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Showing posts from 2016

One size doesn't fit all

Dearest readers,
I’ve had this topic on my list of about a month now (sorry Laura!) but now I feel is the time it would flow into this topic best after my reflections on the Inclusion and Diversity Study week in Siegen. When I first got asked this topic my first reaction is: I’m not qualified to write about this! But then who really is qualified (or thinks that they are?) and given that each one of us comes along with different life experiences and those in themselves can give you material upon which to reflect upon and help construct a response. I also feel I should start with the normal disclaimer of everyone being unique and, in this case most certainly, having different aspirations, intelligence and learning styles. There is no one size fits all, certainly not in education.

So the question I have been posed at hand: supporting a child with autism in a one-to-one educational setting - for parents/carers and tutors.

There is no hard and fast one thing that will work for each auti…

Our first workshop

Dearest readers,

Today was the first (of many to come it seems) 'Attentiveness to Autism' workshop that I run co jointly with my minister, Pru. I honestly have to say last night I had no idea how it would go given that although I had prepared for it, I hadn't had time to get stressed or worried or anxious about it (and probably for the best!) We had sorted everything like the projector and the room set up the night before at the venue, which was away from our home church and finalised everything pretty much.

I have to admit, neither of us thought it would go as well as it did today. We had planned material and a rough order, but as we were planning a workshop in a tutorial style we didn't have planned to stand at the front and lecture - that's not really my style anyway, I'm far too laid back; plus I strongly felt I didn't want us to stand up in a position of authority as none of us is truly an expert on autism (although I did enjoy using a pointer and a cl…

Better late than never

Dear readers,

After a short sejour consisting of deadlines, a conference and nearly finishing a workshop to present (on Saturday!), another post is ready to go live. Last week I was away on a conference about Inclusion and Diversity as part of International Study Week in Siegen. I was really looking forward to going, not only because it would be like a mini holiday after drowning in systematic review proposals, dissertation proposals and ethics checklists but also because anyone who knows me will know how much I love Germany and jump at any chance to go back again and be a quasi-German. The conference was really interesting and it was great to hear so many different opinions, stances and progress from across the world. It was definitely food for thought.

There was one thing that has stuck with me ever since: during the panel session on the final day in the auditorium, the following question arose out of the discussion: Are some people more important than others (perhaps inherently), a…

Brave: coughing it up

Dearest readers, 

After having a busy week with the monthly classes I have for my masters (the department I'm run their classes in a more compact manner so that students who work can organise planned leave etc) I thought I would share some good news. In November I am attending, along with three other students and a member of staff from the department, International Study Week at Uni Siegen in Germany. (Siegen is sort of near Cologne for those who are a bit lost with German geography, the other side of Germany to Berlin). I've never been to Siegen but have been to many other places in Nordrhein-Westfalen and am excited to return to Germany after 18 months away. Anyway I digress, the International Study Week is regarding inclusion and barriers regarding disability, active support and challenging behaviour. I am really looking forward to hearing about this on an international level and maybe even contribute (if I'm brave enough) as female adult with a diagnosis of Asperger'…

The time of your life - the ERASMUS experience

I feel like I need to write a huge disclaimer before I get started. I am a huge supporter of the ERASMUS scheme; it allows for many great opportunities and personal development, you can travel, study and try things you have never tried before. You get to see education in a different culture and live a different lifestyle. However some people do not have the time of their lives, sometimes out of their control and others are glad they did it but would never repeat the experience. I also feel it is important to say that all parties involved with my exchange, including myself, were new to sending a student with a hidden disability which impacts on all areas of life, namely autism. I was I believe one of the first students that had ever taken part at my university on the ERASMUS programme (the first actually), mainly because it was mandatory on my programme. Because no one had done this before, no one had any inkling of the potential issues that could occur or that would occur. I have to b…

Clarity is in the eye of the beholder

This topic is quite current given the new academic year bringing multiple changes, new beginnings and new challenges. I have just commenced on a Masters degree not only in a completely different discipline (a move from humanities to social sciences) but also with multiple modules that are classed as ‘distance learning’. The concept of distance learning is causing me a small headache (understatement) as what is expected from the online learning environment is a complete unknown to me. I guess this brings me nicely onto the core of the topic: clarity. Clarity is important in our day to day lives; it helps us know the certainty of what is being communicated through words or pictures and understanding this. Other definitions include the word sharpness (referring to vision and audio), intelligible and coherent. All of these demonstrate an understanding of the information presented, whether that be in an auditory or visual manner.

