Tuesday, 11 June 2019

GCSE Brain dump

Today is the last day of exams for H!

I have fulfilled my duty to get her to college sixteen miles from our home by 9 am five times in a three week period. I consider that a massive achievement just for me never mind what H has achieved. And lets not forget that this incredible person fell out of the school process in 2015 having made virtually no measurable progress in the 3 years previous to that.

Diagnosed in with autism in 2011 and with other diagnoses to follow H is designated as having “complex needs”. Those complex needs could not be met by three mainstream schools in our local area and yet pushing for specialist provision never felt quite right either. Did we want to send H over 25 miles away at least, each day? Did we want to potentially limit her opportunities in the area that she excels?

We decided not, we slipped into home ed and found our home as it were. Home ed has been everything and more and I will never for one minute regret our decision to jump in to it. In fact it was more like throwing ourselves into it because I believe that to get the best out of home ed you need to be committed to exploring every opportunity and take chances with experiences that might be way outside your comfort zone.

But, there is always a but isn’t there………

We could not have got H to GCSE point without a team of people who have supported us and without HO [named this for privacy] college. The first blocks in the team are most definitely the members of the home ed community in the West Midlands who trod the path into the course specifically designed for Home ed students and who ironed out some of the potential issues before we even got there. Next came the SEND team at HO who not only listen but who seem to relish our outside the box thinking and instead of challenging us have come with us and risen to the occasion and done exactly what we have needed them to do. Then there is B, H’s speech and language therapist who alongside us co produced selective mutism training for the support staff and SENCO at college and A from the autism team who is rapidly becoming a fantastic advocate for H and who is enabling her voice to be heard [not just from me for a change]. J is the EP who is quietly in the background but a presence who gives us confidence to continue to push hard for what is right for H, to keep H at the centre of the process and to ensure that H gets every possible chance to reach for her goals. Then two great tutors who with the amazing support from H’s LSA [another A] have become confident in understanding H and who have gently and kindly stirred her brain into action and given back some of the confidence that H had in her abilities when she was a pre schooler and which had somehow got lost during her eight years in school. Finally and definitely the most important member of team H [except H of course] is C who is not only our friend but also the person who reminded H that actually learning doesn’t have to be torture and that she can move past the trauma that was inflicted on her by people in her past who will remain nameless because apart from this one sentence they do not belong in this blog and are well and truly gone out of our lives.

C for the first 6 months of working with H didn’t even expect H to touch a writing implement, such was the level of her fear around formal learning, maths in particular and yet within a few sessions he was telling us that H has a good maths brain and that it was the trauma which had led to her complete lack of faith in herself that was her greatest barrier.
It has taken all of these people plus of course me and H’s dad and a whole host of other people in our lives to get H to this point:

And so somehow we reached May of year 11, the start of exam season. Of course exams are stressful and the point of reasonable adjustments is to hopefully level the playing field just enough to allow people with SEND to stand a chance at accessing them alongside their peers.

But in my opinion GCSE’s have been made inaccessible to autistic people due to their unpredictable nature; for example, the second English Language paper is H’s stronger paper generally because there is usually an opportunity to debate or argue a point, something she excels at verbally at home and more recently has shown great flair at on paper in mock exams. However this year the examiners decided to throw in a curve ball and ask for students to argue a point about whether looks or intellect is more important. This for many teens was a peach of a question and twitter was full of comments about the Kardashians and Love Island and how they had used examples of these in their exam. For H and other autistic people who have absolutely no interest in the world of celebrities this was catastrophic. H can argue all day about the benefits or not of school uniform, of holidays in term time and in fact of school and the system in general but creating an argument around looks vs brains was so far outside her comfort zone that she fell apart.

By the time I collected her she had utterly convinced herself that she had failed, was physically unwell and went to bed for two days when we got home. There is nothing I can say to her to make her feel better about it, she so badly wants to get her magical “4” and while this doesn’t matter to us because we know she can retake it, it matters massively to her especially as in her most recent mock she got a high 6 and she just wants to be done with it.

