There’s a new initiative to teach autism in some primary schools in the UK – http://www.aukids.co.uk/np68.shtml
Autism Taught in New Primary School Initiative
Wednesday, 1 Jul 2015
Year Three, Four and Six pupils are currently learning about what life is like for those on the autistic spectrum as part of their weekly timetable.
The pupils, aged seven to ten, are being taught about common symptoms and given practical tips about how to build better relationships with their autistic classmates.
Students will also be encouraged to “develop a meaningful understanding” of how autistic pupils may feel in a variety of potentially challenging social situations.
It is hoped that the voluntary initiative will enable youngsters to become generally more inclusive and empathetic to others’ needs.
The initiative is based on the publication of a specially-written new book about a boy with Asperger Syndrome.
Children will read from the book, entitled ‘Arty Tardy’, in lessons each week and talk about the “emotional wellbeing” of the main character as a class.
An accompanying lesson guide provides teachers and teaching assistants with a series of key points to discuss.
The scheme is currently on trial at three primary schools in London. As many as 20 others from across the UK are expected to follow suit in coming months.
If the six-week pilots at Kensington Primary School in Newham, Godwin Primary School in Dagenham and Ad-Deen Primary School in Redbridge are successful, the book will be added to their long-term curriculum and become compulsory reading in future years.
The initiative was yesterday welcomed by the National Autistic Society, which has previously criticised local authorities for “continually underestimating” the educational impact of autism.
It also follows a 30 per cent annual rise in the number of appeals lodged at special educational needs and disability tribunals by parents with autism.
The schools’ headteachers yesterday said the scheme has the potential of reducing bullying whilst safeguarding those with autism from being forced out of mainstream education and into specialist schools.
Julie Phillips, of Godwin Primary, said: “We provide for a number of SEN pupils and aspire to create an effective learning community for all children, whatever their special educational needs.
“We actively encourage inclusivity among our pupils and this book offers a new and exciting way to celebrate diversity with our key stage 2 classes.
“Through shared reading based around Arty Tardy, we will help children to understand and appreciate things from the perspective of someone with autism.
“Inclusivity in the classroom benefits all pupils in their education and personal development, and by schools adding regular inclusivity lessons into the curriculum there is the real potential of reducing incidences of bullying and exclusion.”
The new scheme, which is voluntary and is free to join, aims to raise awareness of the difficulties that children with autism and Special Educational Needs (SEN) face on a daily basis – often in secret.
Participating schools are provided with copies of Arty Tardy, a specially-produced book about a boy nicknamed Tardy as he struggles to understand life in and adapt to mainstream education. Told through Tardy’s eyes, it details the complexities and challenges that he – and most other children with SEN and autism – face.
Author and inclusiveness campaigner Kitty Clairmont, a trainee teacher at Ad-Deen Primary School, said the book sets out to break down the stigma surrounding autism and the way in which it is dealt with in mainstream schools.
The mum-of-three from Newham, who has worked with SEN children for five years, believes schools must do more to facilitate the inclusion of all pupils.
“No children, with and without SEN, are ‘mainstream’ at all. All children need the support, empathy and friendship of their peers and teaching staff to thrive,” she said.
Judith Brown, Head of Autism Knowledge and Expertise, at the National Autistic Society (NAS) said: “At the NAS, we know that the majority of children with autism are in mainstream education and they can feel misunderstood by their classmates and teachers. It’s vitally important that teachers are equipped with greater knowledge and understanding about autism and a range of approaches. To help meet this need, the NAS are providing teachers and other mainstream school staff throughout the UK with free autism-specific information and resources as part of the My World campaign, http://www.autism.org.uk/myworld.
“Arty Tardy provides another useful resource for mainstream schools. Bullying often occurs when children don’t understand why people behave differently, and Arty Tardy invites both children and adults to step into the shoes of Tardy, the main character who has autism. Written through a fun narrative, the book explores sensitive issues and key features of autism, such as inflexibility, sensory differences and social misinterpretation.
“This pilot has the potential to explain autism to primary school children in a novel way, by using Arty Tardy to support creative elements of the school curriculum. It will also provide an opportunity to trial the teaching resources, particularly to ensure they are used sensitively with children in the class who have autism, as well as to develop a greater understanding and empathy amongst their peers.”
The scheme has also won the support of Elizabeth Kangethe, the Mayor of Barking and Dagenham.
She added: “Kitty is a passionate campaigner for inclusivity and her Arty Tardy scheme has a lot to offer schools, not only in Barking and Dagenham but across London.
