Education

I feel that the current level of understanding regarding Autism in some schools is woefully poor. As a person on the spectrum, the mother of two children diagnosed with Aspergers and also a qualified Teacher, I feel that more needs to be done in order to enable children with an ASD. I feel the education system needs to be far more inclusive in order to achieve this and that there needs to be a much better training and awareness in schools. It is my belief that too many young people are not able to achieve academically because the system is failing them whilst they are extremely able and have a lot to offer society. I would be very interested to hear the views and opinions of other people on this subject, particularly parents or young people who have been through main stream education.

16 Replies

oldestnewest
  • I agree completely. School was a very stressful time for me as someone with ASD to the point of it acting on my GCSE grades But I am now sitting my A levels with success (after some determination - took me an extra year to show them my capabilities as they didn't think I had the intelligent to flourish at an A level based on my GCSE grades - how wrong they were. I would probably be at Uni or on a gap year by now if it wasn't for that), and better support and understanding is in place now. Contributions from myself, and other ASD students, can be accounted the that. I stayed at extra year which had it's advantages as I enjoyed doing the Diploma course I was put on and it taught me a lot.

    What bothers me is the time before that when I was bullied at school (kids would see me sat next to a TA - even though I didn't need one in terms of academic understanding - and make their minds up basically) affecting me badly, making me not want to attend and the teachers would do nothing. The parents wouldn't let me change schools. So I lived with it - everyday for five years. I forgot about it for the first 2years of sixthform which is good but then I started having flashbacks - 'great fun' but hey ho.. Anyway I'm in counselling now and things are getting sorted. The bullying doesn't happen anymore and there definitely a lot of more maturity within the sixth form body, which reinstils my faith a little. :)

    I think what's needed it better understanding, and thus forth, better educatiom for the younger students. Especially as ASD is seemingly on the rise and our society is getting more diverse in general. As it's not healthy for an ASD pupil to experience further isolation and judgement and I know it can't be nice for the other students either, having to engage with a person who has a condition they know nothing about. People in authority need training for this sort of thing so I think other students do as well. Just one of the ways we can make life for people with ASD easier, and better able to fit into this world. :)

    Fay :) xxxx

  • impacted upon my grades*

    accounted for that*

  • Thank you so much for your reply and many congratulations on your success! I was also bullied throughout my school career and I know how awful this is. I believe the best strategy is to make a success of your life and you have done it! I hope to go into schools and give talks as a qualified teacher and person with an ASD so your comments are so valuable to me. Is there anything you feel would hve been beneficial to you in school?

  • Sorry I have just seen this reply as I wrote another! just thought I'd let you know! There are a few, give me a moment..

  • Hi again I'm really sorry for all the confusion about before.

    It can get confusing can't it? This comment system. I have loads of ideas and am willing to share them with you but it might be better to wait until tommorow when I'm more awake because I'm practically falling asleep. I left some more ideas, in another comment, just by coincidence. But I will be happy to go into detail in terms of my own personal experience. :)

    Most of it's to do with sensory things and how they can be improved/made easier. :) xx

  • Sorry for the mistakes and hope you're coping ok with things. It can't be easy. You're doing really well though by the sounds of it. :) It's interesting reading your story and views.

    I think better education for students alike is only half the story (less than half the story actually) too as well. Many teachers do try their best to support ASD students but I think it can be misplaced TBH. Especially when they over compensate for issues like taking things literally and the way that sounds to an ASD student. Common courtesy, is important, when it comes to things like discussing a student's progress - making sure a student isn't in the room because they can undoubtably hear what the teachers are saying! I think in our society, there are a lot of misplaced stereotypes about what Autism is ASD is. ASD is a covering term for so many different things, people can't make their mind up about someone just from hearing that term, not from any term in fact. Also it's harder for girls - I think because it's less common. I've tried to demonstrate some of my thoughts into my blogs which may be useful however they are quite confusing! I feel I'm always only ever touching on the service. It takes such a lot of time to explain myself fully. I could go on forever..

    I hope you're well at the moment.

    Take & Kindest Regards,

    Fay :) xxxx

  • sorry, surface! Tired today and performing less well. xx

  • I agree with you- I think the most valuable change that should be taking place within schools is simply understanding. Because we can often find it difficult to verbally express our needs and feelings we can be invisable to teachers. They percieve people on the spectrum through the same lens as they view neurotypical people and they need to understand how we behave and what our needs are. There are also issues around the fact that some od us exhibit asynchronous development and the misconceptions associated with that.