For anyone who doesn’t understand why this would be so difficult for an autistic person I will tell you. Autism can impact on a persons ability to picture in your mind things which occur everyday for many people, things which matter to some people but don’t to you, means that anything that has never been experienced is a complete unknown to many autistic people and this extends to exact experiences not just similar ones. Thinking about how looks might impact on a person has never ever come up in our home or our life, we preach acceptance. We don’t spend much time on celebrities because to us they are not real people, they don’t live real lives and only appear on mainstream TV which we give little time to.

But not just English, maths too can throw curve balls such as Deon with the 60 biscuits, the dude who wanted to paint tanks which disappointingly turned out to be the container variety of tanks not the army type, or Julie who did a coin toss 4000 times! I mean who does that? An autistic person can easily get caught up in the likelihood of that actually happening and the maths question is lost to the nonsense. Yet we have to put our children through this.

My duty is done, I have ensured that H has attended college and arrived in time for all exams. I have supported, encouraged and trusted H to do the job to the best of her ability and I believe she has done this 100%.

If H doesn’t get her golden tickets [Maths and English GCSE] then it will be simply because the exam system is set up to fail autistic people and not due to H’s lack of ability but my guts tell me she will always blame herself and how is that fair?

Rachel Tenacious


Thursday, 30 May 2019

My child is smart, but why aren’t they making expected progress at school?

The answer may be a Working Memory difficulty!

But, how can my child have a memory problem? He can remember the names of over 50 dinosaurs!

To answer this it’s best if we first take a look at a simple model showing some of the different types of memory.

 Input is all the information we collect from our different senses. It first goes through our ‘Short Term Memory (STM). STM only lasts a matter of seconds and simply has to store the information without needing to process it in anyway e.g. remembering a phone number / recalling a sentence we have just heard.

Working Memory refers to the ability to hold, manipulate and process information in our brain over a short period of time; it can be known as our mental workspace or notepad (Sue Gathercole 2008). On average, an adult cannot hold more than six or seven units of information in working memory at a time; and this all depends on whether or not the material to be remembered is organised in a meaningful way or not. Difficulties with memory performance do not appear to be due to more general factors such as language difficulties or a low IQ, but are very closely linked to dyslexia; as it affects the pupil’s ability to retain and recall phonological information.

Working Memory is one of the most important indicators of academic success across the curriculum, specifically in terms of maths and reading. Children may have very good 'Long Term Memory' (LTM) for things they are interested in, places they have been etc, but still find it incredibly difficult to remember what they have learned or to follow instructions.

Working Memory is a significant difficulty and affects an estimated 1 in 10 children.

That’s on average of 3 children in every classroom! And typically affects more boys than girls.

However, it is surprising how often this problem is overlooked and not fully understood by teaching staff or healthcare professionals. The impact of a working memory deficit can have a huge impact across the child’s entire school and personal life.
Below is a list of possible signs that your child may have a Working Memory problem:
 In general:

-       Holding and manipulating instructions in the brain is difficult

-       They can usually be the last to carry out an instruction

-       They miss whole steps out of the instruction

-       Long discussions may result in inappropriate / disruptive behaviour

-       Can get easily distracted by people talking around them

In the classroom:

-       After getting off to a good start in the task:

o   the child may start ‘zoning out’

o   Not finish at the same standard

o   Work can be rushed and finished early

o   May abandon task half-way through

o   If the teacher interrupts in middle to do a ‘check-in’, may not remember where to start again

o   Teacher more likely to call their name to ‘hurry up’

-       There may be differences in the level of work depending on the amount of support / environment / time of day

