Here are some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on special needs.
This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
Advice on Autistic child in my class(19 Posts)
I've been a teacher for a long time but always mainstream. Never really come across many SEN children - perhaps as I've worked in Indy schools for most of my career.
I have a child coming into my class with autism and was only told yesterday. Their condition is reasonably severe. Whether they're better off at a mainstream school is for another thread but from what I know, they do benefit from and cope with being in our school.
I've found some reading but it's a) very dry and theoretical b) long. I only have next week (inset) and then class starts.
As I said, I've been teaching for a long time and am sure of my abilities and that as I get to know them I'll be able to meet their needs but I'd love to hit the ground running.
Can anyone either point me in the direction of succinct and practical advice or give me some?
I am assuming if he has severe needs then he has an EHCP plan so your best starting point would be to read the advice in that. So frustrating when teachers do not read the advice in that and we have to reinvent the wheel every time there is a new teacher.
My next advice would be to set up an informal meeting with the childs parents and ask for their advice on how to communicate and manage behaviour of the child. We can offer advice for what works with our children but every child is affected differently by their ASC and what works for one may not necessarily work with another.
On the other hand there are some general strategies you could start thinking about e.g. where he could be placed in the classroom to minimise sensory problems, allocating a safe space for him to go to if he gets overwhelmed, making up a visual timetable for him to help reduce anxiety, if touch is an issue getting him to queue up at the start or end of the line so less jostling, letting him come straight into the classroom rather than the playground, making use of his interests to reduce anxiety and engage him in his work.
I think both autism west midlands and NAS produce useful (short) booklets of guidance for professionals.
A child with an ASC will often not follow implicit instructions or follow the herd. e.g. It took ds1 about six months to learn that when the teacher said queue up for lunch she intended that he take his lunchbox with him without her having to say "Pick up your lunchbox and queue up for lunch".
If they think they are doing it the right way the fact that 29 other children in the class are doing it differently will make no impact! This is not naughtiness but simply a sign that they need explicit instruction.
On the other hand they may need simple, one step verbal instructions. ds1 for instance if given a multi-step task would most likely "hear" only one step and do that and miss the other parts. It helps for him to give a written copy of the task.
Thank you for asking for advice. Often small adaptions can make a huge difference to our children.
I second setting up a meeting or even having a quick phone call with the parents - maybe even before the school term starts; find out how their summer has been.
Our best years have been when the teacher was really open about talking to us. Also don't be afraid to admit when you're not sure how to handle something - working collaboratively with parents, SENCO, SLT and any external agencies to find a solution is best; and staying flexible too.
I never mind if teachers admit to me they are not quite sure of something and seek advice - I'm not always sure either, but hopefully by working together we can find something that helps.
Good luck, I hope you all have a really good year learning lots from each other.
Were they in the school last year? Would you be able to sit down with their teacher from last year?
Here's a what not to do:
I would definitely ring the parents now and try to arrange a meeting prior to the start of school. They will be the people best placed to tell you about their child and how to support them and they will hopefully feel pleased you want to meet them and make their child feel welcome in the class.
I agree with the others suggestions to read the echp from cover to cover - so many teachers simply don't do this and it's so important.
Thanks for the links and info. First, apologies: I should have said International Schools, not Indy schools. Well, both, but you get my drift! Therefore, no ECHP or similar. There is someone in a SENCO-esque role at the school but they're a little useless and also more of a counselling role as opposed to SEN. I'll have support from co-workers who are excellent teachers but none specifically trained in AEN.
I met with the parents and child and really had the final say on if he would be admitted to the school. However, it was made clear to me by the Primary Head that as the middle of 5 children, the family will make a big difference to the school's income. It's a great school and very, very well funded but we don't have a waiting list and are at about 85% capacity. I've contacted the previous teacher but they're in a different country. I'm waiting for a reply.
I do have observations and assessments from specific bodies (don't want to be too specific which ones) but they are so dry and clinical. x was observed. the child tended to y. It was recording behaviour as opposed to managing it, if you see what I mean.
The child will have a 1-2-1 TA. I've known her for a year and she's good but not used to the particular role. I think she'll be great but they're (both of them) my responsibility.
