Autism: ‘If only I knew then what I know now’

Every student starting teacher training should expect to learn about autism in their course, following the publication of the 2016 teacher training framework. I’ve been a teacher for 18 years and wish this training has been in place when I was studying. It would have made a huge difference to my early years in the classroom. Tes reports

Almost straight after my initial training I started teaching an autistic student, but I hadn’t been given the knowledge of autism or tools of the trade I needed to understand and help him learn. No doubt many other colleagues feel the same. To this day, I still reflect upon that student with a great sense of guilt, convinced that I did him a disservice through ignorance.

This is why I have tried to take up the mantle of sharing good autism practice within mainstream schools. Teachers are professionals who work in complex and often challenging circumstances every day. They need and deserve to be equipped with the tools and knowledge to help every child in their class to reach their maximum potential. For training, the Autism Education Trust is a good place to start.

I still consider myself to have a long way to go on my autism journey. But here are some the things I’ve learnt so far that I wish I’d known when I was teaching that first student with autism.

Not all autistic children are the same

Every autistic child is different so get to know them as quickly as possible, read their education plan, utilise parental support (they ARE the experts) and work with your school’s SEN department to tailor your teaching to the specific needs of each student

Read more Autism: ‘If only I knew then what I know now’

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