-       May have to shout out the answer before they forget it

-       Struggle to learn new vocabulary

-       May struggle to do mental maths

-       Fail to check work for careless errors

-       May work better in a smaller group than whole-class learning

-       They may watch others around them a lot to work out what to do

-       Struggle to copy notes from the board

-       Often get in trouble with peers for ‘getting the rules of the game wrong’

-       Difficulties navigating around the school

-       Can read the words, but not able to tell you what they have read

o   But when the word is read to them, they understand it better

Classroom tasks that place heavy demands on Working Memory:

-       Following multi-step instructions

o   “after you have put your pencil case in your tray with your spelling book, go and line up at the door”

-       Remembering sequences

o   Multi-step math questions e.g. long multiplication

o   Timetables, days of the week, months of the year

o   Remembering all measurements of ingredients when you cannot see the recipe

-       Problem solving activities

-       Coursework

-       Collecting the equipment needed for an activity

-       Writing the date, title and learning objective before starting the work

Information can be lost from Working Memory when we are distracted by the environment around us, noise and movement or when its limited capacity is overloaded. When demands on the child’s Working Memory are too high, they may appear to be distractible and have limited concentration.

It is important to remember that children are often acutely aware of their memory difficulties – even from a young age, so it is vital to support them as much as possible and to reduce any anxiety they may have about forgetting things. If you are concerned about your child's memory difficulties please contact a Speech and Language Therapist or Psychologist. 

Strategies on how to support Working Memory are coming up in the next blog! So stay tuned!

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

It must be the parent: why unconscious incompetence is dangerous!

I feel so angry my head could explode! I'm supposed to be off today but I've written a report. A report on a boy who social workers, CAHMS and school feel is 'fine' but I know is not.

I had a call from the social worker who told me that they suspect the parent of making up their child's issues and that he's 'fine in school'. In fact even the head teacher says he's quite 'normal'. Yet the parent talked about her 7 year old wanting to die, having awful melt-downs, not understanding the world etc The boy himself confided in me that he doesn't want to be here in the world and it's just too scary. He has tried to run in front of a car, jump out of  an upstairs window and hold his head under the bath water...he's 7 for Gods sake!!!

The social worker feels that as I'm 'private' the parent has shopped around to find someone who will agree with her and as I'm 'private' I would, because I will have been paid.

I'm not angry that she has, in effect, called me unprofessional, I'm angry because the rest of the people involved don't know what they don't know. George and Miriam, two brilliant parents I know, discuss this as 'unconscious incompetence' which sums it nicely.

The boy has significant language issues which he doesn't want people to know about, he wants to please, to do his best and not be seen as different but the cost of keeping this up, is enormous; so he has to let it out when he's at home, where he can be himself. The toll on his mental health is rising.

This is a phenomenon known as masking which many parents of children with ASD know all to well. However, its not just confined to the autistic population, children with any type of issue may do it. This particular boy needs assessing for ASD but ones with developmental language disorder can also display this.

Please, please let's just listen; listen to the parents who are at their wits end, listen to the child who is struggling, listen to your instinct!

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Practical PDA training

Every week see children who have demand avoidance, some will be very anxious so need to control, others will have PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance). We don't need to get into the debate of whether this exists or not but we do need to understand why children are demand-avoidant, so we can better help them.

We are running an informative and practical training day on Saturday June 15th at Cannock Fire Station 9.30-3.30 where I will go through what PDA is and is not, in the morning, and Rachel Tenacious will deliver a workshop on low-arousal approaches in the afternoon. These approaches work with all anxious children.

This is great CPD for any professional (we are registered UK training providers so you will receive a credible certificate for your CPD file):

Teachers: you will receive information to help you understand children in your school, what it means to have PDA and learn strategies which work for those children

Speech and language Therapists/Educational Psychologists: you will be able to understand sufficiently to be able to assess new clients and then understand how you need to tailor therapy in order for it to work.

Parents: When we understand our children, we can better help them, you will also learn strategies to help at home.

£90 including lunch.

So book today, as spaces are limited to allow for better participation.


