lewis
Learning objectives • To identify some of the barriers to learning encountered by children with ASD. • To identify some strategies which can be used to support children with ASD to overcome barriers to learning. • To demonstrate how some teaching techniques are transferrable to the field of dentistry.
Some statistics • October 2010 – NI School Census: • The school population in NI is approx 330,000 • There are approx 64,000 pupils (19.7%) on the Special Educational Needs (SEN) register • 60,000 (92%) of the pupils on the SEN register are in mainstream schools 4,000 (1%) of pupils in NI have a diagnosis of AS/ASD
Brownlee Primary School • Enrolment 172 • Number on SEN register – 38 (22%) • Number of children with AS/ASD – 6 (3%)
Autism Individuals with ASD are affected in their ability to: • interpret social behaviour which in turn affects their ability to interact with others; • understand and use verbal and non verbal communication; • think and behave flexibly.
Education • Education aims to ‘minimise’ (not cure) the effects of ASD on learning. • Teaching approaches should be child centered, not method centered.
Social behaviour Children with ASD may: • find social cues difficult to read; • appear socially insensitive / uninterested; • have difficulty maintaining social interactions and turn taking; • have difficulty understanding other points of view; • focus on their own obsessions.
Verbal & non-verbal communication Children with ASD may: • not understand tones of voice; • not understand non-verbal behaviours; • not be able to use non-verbal behaviours; • cause offence without being aware; • monopolise interactions; • take things literally; • not understand implied meaning.
Taking things literally Pull your socks up! I can play the piano by ear!
B A C D E lower right E lower right D lower right A lower right C lower right B
Flexible thinking and behaviour Children with ASD may: • follow rules rigidly; • not have the skills to be able to ask for help or clarification; • have difficulty prioritising and choosing; • have difficulty with organisation of self and materials; • have difficulty in seeing connections and generalising skills; • be sensitive to change.
I was sensitive to change. I was terrified of it because change leapt into the unknown and I could not get my head around what the unknown was. Nita Jackson