“Godwin Primary is to be commended for being involved in the pilot and its forward-thinking approach to inclusivity is sure to catch on in the education system.”
I will be visiting participating schools this week now that the scheme has run its course. I have had lots of positive feedback so far and I can’t wait to hear the children’s final views and find out if it has made a difference. I’ve already been told about two autistic children who have identified so much with the main character that they refuse to go anywhere without it!
Wow! how wonderful and so touching! It’s the biggest reward I could ask for!
There will also be a book signing at Ad-Deen Primary School in Ilford on Thursday – so looking forward to it!
What a busy week it has been! I visited the three schools participating in my pilot scheme. Each class read ARTY TARDY and we analysed it together. I got some really good constructive feedback and they told how much they are enjoying it. I’m so pleased that it has already helped so many adults and children alike to understand life from the perspective of a child with autism for that was the aim of the book. It’s good that it has provoked so much thinking and already it is the favourite book of two autistic children in the schools I am working in. I am truly humbled – and delighted.
My son, the budding photographer and also the book cover designer was on hand to take photographs and did a great job. The story will be going to press shortly.
There has also been interest in the book from educational press and establishments and the book itself is going to be offered in various competitions – I will keep you posted!
If anyone wants a taster – pop along to my website and listed to the first two chapters! I hope you enjoy!
Three schools from Newham, Dagenham and Redbridge have expressed an interest and have started reading the book with children. The hope is that it can help to integrate SEN pupils and promote understanding of Autism and in particular Asperger. There has already been some excellent feedback with pupils and parents who have connected with the book and for whom it has made a difference.
It has also just been selected by a school as a resource to fulfil the Inclusivity Module for their QuILT Accreditation – great news!
There is a PHOTO SHOOT next week where I look forward to meeting pupils, reading the book with them and having a Q&A session!
I’ll keep you updated about future news/media interest as it comes in.
Don’t forget to check out the Children’s Review page on my website to read what some of the children have to say!
How do you teach grammar, punctuation and spelling in primary schools in a way that sparks children’s interest? Trainee and beginning teachers often find the teaching of grammar, punctuation and spelling especially challenging as they are not confident in their own knowledge. This book explores and provides the subject knowledge you will need to teach grammar, punctuation and spelling and gives guidance on how to teach it. It helps you to build confidence in your own knowledge, opening up the subject and enabling them to approach teaching with ease. Examples of effective lessons show you how to engage children’s interest in some of the more formal aspects of writing and throughout, activities and practical examples demonstrate how you can translate this learning into the classroom.
What a wonderful review!!!
“The book isn’t preachy, and nor is it moralistic. It does, however, pack a powerful message: That schools must do more to facilitate the inclusion of SEN children. It also identifies the single-most important point of mainstream education – that no children, with and without SEN, are “mainstream” at all. All children need the support of their peers and teaching staff to thrive.”
This afternoon I had a lovely ⅵsit to Earlham Primary School where I used to work as a Teaching Assistant. Head Teacher Laura Hewer was so warm and welcoming and it was great to see the staff and children who still remembered me! Even better is the fact that the teacher I used to work with – Miss Kirby – my hero and role model is going to be reading ARTY TARDY with a Year 6 class!
What a wonderful afternoon!
- How do you deal with writer’s block?
- What’s the best thing about being a writer?
- What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
- What are you currently working on?
- How do you get inspired to write?
- Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?
You have to be patient – just like cooking – certain elements need to be harmony. I have spent a week even more waiting for ‘it all to fit into place’ – then a movie starts playing in my head and I TALK to the computer through typing. I don’t care about spelling or grammar I just let it spill out. Often I produce more during that intense period of writing than at any other time when I have tried to ‘force’ it.Go with the flow – do anything but think about what you’re stuck on – it will come.
I am often moved to tears and certainly have a lump in my throat when someone tells me how much my writing means to them – how it has changed their outlook on life – how they feel that they are no longer ‘alone’.
It never changes, I am always humbled to have touched another’s soul in that way.
Write about what gets you excited, personal experiences are always a good starting point. Tap into your passion and forget about what it’s supposed to look like. Get it down – there’s plenty of time later to edit.If you don’t enjoy writing then there’s no point. If you love it – then don’t let anything stand in your way!
‘Bonny Bonnie’ is about a child with Downs Syndrome.I am also currently writing a teaching resource to accompany ‘Arty Tardy’ which will include workshops featuring art and drama.