Libby Hill is a multi-award winning speech and language therapist who appeared in Channel 4s Born Naughty. She sees children with PDA from all over the UK and occasionally abroad. She is part of the PDA professional's group and the PDA Research group. She supports PDA action and the PDA Society. She is co-writing a book about Parental Perspectives of PDA

Rachel  Tenacious is a late diagnosed autistic parent with three children aged between 30 and 16. H is her youngest child who was diagnosed with autism at age 9 and selective mutism at 15. She removed H from the education system in 2015 after she had what we now know as an autistic burn-out. The school system didn’t suit H at all but home ed was  amazing. She shares her experience at support groups.  

Friday, 1 February 2019

Doesn't listen, is rude, homophobic, racist and fights with other children!; why he's my kind of child

Rant alert!!!!

I find myself getting increasingly angry when I hear about the lack of understanding of the impact of speech language and communication difficulties.

Yesterday, I met a young man aged 11 years: He was charming, polite, eager to please the adult .


  • has significant auditory processing difficulties, which means he finds listening and attending in the classroom situation very difficult  (previously identified by Ed Psychologist)
  • has a very poor auditory memory and poor verbal understanding which means following classroom instructions is extremely difficult for him (previously identified by NHS SLT)
  • has expressive language difficulties, of which he is very aware but he does not want people to know, so he masks this in a variety of ways, one of which is  by using words and phrases but he has heard other 'cool' children using. Occasionally, this is racist or homophobic but he is unaware of this as he has heard others using this language freely. As he does not know it is rude or wrong, he will use it in front of school staff. (vocabulary issue previously identified by NHS SLT)
  • has very, very literal understanding, so he will do a exactly as they say e.g.  'work quietly'  will mean he still talks (albeit quietly), 'stand here' means he finds the exact spot (identified previously by NHS SLT)
  • he cannot initiate communication as he has pragmatic difficulties and  asking for help is one of the hardest things to initiate. He may ask a person next to him what he supposed to do but he's unlikely to ask the teacher...... then he gets into trouble for not doing what is supposed to do or talking
  • he has impaired executive function so is impulsive, has difficulty initiating tasks and organising himself.  
  • he is desperate to have friends and to be liked, so will do things to impress people.Sometimes this is to be the class clown, sometimes looking very silly
  • he is not good at relationships with other children, he does not read their intentions so is very vulnerable to children whose intentions are not good. 
  • he cannot negotiate so is likely to fallout with children and need support for interactions

He also has increasing anxiety, poor confidence and  low self-esteem (not surprising!).

This young man with all these barriers to his learning and making friends has an education and healthcare plan so should be receiving lots of help.......... is he?

NO: he just been excluded for low level disruptive behaviour e.g. not listening, being rude, homophobic, racist and fighting with other children!

This is a prime example of a child with speech language and communication difficulties being totally, totally missed understood. If he had a label e.g. autism or ADHD or looked different e.g. down syndrome, cerebral palsy, people would make allowances and  would want to do their best but because he looks 'normal' and has no label, he is being totally totally let down by the system .

We desperately need the 'unique child' label to be more than just that; a label. How does the term, that is flippantly passed around in meetings, look? This child needed his strengths and his weaknesses identifying and accommodations made. His behaviour is communication!

Please let's look behind the behaviour, why is a child behaving badly? Those who need the most help ask for it in the least helpful ways! I've just been judging the communication Trust Shine a light awards and there's some great SLCN work going on in the justice system but let's not let it get that far, lets get it right early on before the damage is done. 

School staff need more training and more support! We need more speech and language therapy so school and SLT can work together for children, like the olden days when I worked in Dudley circa 1988; we have gone backward not forwards!

I did warn you it was a rant!

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Moving forward with CoProduction, its time to #flipthenarrative. January 2019

Guest blog by Rachel Tenacious

I am writing this on the back of attending #CoPro19 this week, probably the best conference I have ever been to. The speakers were all amazing and singing from the same song sheet as me.