I think a lot of us take our clear understanding of things t…

The Invisibility Cloak

Chers lecteurs,

I have been posed two interesting questions which are actually really important. They have been asked by my cousin, a social worker. How can a diagnosis help or hinder? How could this help a foster carer provide the best care for a child in their home? I believe this goes hand in hand with the concept of ‘hidden disability’. A hidden disability is a disability or condition that is not visually obvious upon first glance. This would also mean it’s not immediately obvious the challenges that the individual may encounter. The idea of a hidden disability is not only unique to autism, however it is very profound.

The main issue is the issue of prejudgement; that is assuming that someone is something that they are not and the expectations that going along with this. This is dangerous within the scope of any disability or condition, much more so with one you cannot see and are unable to see the impact of challenges or struggles as well as unlikely talents. Ignoring the individ…

Jargon buster

After a request for an 'Idiot's Guide to Autism' for beginners, I thought I would begin with some key terms and buzzwords that are by some used within the autistic community, professionals and within research circles. Listed below are a few basic definitions I have compiled myself. I hope these short definitions can help begin to build bridges in communication between different groups with varying levels of knowledge and experience. These words are only a mere selection and is not an exhaustive list. I know this readership will have varying experience of working with and supporting individuals with autism and the autistic community. This is very much a 'beginner's' post, I will be building on this in the future. I have tried to keep the language as accessible as possible and I hope that you can gain insight from this short 'dictionary' style post. I will be posting a longer post early October.
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Autism - a lifelong developmental disability1, as describ…

Danger: Storm ahead

One of my friends is a youth worker and mentor in a local special provision school and she asked me to discuss the topic of meltdowns and shutdowns. They are almost buzzwords within autism and the autistic community. What are these phenomena? Both of them describe an occurance where the individual is overloaded with information and stimuli with differing reactions to the overload. A meltdown is a loss of behavioural control to an overwhelming situation1, as described by NAS. I think this is one of the briefer descriptions of this phenomena I have found, hence why I reference NAS as this is clear and to the point. Ways in which meltdowns can manifest themselves may include: anger or violence exhibited in a verbal or physical manner, crying, shaking and ‘refusal’ to comply. This list is not exhaustive I add, these are merely from experiences I have had. These are different to tantrums, which are goal based. A shutdown is pretty much what it is describing: shutting down. This is a retrac…

Through my eyes Part I

It’s taken me a while to write this piece as I feel I need to get the exact words to describe quite abstract ideas. When I used to write essays I pretty much constantly had a thesaurus open as my vocabulary when trying to explain non concrete things is pants and repetitive. I’m sure I’m not alone in this…
I guess I have been asked: how does it feel to be autistic?
In all honesty I don’t know the answer to that question. I feel like me if I’m quite honest. I know no different. It’s a bit of a peculiar question as it’s a bit like asking someone a question of ‘how it feels to be something’ when they have only experience of that one thing you are asking about. It’s a shame that we cannot insert something similar to an SD card to film how others perceive the world. I think that would be so fascinating from a being nosey point of view. The filming however would miss out on the most crucial part of being human: feelings, moods and how our bodies experience them. It also depends with that ques…

Transitions

Liebe Leserinnen, lieber Leser, As mentioned in the previous post, here is the talk I prepared to share with new university students as part of autism orientation week at my local university. I have slightly edited it for this blog post, breaking down some terms and explaining maybe why I have suggested certain things. I will place these additions in italic. This is targeted at young adults first moving away from home for the first time. Some may have never been away from their parents and home environment before while others may have. They will all have a diagnosis of autism/Asperger's, social anxiety or a suspected diagnosis or one or both. It may be also beneficial to bear in mind that this is more directed at students with Asperger's or who are quite 'high functioning' in terms of autism. Change and transitions are hard for everybody, but the difficulty is compounded the these individuals mentioned above. Worries regarding change in environment (noise in the block a…