Behaviour Matters

Posts tagged ‘school’

Autistic Christmas part 1 – Primary School

As you will know if you have a child on the Autistic Spectrum, change and disruption to routines can be very difficult. If your child attends a mainstream school you may also be aware of the changes to daily activities and structure during the run up to Christmas. This can result in a change to your child’s behaviour while at school or at home. There are a few tips that can help though

1. Nativity play. – Ensure you have as much detail as possible of the changes to the routines in regard of school play rehearsals and performances. Also ask about costumes especially if your child is hypersensitive to fabrics. Armed with this information you will be better placed to support your child through the changes.
2. Making cards and gifts. – During the run up to Christmas it may be expected that all children make a card and possibly a calendar or other gift for parents, but that they will be kept in the school until the last day of term. Sorry if this has come as a surprise to many of you. If your child is impulsive and needs to have instant gratification then this again can cause problems for the school. Discuss this with the class teacher and ensure your child is able to bring home his creations as soon as possible.
3. Christmas lunch. – This one isn’t usually too much of a problem as many children are given the option to opt out of having a school Christmas lunch, although there are associated difficulties. If your child usually has a hot dinner provided by the school then the day of the Christmas dinner may make the dinner hall noisier than usual, or if your child usually has a packed lunch in a different hall with other children who are not there due to having a hot dinner that day. Again discuss with the teacher so that you can prepare your child in advance.
4. Christmas party. – Most children find this day exhausting and full of fun. They see little structure (although it is there) and their behaviours can be over ruled by impulse. Add to this mix a little spice of Autism and there can be all sorts of wonderful results. On party day the uniform (if your child usually wears one) may not be required. This in its self can be difficult for some children with rigidity of thought. Or they may be required to attend in uniform and change into party clothes later. Then there is the party, there may be food, there will be noise, there may be games, there will be noise, they may seem to be little structure and there will be noise. So on this day it may be important that your child knows that there will be a safe/quiet place to go to, and that his TA will always be available during the party.
5. Last day. – Last day of term is unlike any other day at main stream school. Teachers clearing the decorations away, few if any structured session times, could be non uniform day, TA’s busy filing work and preparing for the next term, wall displays are being removed, art work is being organised to be sent home and the children may have restricted access to some areas they are used to going into. There may be as film playing that you child may be interested in, but other children will be making a noise and maybe wandering around causing disruption to your child’s viewing. Your child may not be interested in the film and be the child who is annoying others.

There are many things that can cause a meltdown at this time of year, but don’t let that stop you celebrating it your way, inform the school of any concerns you have, so that you can help prepare your child to be able to enjoy the festivities as much as possible.

Each week through December I will be blogging about a different aspect of the holiday season.


Thank you parents

I know that one person reading this will think it is aimed at her, but it isn’t. This week’s blog is about teachers, teaching assistants and supporters who become part of a child’s life. We have professional boundaries we cannot cross, yet we also have a moral commitment to the individual. We have access to so much confidential and personal information that we may know more about the child and the family than many of their friends do. There may be some professional reading this who will consider my next statement unprofessional, but I also develop a strong relationship with the people I work with, they are my friends, in many cases the people I am teaching or supporting have become more of a friend than my colleagues. But then at the end of the school year or the term or if I need to move jobs I am taken away from this very special ‘friend’. I may never see them again, but I do often think about them. The young girl from Edinburgh who attended the residential college I worked in. Where is she now? She will no longer be in the care system. Is she happy? Has she overcome her difficulties? Does she still dye her hair Orange? Or there are the boys I worked with at Newcastle College, did they ever go on to become the architect and accountant they wanted to be. Does the oldest one still drive? What happened when they left care? There are the sad questions about the ladies I taught in the prison, are they still offending? How are their children coping? Are they in the offending cycle? Are they still alive? The care home I worked in where I had to leave after whistle blowing, are the residents still there? If not where are they now? Has the home improved its standards of care? So many people have touched my life, allowed me to enter their world for a brief moment in time, but they have left me with so much. They have ignited my passion for what I do; they encouraged me to learn more about the autistic world and inspired me to pass on my knowledge to improve the lives of others.

Not only do we build attachments with the people we work with and support but they give us so much that they never really leave us. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for them, those wonderful people on the autistic spectrum who cannot cope with changes, who find socialising difficult and who have difficulty imaging a world without you in it. We as teachers move on and leave, sometimes very quickly, we may not be forgotten but the memories may be tainted by the anxiety caused by us leaving.

I would just like to say to all parents that the decisions we make as carers, teachers, support workers or teaching assistants to move on is never an easy one, and we never forget your children, they have moulded us, helped us, and touched our lives forever.

Thank you for allowing us time with your child.