When you have been "That Parent", a "Persistent Complainer" and a "Vociferous Parent" for as long as I have it can start to feel like you are never going to get your voice heard, when you seem to be so opposed to the system and all that it stands for, it can start to feel that your voice is never going to be loud enough!

But guess what....... There are a whole lot more voices, like mine, they are getting louder and there are professionals on board too. I wanted to bottle some of them and bring them home.

After three and a half years of very successful home ed where we have been supported by a couple of professionals and have been on a learning journey with them, the time came for H to tentatively dip a toe back into "the system"

We were utterly determined not to put H back into a setting where they measure progress by attendance and test scores but ignore clear signs that the child/young person is falling apart. The course for home educated students seemed like a good starting point because it is a very short number of hours, it doesn’t start until 1.20pm and the staff have worked with young people like H who have been through traumatic times at school and those who had been outside the box for a long time [for ever in some cases].

The first true coproduction training I did was selective mutism training with Libby Hill when some of the professionals in the room said they had never been on a training course with parents. This was an eye opener for everyone in the room and we all came away feeling that this is most definitely the way forward.

I joined the Autism Working Group and Selective Mutism working groups in Walsall because I am passionate about sharing the message about coproduction, flipping the narrative and making sure that the families/child’s/young person’s voice stays at the centre of everything.

Flipping the narrative means we start to see the child as the centre of everything and use their ambitions and wishes as a starting point for developing their support.

We do not set targets such as;

"H will speak to 3 people by Wednesday"

In fact we have removed the need for H to speak at all pretty much. She has people around her who know what needs to be done and they don’t wait to be asked to do it they just do it. This frees H up to focus on just being herself and getting through her day. This removes a huge amount of stress from H and as a result of that she is quite often able to speak when she wants to.

The adults around H are not there to encourage, urge, cajole her into doing stuff, they are there to provide a cushion and a protective barrier to help her feel safe.

When the adults around H provide her with that protection she is safe to start to show us what she is capable of.

Recently H attended a meeting with us at college, after half an hour she was due to go to her support group. I reminded her of the time and her LSA offered to go with her but she said she didn’t need her to and that she would come back if she needed to for any reason because she knew where we were. One of the professionals in the room was utterly mind blown at her level of confidence to navigate a fairly busy area of the college independently.

I believe H has been empowered to do this because she knows that the support is there for her all the time and it doesn’t disappear as soon as she looks like she is "coping".

I took the opportunity to reinforce to everyone around the table that this has happened without setting one single target for H.

Trust is a very powerful thing. Our children and young people need to be able to trust that their supporting adults are just that and not just there to push them out of their comfort zone.

As I am gaining more confidence in my  role as " An expert team member" I have started to lead meetings, to invite who we need and almost railroad professionals round to our way of thinking.

Many have already worked in a team around the child type situation so suddenly finding themselves back in this situation is not too scary for them.

This is called Co-production and the aim is to put us as parents, children and young people on a level playing field with the professionals.  We know our children better than any of them, we spend every day finding out what helps and what doesn’t.

Now is the time to flip the narrative and start working from a point of what the child or young person can do and stop focussing on what they can’t. When we trust them and stand beside them they move forward at a pace that is right for them.

If you are interested in learning more follow these people on twitter for starters and get involved:

@gdmorewood   @elly_chapple, @StarlightMcKenzie ,  @AspieDeLaZouch,  @Andylowarousal,


By Rachel Tenacious


A little bit about me, I am a late diagnosed autistic parent with three children aged between 30 and 16. H is my youngest child she was diagnosed with autism at age 9 and selective mutism at 15.
We removed H from the education system in 2015 after she had what we now know as an autistic burn-out.
The school system didn’t suit H at all but home ed has been amazing.
Since my diagnosis I have begun to share some of our experiences at support groups and am hoping to expand this out to schools, colleges and anywhere people want to hear me really.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

What Teachers Need to Know About Teaching Children on the Autism Spectrum

When teachers view the behaviour of children on the autism spectrum through typical lenses, their view is often distorted. To teach children with autism you need to know autism inside and out to have the clarity that allows you to teach children the way they learn, to interpret what the child is communicating and to respond appropriately. Here are some helpful hints and tips to help school life be a more comfortable experience for the teachers, the child and the class.

