This will be a short post. I think I am probably (slightly) more informed about autism than average because I work as a teacher in a secondary school. You would think, then, that I would have a good understanding of the condition and good experience of working with autistic children. In fact, I’m embarrassed to admit that I don’t know much. I’ve probably sat through training sessions, watched powerpoints and videos and had it all explained to me. I’ve certainly taught children who were on the spectrum. And yet I’ve managed to remain fairly ignorant. This isn’t entirely down to ignorance or laziness; usually a learning support teacher will work alongside the child and act as the mediator between my lesson and the child’s ability to learn and progress. I understand that such children may struggle with interpreting information, making sense of the lesson (and the world) and be rather literal in their thinking. They are often withdrawn and anxious and frequently very bright. The truth is that much of the learners’ needs are met by their support assistant. I suppose also that I’m talking about high functioning autism. Nonetheless, I have had to admit to knowing less than I perhaps should.
Certainly I have never given much thought to autism outside the classroom. I’ve thought (a little) about how they learn in my lesson, but not about what their lives are like, what their family lives are like and so forth.
So I’m at a fairly basic starting point. Having said that, I’m way ahead of some people in terms of attitude, acceptance and understanding. It will be very difficult, for instance, to help B’s grandparents understand and accept the situation. But that’s another entry.