How to Vastly Improve the Educational Experience for Young Children with Asperger’s Syndrome that cost the School or the LEA Nothing.

Whilst I keep saying, it is early days,but the difference in J in his new school is truly astounding. I went to bed thinking of what exactly this school has done so differently that has really helped him not just to cope, or ‘ exist’ at school but to seem so content. The answers that came to me are pretty simple really. They don’t require a statement or a huge amount of funding or even any funding and many are common sense. Here are the ones that spring to mind:-

1) As a teacher of a child with AS, read a little about AS… not a huge amount, just a five minute scan of most common signs on the internet would suffice to start. This means assumptions are not been made. ( At J’s last school, iIwas so tired of being told different things about my son that were incorrect, misread or downright untrue and there wasn’t a single person had the faintest idea about AS and not one had bothered to find out either.)

2) Greet the child on arrival and say goodbye on leaving. Be the adult. The child may not respond, don’t be petty and think ‘ I get nothing back, so I won’t bother’- the difference this can make to an AS child is huge. Don’t forget AS children desperately want to interact but find it incredibly difficult, so don’t assume they aren’t interested. 4 days of making the effort to greet J and his teacher was rewarded by the biggest smile yesterday:) This comes down to manners and common courtesy more than anything else.

4) Any change that is going to happen, inform the child. Not the parent, the child. They are not stupid. And will understand. I love the fact that J’s teachers always remind him which teacher will be there the next day. A simple, ‘ don’t forget J, it will be Mrs X in the morning, as I won’t be here, but I will see you on Thursday. Have a good few days and see you on Thursday.’ Perfect. He is informed, respected and understood by that little sentence.

5)Be respectful. Don’t shout like a banshee even if you feel like it and never belittle a child. ( that goes for all kids, but a kid with As is often hyper sensitive and will take even the slightest criticism to heart. J once tore a tissue to little pieces whilst a presentation was being done at his last school. His teacher began ‘ going off on one’ for want of a better expression…’ what silly thing to do, what did you do that, you are not a baby etc etc. If she had just said, ‘ Ooo would you like to put that in the bin J and if you need another, they are in the box over there.’ Mess tidied, child’s self esteem intact. Simple.

6) Know your child development. For example. It is perfectly ‘ normal’ for a 2 and 3 year old to play alongside other children, with little or no interaction. It is not normal for a 4- 5 year old, ( on occasion if the children are concentrating on something but on a regular basis with no other kind of play) especially if there is no eye contact or conversation. The child is not just shy or quirky. Be aware of it. Look at the AS’s child’s interests. J loves computers- yesterday his teacher paired him with a child who also likes computers and whilst there wasn’t much eye contact, J talked and talked and he came home and told me all about ‘ playing’ with this other child and he was pleased as punch!

7) Finally. Listen to parents. They are experts on their own child and the experience and insight of all the paediatricians educational or clinical psychologists or SENco’s in the world does not even start to come close to their understanding of their child.

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N.B. the title of this blog comes from my son’s very literal understanding of ‘ magic carpet ride’ ….. he believes this to be a ‘car pit’ ( as in ‘ sand pit’) and demonstrates this with a plastic lid and toy car. The magic comes in when the toy car is covered with the lid and it disappears!

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