1. The most important work thing is to build trust. Without that, they may be too anxious to do what is asked, Make every effort to win them over e.g. take notice of what they like or is important to them. Dinosaurs, space, Minecraft, learn about them so you have something to talk to them about and often use it to your advantage.

2. Many teachers have told me, they cannot give a child support because it would be unfair to the other children in the class. Explain to the class about autism and the extra help an autistic child needs to allow their other children to help support. This will teach the other children about autism, compassion and patience.

3. Never label a child’s behaviour “naughty,” “difficult,” “oppositional” or “rude.” You may not know the cause of the behaviour but if you understand autism and the child you can often work it out. If not observe, do an ABC chart this will provide you with vital information. There is always a reason behind the behaviour you just need to be patient and work it out.

4. Acknowledge the parents who have been raising their autistic child as knowing their child better than you do.

5. Find opportunities to raise the child’s stature in the classroom and the school. Is he great at magic? Let’s do a magic show! Is he an expert on dinosaurs? Let’s create an incredible dinosaur station and he can be the curator! He’s a great reader? Let him read stories out loud for the class

 6. The autism-related difficulties are not parenting issues. Autism is a pervasive development disorder, and that means autistic students may have some differences in every area of functioning across the curriculum. Executive functioning is often a weakness so try find other ways to help the child. E.G. visual representations.

7.Children with autism need patience and understanding. Give them that.

8. Teach children with autism the way they learn often this is visually.

9. If the child is having a difficult time, don’t insinuate or suggest there are problems in the home. Parents need my understanding and support, they have their child 24/7 and are often very stressed.

10.Celebrate the successes and the attempts and teach to the gaps in understanding and skill without directly pointing out mistakes. Demonstrate, model and practice until they get it.

11. I know that a lifetime of being corrected makes a child afraid to take a risk. Therefore, create safe and supportive environments where risk-taking is applauded. Let the children know that as an adult you get nervous taking chances, too!

12. If an autistic child tells you they are being bullied, believe them and act on their information. Sometimes they may feel they are being bullied when it is not bullying, explain it to the child with autism help them understand.

13. Many children with autism are tired — of course they are! A number of them have sleep disorders. They can’t settle down until late into the night. The diurnal rhythms of these children can be off by three to four hours, so they may be awake until well past midnight. If they are awake so late, it is no wonder they can be very groggy in the morning. Mornings can be tough on them, so watch what see what they are like first thing in the day. In the a.m., prepare lesson plans with preferred and alerting activities for those who need the extra time to be fully awake.

14.They often have slow processing speed. So, know that rushing a child who takes 20 seconds to process what you have said will literally slow him down and potentially make him anxious.

15. Autistic children may need help with organising, prioritising, managing their emotions, being flexible in their thinking, starting their work, coming up with ideas, remembering, and managing their time. These are brain-based differences. This is executive dysfunction. If you want a child to learn these things, you have to teach, not chastise and dictate what they need to do, but demonstrate the value of these skills so they master them.

16. I know stimming helps some of these children focus, regulate and/or manage anxiety. Never, shame or humiliate them by calling attention to their stim and insist they stop because they are bothering their classmates. Look for other ways they can do their stimming that is not disruptive. However, if this has been discussed with the class, I have found the children to be understanding and helpful towards the child.

17. If a child believes in themselves, they can do anything. Create opportunities for them to see their potential, and for peers to see it, too.

