Supporting children with Autism in the classroom
There can be a number of barriers to inclusion that face individuals with Autism in our community everyday, including children in the classroom. However, with the right support in place as well as a better understanding from all of us, these barriers can be overcome.
For year 6 student Jade who has Autism, being unable to tell people what she needs or wants can be a cause of frustration. Having a supportive network around her and a great communications device has made the world of difference for her, particularly at school.
According to her Speech Pathologist, Bianca Carbone, Jade uses the device to get her messages across and it has been a game changer for her, ultimately giving her the ability to participate in class and share her news.
“Jade has a lot to say and has a lot of great ideas in her head as well so having the device really gives her that sense of freedom to be able to communicate with others,” Ms Carbone said.
“For Jade, her device has really helped with her sense of belonging and self, especially in the school environment. She has been able to get up in front of her peers and share her news, let them know all about her and who she is – it makes her feel good.”
Her teacher Neil Rose said that news time is now very important for Jade and both the technology and the teamwork that has gone into ensuring her needs are supported at school have been essential.
“The collaboration between the school, Jade’s parents and the Autism Association of WA is very important, creating the routine and structure that she really needs,” Mr Rose said.
“She realises she can express herself now – whereas before she wasn’t able to do that.
“What people need to understand is that children with Autism are still children, the same as everyone else – the only difference is that their brains are wired a little bit differently.
“Inclusion in the community is vital especially for our students.”
Jade’s success in the classroom shows the difference that collaboration, understanding and support can make.
For all individuals with Autism in our community, this understanding is critical to enabling them to live their best lives possible.
For this to be possible, it is important to understand that every person experiences Autism differently and has different support needs – no two people with Autism have the same experiences in the way they communicate and interact socially or how they might feel about and respond to their surroundings.
Autism is also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), where ‘spectrum’ refers to the wide range of characteristics, skills and abilities unique to each individual with Autism.
The Autism Association of WA Director of Therapy and Clinical Services, Tasha Alach, said that the organisation is working hard to help the community understand Autism better but that it is up to everyone to be open to learning.
“At the Autism Association of WA, we are committed to helping people with Autism live their best life possible and we believe a huge part of this is greater acceptance and understanding in our community,” Ms Alach said.
“We are asking the WA community to join us today in igniting change for people with Autism – you can do this simply by taking a few minutes to learn and understand more about Autism.
“Through greater understanding and by celebrating every individual’s unique strengths, we can all make sure that everyone can live their best life possible and create a more inclusive community.”
The Association has produced a series of short videos which celebrate the strengths of different individuals with Autism, including Emma, and also have a range of information and resources available.