    My life now is a good one. I am happily married and a qualified teacher. I have five beautiful children, two of whom are diagnosed. I was not diagnosed until after I had had children and had been wrorking as a teacher, AS was not really widely known when I was younger (I am nearly 39). I feel a moral obligation to attempt to make things better for others because my life has turned out well. I appreciate what you are saying about girls on the spectrum, I am suspicious that we are as numerous as our male counterparts but that we learn to blend in, sometimes at the expense of our mental health.

    Again, thank you, your are a very articulate, intelligent person and I wholeheartedly wish you every success! xxx

  • I agree with you wholeheartedly. Understanding should be the basis for learning about us and employing the correct interventions when needed, be it educationally or otherwise. To not do that, I think, can lead to those 'behaviours' often talked about in relation to us.

    In my late twenties I did therapy for myself and it led to deepening my sympathies and moral outlook i.e. understanding of why and where people develop problems, issues and difficulties. It caused me to further sympathise with perhaps those that I wouldn't initially have as well, on hearing their woes and pains. Later in life, after my very late AS diagnosis, this developed toward those with AS, their families and friends, those struggling to get a diagnosis etc and girls and women who often went unheard or were undiagnosed. I started reading on AS and eventually female AS; I set up a female AS group; I started inviting such as Rudy Simone and Wendy Lawson to my town to help educate on AS and female AS too; I took classes in Autism to further my understanding; I gave a talk to an Autism group (I think I was the first adult AS female they'd met) and I was later invited on to this Autism group's committee. I believed wholeheartedly in putting something back into helping our spectrum community, a moral obligation to help others with what I'd learned.

    I too for some time have also not believed the usual ratio given of more AS males to females. When you consider historically that Hans Asperger and other clinicians after him, thought Autism looked as it did in males, so not only didn't query how it might look in females but also only clinically trialled males, then that research must be skewed. It follows then that the neurotypical world may not have the right answers to or for us. We then have to be the ones to correct this and Autists such as Temple Grandin, Wendy Lawson and Rudy Simone or clinicians such as Tony Attwood have and are doing an amazing job of putting that right.

    When you become aware too that the world comprises of 52% females, you can then wonder even more at just how many female Aspergers alone there might be!

    And lastly, yes I totally agree about female ASs 'blending in', and that this may be at the expense of our mental wellbeing. I'm still processing and coming out of this: so far I've processed (albeit unknowingly at the time) patriarchy, sexism, heterosexism, and now neurotypicality. BUT, I'm still here, and more knowledgeable for it. Just wished I could have had more of my life though which takes us back to your post - the right education which understands and meets our spectrum needs and does not block or oppress us, is what we need and crave to further our inherent skills, abilities and talents.

    Power to your oratory, knowledge and workings teacher!

    xxx

  • Thank you so much for your insight. I believe that with a different approach we do not need to have a difficult time, in childhood or thereafter. I believe we simply need to be understood and included-this is surprisingly tough for neurotypical people to accomplish at times but not impossible! After all, a lot of us do a fantastic job of understanding and living within a society of very different minds! One of our most wonderful features is our desire to help one another and our generosity with sharing our knowledge, without personal gain or gratification, a quality you have demonsatrated via your actions. With people like you playing your role and the many others, chipping away at the shutters-things will change and I believe the future will be better for subsequent generations. Best of luck to you- I am thrilled and inspired when I read accounts like yours. xxx

  • My son who is 5 nearly 6 was diagnosed june 2012 we are waiting for a statement he has at the moment three different ladies that help him out but the one lady who does most of the work wit him has been on sick for over 4 weeks and she has not been replaced so his routine has become very disrupted and he has been playing up.the they have no money to get anyone else in to cover her and she is the only one in the school who can teach the special needs. He has lost out one of his sessions as he was with another boy but when together another lady can't cope with them both!!, getting so fed up with it all!

  • I empathise with your situation entirely. I think that all staff within mainstream schools should have good training, including the regular teachers. I do not think our children should be placed with support staff and often they do not have nearly enough training and our children can become overly dependent on them. I think support staff should be deployed within the classroom and that out children would cope better if their sensory and learning needs were properly addressed. You can go to your Local Council and ask an inclusion officer to visit. Sometimes this is helpful. I hope things improve for you. What kind of things do would you like to be done to enable your son to be better able to participate in school?