18. Consider the reality of anxiety. All roads can lead there: bullying, sensory overload, social alienation, slow processing speed, volumes of homework that seem impossible to keep up with. keep that in mind when creating lessons and homework for the children. Often homework is a bone of contention as they may consider school work to be done in school and home is different. As many do compartmentalise consider allowing them to do their homework at school. Maybe in a lunchtime homework club.

19. Don’t insist the need to look at you in order to pay attention to the lesson. In fact, looking away and doodling may be how they can pay attention. Often, they can look at you or they can listen to you, but not both. honour their sensory needs.

20. It’s hard for children to learn from teachers they do not like. If they like their teacher, they’ll have a good year. If they don’t, they won’t. How you treat the child determines if they like you or not.

21. Many children with autism have empathy — lots of it. Your cat died? He told you a joke to make you laugh because you look sad — not because he is cold and heartless. He may not know how to respond to what he sees or feels. That’s why it’s really important to create social/emotional development goals that can teach autistic children what to do in these situations. Don’t chastise or humiliate them for responding in ways that others feel are inappropriate. If there’s a clear gap in the child’s understanding, it means now we know what we need to teach it to them.

22. Being verbal doesn’t mean ASC children know how to communicate. Autism is a communication disorder, so try to find out what that means to each of your autistic students. Just because they are precociously verbal does not mean they can find the words to say what they need, express what they are feeling or understand all I am asking.

23. Many autistic children must be taught that 93 percent of communication that is nonverbal: facial expressions, tone of voice, body language, context. Work in activities that will help teach them that. These skills are so important in social success. E.g. My dog died the child with autism may laugh and this would cause upset. They are not laughing because they find it funny, they may not know how they should react appropriately. They may even find one of the words funny without understanding the context

24. check in for comprehension, not by asking, “Do you know what to do?” But by saying, “Tell me how you’re going to answer that question, Bobby.” And if Bobby is on the wrong track, don’t tell him he’s wrong, praise him for his effort and keep discussing until he understands.

25. Many people expect nothing of nonverbal autistic children (though many are bright) and too much of our highly verbal autistic children. Try working to understand the strengths and needs of them. I personally have worked with nonverbal children who are highly intelligent and understand exactly what you are saying to them.

26 let them know everyone makes mistakes. I will make mistakes. When I do, I will apologise to the individual children affected.

27. “No” can be a trigger for many children on the spectrum. Try and find a way to make them feel understood, and work hard to find a way to say, “Yes.” “Yes, Johnny. You want to play with the Lego. I will let you do that. First, let’s finish your math, then you’ll play Lego.” Finding another way to say no’ is not ‘giving in’ to bad behaviour. It is being mindful that this child feels less anxious when he or she has some semblance of control over the day, or when engaged in activities they feel comfortable and competent in doing. Use first/then visuals and schedules to help the child see when he can do his favourite things.

28. Be aware the ASC child who is a model student may have frightening meltdowns and express extreme anxiety at home related to the school experience. When social, sensory and academic demands become too much to cope with, the child will let it all out where it is safe to do so: with his family in his house. Give the child 15 minutes at the end of the day with something that relaxes them and helps them cope.

29. Behaviour issues are often a result of lack of training, lack of understanding, and lack of communication issues. Don’t tell parents their child was rocking in his seat, sitting at his desk not doing any work, or looking out the window while I was teaching the class. He has autism. He’ll rock to calm himself. He may not know how to start the work because he forgets the steps or didn’t understand the lesson, and he was looking out the window so he could pay attention to the lesson

30. Don’t wait for things to fall apart before you act being proactive is better than reactive for you, the child and the rest of the class.

31. Many autistic children do not like to be wrong, to be corrected, to be told they missed something, forgot something, or have to edit their work. Break work into small achievable chunks and check in for comprehension every step of the way. Teach the value of making mistakes and let them see you tolerate making a mistake.


Collated by Karen Horner
Autism Consultant