Thanks again for the useful advice. I'm not entirely sure what I was asking. Every child is different and there's no one size fits all approach but there are general approaches which can help many.
Finally zzzz. Thanks for the multiple, helpful posts.
"You sound a little uncommitted to inclusion for this child, based on his diagnosis? Why is that?"
I am absolutely committed to the child making the most of their time whilst in my charge. Academically predominantly (that's my job), but to help them get the most out of their year, they need other support. Basic example, they aren't going to learn anything from me if they don't understand the instructions of if they don't like an aspect of my behaviour.
I think inclusion has benefits for all children. Those who may be excluded for reasons like autism but also those who don't have the same struggles so can learn a lot from mixing with others. However, I don't think others' education should be sacrificed in the name of inclusion. Many years ago I had a very disruptive child in my class. He didn't have a diagnosis then and I don't know what it would have been anyway. I didn't have the strategies or support to help him cope in mainstream education and the other children in the class underperformed by (completely qualitative) 30%. I think I would do better now with decades of experience but I still think that the rest of the class would achieve significantly less due to his presence.
I didn't come here to start arguing though. I have AIBU for that!
I'm in my twilight years of teaching. I've been a head and SMT but am now a class teacher and nothing more. My politics or educational ideas can take a back seat. I get given 16 (yes, Indy school remember!) children and spend a year doing my best for them before passing the baton. FWIW, this child does seem to cope with mainstream education.
Thanks all. I'm sure I'll be back to the forum with specific questions.
I didn't take it as snippiness
I didn't give their age; perhaps it seemed immaterial. They're going into Year 5 although working towards Year 3 objectives in most areas.
"You may have stumbled on to the most exciting student of your career."
Maybe. I selfishly became a teacher because I find children fascinating and the 'quirky' ones absolutely pique my interest.
The book 'Ten things every child with autism wishes you knew' I have just read it on the recommendation of our autism assessment team (my son has just been diagnosed) and I thought it was brilliant. polter that link to the primary school cycle is so true - it would be funny if it wasn't so awful
You may well have seen this already but how about www.autism.org.uk/professionals/teachers.aspx , classroom section particularly.
For some light viewing, Educating the East End episode 8 talks about the school's autism provision and features a very engaging lad called Christopher. Just an example, of course the range is vast and he doesn't represent all autistic ppl etc but as an informal bit of background and insight you might find it interesting.
Just to underline the point that all children are different, my DS is good at following the herd but this can disguise the fact that he doesn't understand what he's doing. He also finds it difficult to know how to ask for help. If he needs a gluestick it might not occur to him to ask an adult or classmate for one, he just sort of stops. He might look vague, but secretly he is very anxious and panicky because he can't begin to fathom how to complete the task. Unfortunately despite him picking up sophisticated maths concepts easily, he just cannot seem to remember some social engagement basics like asking for help or saying hello when he answers the phone.
I'm downloading Educating the East End now.
I can't find an ebook version of that DannyGirl. I'll liook again later.
Id ask for a meeting with child's parents and ask them for a run down of specific issues and how they handle them.
I made a crib sheet for of things that set ds off and things he struggles with, what to do if he shows x,y behaviour. Parents can also tell you what works and what doesn't.
He has has a diagnosis might help to read that. Mc dc was specifically broken down in area into areas of social and communication etc.
I think it is wonderful that you are asking!
You've had lots of good advice and links already but the single best thing a teacher has done for my DS was to instil a sense of comradeship and respect for differences within the class. For example A is good at x but sometimes needs some help with y. We are all different and good at different things and we can all support each other. DS' class has taken that on with them through 2 subsequent teachers and no doubt for the rest of primary school. I didn't realise how powerful it was at the time. The group looks out for each other (most of the time!). If you can do similar for this child you will leave a great legacy. Good luck!
Another vote, speak to the parents. They know the child inside out and what works well for them and what does not. Liaise with them very regularly, perhaps have a diary for that child that you and they complete every day to say how things have been at school/home, any concerns the child or parents and staff have. Work as a team. If the anxiety of the child is well managed the academic work becomes a whole heap easier. Also be aware that some children wont show the anxiety at school as much but will open up at home so if what parents report does not fit with what you see day to day don't dismiss it.