Saturday, 16 April 2011

Autism Awareness Month

I have worked with approximately 30 children who have an Autistic
Spectrum Disorder. Most of these children had additional learning
difficulties, it was a Special School.
I left 3 years ago to look after my young sons, but I think about the
pupils a lot. I spent six years with the same group of children. Six
boys, two girls. Most of my colleagues said they couldn't handle
working in the Autistic unit. "They're hard work" "They can be
violent" "They don't listen"...
I'd imagine you think over the period of ten years I received some
specialised training in Autism? No, none at all. I requested training
every year, there was never enough money for it.
The children I worked with had a huge impact on my life. I was
injured, assaulted, my clothes got ripped. I cried a lot with
frustration (at people's inability to accept Autism).
I laughed every day, and continue to laugh at some of the situations I
found myself in, and some of the innocent comments made by the pupils
which were hilarious.

 A trip to the shop to buy bread and milk would
always end in drama. One pupil felt it necessary to strike up
conversations with strangers using his unique descriptions of their
appearance. "So, old lady-you have the moustache?" My fondness for the
group meant I rarely thought about Autism, they were a group of
individuals, defined by their personalities, not their 'disorder'.
Once, the whole school were invited to the Wales Millenium Centre to
watch 'Sleeping Beauty on Ice'. I overheard a member of senior
management say "I don't think the Autistic Unit should go". I was
determined to go, really fed up of the discrimination.
We went, and hoped for the best. The best happened. All the pupils
from the Autistic Unit sat still, entranced for the entire show. The
rest of the pupils, bored and impatient, caused quite a scene, crying,
shouting and running around.
Every single negative thing that happened during my time at the school
was due to lack of tolerance.
If you know nothing about Autism, just learn this one thing. Autism is
nothing to be afraid of. Intolerance is the only problem. If you had
Autism, I reckon the only thing you'd ask for is acceptance. The world
is difficult to understand for many, please do NOT assume your
understanding of it is right.
One pupil said "I don't like assembly, I'm not going". I didn't like
assembly either, I went. What is it that made us SO different eh?


  1. Great post, I worked with Autistic children during my uni holidays as a playscheme placement - i had training but to be honest the training was nothing compare to learning on the job! I loved every minute of working with these children, im not saying it wasnt challenging on a few occasions but hye took the rough with the smooth.

    P.s laughed hard at the crafty idea - now should really go to the pound shop and buy up all thair cotton buds - this would def take the edge off the ugly vases by filling with a huge ball of cotton buds - love it! lol - thanks for giving me a real chuckle today :o)

  2. I didn't like going to assembly either - I went, but what made it different was I was the Head! I always tried to keep it short but interesting, mindful of the children who found it so hard to concentrate for very long. My school had its share of children with Autism and Aspergers, though some never had the diagnosis we teachers craved on their behalf. Funding was a huge issue and we were rarely allowed to mention what became known as 'The A Word' for fear that the local authority would have to cough up extra funds. I well remember a tribunal where the school was supporting the family to get a place in a specialist school. The LA saw us as traitors as of course as their employees we should have been toeing the party line. We stuck to our guns; we were the ones who managed this little lad everyday and we knew. Sadly we didn't win the case. He went on to the local secondary where he was often excluded.

  3. Thank you for your honest comments Little Nell. Things are only set to get worse for families and sufferers where Autism is concerned. Even in special schools things have to reach crisis point before the support is in place. No less than four pupils in six years ended up in full-time residential care due to insufficient support leading to family breakdown.
    It's a terrible thing to say, but I can't help feeling that children with an ASD are just seen as a nuisance sometimes.

  4. What a wonderful blog post, you obviously have a lot of experience and understanding Which is great to share with people who don't. My dad and brother both have aspergers so it's great to know there people like you who are sensitive to autism x x


Sorry I am having to filter comments at the moment