  • For me in my school my teachers were amazing! Epically my biology, English, maths and geography teacher. They did everything the possible could for me and still spend hours If I need it going over things. But I still don't think the understand the pressures which I have to go through during exams. For example last week I had two nabs on the same day. I was stressing out as I couldn't focus on my first one as I had the second one start after it! I still passed them, but not as well as I should off. The learning support staff on the over hand are awful. They completely ignore me. I am very talkative and I am head girl in my school and have done very well, but the learning support staff still talk down to me and it is very intimidating. They also favour people who make more noice. For example I got interrupted during my actual exam last year as another girl with the SAME type of autism as me " didn't want to go to class" and she just plays the system and I failed my exam because I got so stressed and angry at her and they wasted half an hour of my exam time as I demanded her to get out and she was wrecking my future. Which she has. She gets to go out of class and gets taken alone to wonderful places and doesn't need to socialise. I understand some situations are stressful. But for me I feel that the learn support is where improvements need to be made. This person gets all of these benefits and I have exactly the same thing as I her and I didn't when I was younger. They're are a few people of who I know who have autism and do not get this "special treatment" and it really annoys me as I feel it would help them but the choose to only take the problem ones and bubble wrap her and the people who actually need the support don't get it because of people like her. I also feel that the pupils need to know more about it as my peers always say, " I wish I had extra time , reader and a scribe" but really they don't understand the pressure of having two people watching you as you try to think, twice as much pressure as they have. They just don't understand as their isn't a lot of information in my school about autism at all and it really feel this needs to get fixed. I have tried several times and failed as I explained to the council more LS staff are needed and that this girl needs to go as five people failed an exam because of her. But the ignored me as she had " autism" and that she needed support. And you can guess I wasn't happy about that as i had to stay at school an extra year, when i wouldn't of have needed too because of the lack of support i get.

  • I am glad you have had some positive experience of school. It is awful that you are not receiving the same level of support as the girl you mention. We generally find it difficult to communicate out needs and often get overlooked because others do not empathise with us very easily. I guess the other students also do not appreciate just how hard you have to work to simply be in school, so perhaps a programme to raise their awareness would be beneficial too. I still find it quite difficult to verbalise my more complex needs and tend to put it into writing-this seems to help others too because they can go over it and absorb what I have said to them. What do you think would have made life better for you in school?

  • I have found the writing here from everyone to be very informative and in dealing with a four year boy who has autism, very useful. I would like to ask if anyone has found alternative ways in which to remember things (especially information that has to be remembered for school work)?

    The thing that strikes me about the shortcomings you have found within school is this; many years ago people who suffered with dyslexia were given all sorts of horrid labels, thick, stupid, lazy etc., Now we know better and have found alternative ways to work with people who are dyslexic. In fact I have been told by a specialist learning unit, that the way dyslexics are taught now will, one day, be the way all children get taught.

    So don't get disheartened by your autism, it is us, the so called mainstream, who have to catch up and find all of the ways in which information can easily be retained by all. From sufferers of autism, Aspergers, dyslexia whatever, the solution is out there somewhere it just needs to be found. With sites like this one where everyone is supportive and knowledgeable often from experience, I'd like to think that we are all helping to reach that goal. You are all innovators and that needs acknowledging too.

    I have nothing but the deepest respect and admiration for anyone trying to achieve when the odds seem stacked against them.

    You are AWESOME

  • Thank you for your very positive comments. I have found that visual information is retained better than verbal information, which is probably because a lot of people with an ASD are highly visual, this is backed up in the literature too. You can also use any special interest to aid learning. My son hated maths until I manage to prove to him that Dr Who would have to be a very good mathematician!

    There are a lot of brilliant teaching techniques and strategies for Autism but a lot of schools do not use them. In my own case, with my children, I have to research best practice and put together research and referenced information before they will accept it. I am lucky because I am able to do this. A lot of parents are not so fortunate and ultimately schools should either do more or be given support to achieve this. The baseline knowledge in a lot is woefully poor. This is unacceptable because our very bright and beautiful children are being let down. There is currently an All Part Parliamentary Group on Autism seeking to legislate in order to address this. The National Autistic society also have a very telling survey on this. Ultimately more needs to be done here and if you are interested you can write to your local MP or to Michael Gove through the National Autistic Society Campaigns section.

You may also like...