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Over the years a lot of good work has been done to raise awareness of autism. Many people are now aware of autism but there is still so much to do to help people really understand the condition and how it impacts people's lives in so many different ways. World Autism Awareness Day is our golden opportunity each year to help educate ourselves and our communities about autism and celebrate the achievements of those within the autistic community.
As always, the National Autistic Society (NAS) is playing a leading role in Autism Awareness Week in the UK. Their dedicated Autism Awareness Week in schools' page is packed full of ideas and resources to help make the most of the week. They have put together a range of activities and resources including videos aimed at primary and secondary schools, as well as plans and slides for assemblies.
The NAS are also running a campaign called Super 7 where they are asking us to create art, bake, work out, walk/run, get gaming, hold a quiz or make music to raise money for the NAS. Check out the video below or visit the Super 7 page.
Earlier this year the IncludED Team launched a new resource, IncludED In Your Classroom. This series of information posters with linked web pages that provide additional information and resources cover a range of topics including Supporting Autistic Learners in Your Classroom.
Look, Think, Do is a photo-based resource for pupils with social and communication needs. This visual resource is divided into four key sections: Learning to Play; Learning to Say; Learning to Change; Learning to Help Myself. Editable storyboards bring difficult situations to life in a non-threatening manner and enable pupils to discuss solutions and strategies, and alternative and ideal endings.
For those of you with an LGfL Subscription, you also have access to our Widgit portal with a searchable database of over 15,000 symbols and over 1000 ready-made, symbolised texts, and activity packs.
The Autism Education Trust World Autism Awareness Week Page has lots of links to helpful guides, standards and frameworks to support learners, schools and parents.
Ambitious about Autism has a great page about understanding autism which covers topics such as “what causes autism”, “how to talk about autism” and “autism and associated conditions”.
Learning Through Movement is an LGfL training resource that looks at the importance of movement to support learning. The resource has units covering, maintaining focus/movement breaks, supporting handwriting, creating sensory circuits and providing interventions ; all areas which can be highly relevant to our learners who are on the autistic spectrum.
Another LGfL resource, Multisensory Learning has a focus on physical and sensory needs. The resource provides a range of videos, PowerPoint slide presentations and other helpful information to help staff understand the sensory needs of young people and practical ways you can help meet those needs.
When delivering training on autism, I like to share a few of the books that I’ve found most interesting on the subject. Here are a few of my favourites but please post a comment or send a message on Twitter or Facebook if there are any you have come across which I’ve not listed here.
NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and How to Think Smarter About People Who Think Differently - Steve Silberman
The Autistic Brain - Temple Grandin and Richard Panek
The Reason I Jump: one boy's voice from the silence of autism - Naoki Higashida
Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism Dr Barry Prizant
Although this is not a book' the journal article covers a topic that people often bring up when discussing autism and how we refer to people who are “on the spectrum”.
Which terms should be used to describe autism? Perspectives from the UK autism community
Finally, I’d like to make the point of saying that I am not Autistic but have worked with countless children and young people who are. There is a very valid movement that’s been around a while now from within the autistic community. It points out that a lot of people (me included) offer training and advice about autism but can’t really know what it is like to be autistic because we are not. So this Autism Awareness Week let’s start listening to those who know autism the best - autistic people themselves.
Check out the hashtag #ActuallyAutistic to get the most valid insight you can from the people who know autism best. As a starting point, I highly recommend following Dr Pooky Nightsmith on Twitter and Kerry’s Autism Journey on Facebook.
Make the most of World Autism Awareness Week and share what you get up to with us on Twitter or Facebook.