Back To It and a Teacher’s Guest Post #ThisIsAutism

By | April 22, 2014

Back to school for D and she simply could not wait. I guess she was relieved to be getting back into routine, certainly she was up, dressed and ready for action at an early hour!

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, what with birthdays, new glasses and a cinema trip, she should have had plenty of “News”. I’d written down little prompts for her as she does tend to focus on the here and now. When we do our “best and worst of the week” chats on a Friday, D’s are always something that’s happened within the previous few hours even if something pretty mega has occurred two days before.

T and I have had some T-time as he returns tomorrow, it’s been a day of football facts and stats (from T) and I’m always impressed by how quickly his mind works – this can have disadvantages in that his mood will change extremely quickly.

D was very pleased to see us at the end of the day; a run-up, “Mumma!” and bear hug were all waiting for me. A good day.

This Is Autism

I wanted to include different topics on my nightly guest slot during April and tonight’s is a post written by D’s teacher.

I thought their post would be very interesting as they came from a mainstream environment to a SN school last September and was very pleased when they said they’d write something.

There were many changes that D and her classmates faced in September – different floor location of classroom (upstairs. without parental escorting), a mixture of pupils not necessarily previously put together and a teacher not only new to them, but new to the school. After an initial “teething” period, D has accepted all these changes and more and credit must go to her teacher and their continued initiative.

Having read through their post, I can understand where their empathic manner comes from and it makes for a fantastic read.

From ‘mainstream’ to ‘special’: A very special experience

Autism has been a part of my life for 25 years; ever since my little brother came into this world that, at times, he has blended into well and at others it has been like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

From a young age, we always knew he was unique. Branded a ‘naughty boy’ by his Reception teacher, I remember the times my parents would be called into school to talk to the Head teacher in response to another incident. I also remember their relief when after years of fighting his case he was diagnosed with autism and began attending a Special School.

In his early years, I often acted as translator for him as his speech development was poor and adults always seemed to struggle to understand him. For some reason I always knew what he was saying.

It is thanks to my wonderful brother that I find myself writing this piece as in September 2013 I finally realised a lifelong calling and became a teacher in a Special School. And boy, has my life changed!

Having worked as a teacher for five years in mainstream education, I was ready for a change. I had witnessed friends joining and subsequently leaving the profession, such are the pressures on schools these days, passed down from Local Authorities to Head teachers and piled upon the shoulders of the individuals at the bottom of the chain.

If you’re worried this is going to turn into another ‘woe is me’ article, don’t worry; it is positive from here on out!

It is now that I hope to outline why I truly believe that I have the best job in the world.

Firstly, one of the greatest changes for me was the size of my new class.

Having charge of ten children instead of 30 gave me an unrivalled opportunity to really know them. I get to understand what makes each individual child motivated, what learning style they prefer, how their home life impacts on their education and most importantly to know who they are as young people.

The next part of the job that has been a revelation to me is the flexibility I now feel I have to ‘teach’. If a particular part of a lesson is going in a certain direction or if a child raises a question, I have the time and I believe, duty, to follow that line of enquiry and therefore tailor my teaching further to the individual. It is often interesting to talk about ‘flexibility’ and ‘autism’ hand in hand as they are not a usual bedfellow, however, it was more about learning to be flexible with my own ideas of what a lesson ‘should’ be like and move to what it ‘could’ be like to help my children break the barriers to their learning.

Another point of real importance to me is the trust that we are given as educators. In a Special School environment that trust is huge and it is part of my job to earn it. Never before have I created such productive working relationships with parents who desperately want the most the for their children and it is fantastic to share in that common goal.

Finally, it comes down to the children. Each with their own complex personalities, likes and dislikes, senses of humour and voices. It has been a pleasure to learn with them and I hope to continue to learn throughout my career as they continue to teach me how to best teach them.

It is through this experience and journey into the unknown that for the first time in a long while I feel confident and proud to stand up and say: I am a teacher.

And this little girl is very happy to be in their class.

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2 Comments

Mamaasp on 22nd April 2014 at 8:52 pm.

Great post, teacher is so dedicated, fantastic to see x

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Jeannette on 23rd April 2014 at 9:15 pm.

Thank you, D is very lucky to have a teacher with an in depth understanding of autism 🙂

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