Could new SEN reform nurture independence in people with autism? – Autism in Practice – September 2014

In the final feature for the September 2014 issue of Autism in Practice, I focused on changes made to Special Educational Needs (SEN) reform that came into action in Great Britain at the start of the 2014-15 academic year in September 2014. With updated provisions potentially offering support to people with a disability in education up to the age of 25, rather than the previous limit of the age of 19, changes were made in what could be offered and for how long it could be offered as a way of hopefully making a positive difference.

The Children and Families Act, introducing major reforms to the Special Educational Needs (SEN) system in England, came into force on Monday 1st September 2014.

Under the new act that has been created to provide in part “greater protection to vulnerable children” and also “a new system to help children with special educational needs and disabilities”, a new provision will be rolled out over a three-year period that could support people with a disability aged up to 25. Continue reading

What makes a good Social Story? – Autism in Practice – September 2014

In the third feature of four for the September 2014 issue of Autism in Practice, I attempted to find out more about Carol Gray’s Social Stories concept. Carol developed Social Stories as a way of helping people with autism to share their experiences, while also considering how their feelings may affect the feelings of others through body language and facial expressions.

Carol Gray is an American author and presenter with an interest in the autism spectrum. Earlier in her career, she was a teacher and later a consultant to students with autism in Jenison, Michigan.

From creating communication techniques that could help to recognise feelings in life events, she developed Social Stories in 1991 as a concept that educates as well as innovates. From having a conversation with a student in her care, she believed “it was apparent that his perception of a recent incident was different” from her own and that through making notes on individual descriptions of the same incident, “we were able to identify the differences in our understanding and resolve the problem”. Continue reading

A new project looks to raise autism awareness in sport – Autism in Practice – September 2014

In the second feature of four for the September 2014 issue of Autism in Practice, I looked into the creation of Active for autism. As an initiative from The National Autistic Society, it is looking to work with sports coaches in Great Britain to build a greater awareness of autism in young people who may be looking to stay active.

The National Autistic Society is looking to work with sports coaches in a bid to include more people with autism in sport across the UK from January 2015.

With support from The Peter Harrison Foundation, a charity developed to assist disabled people who may struggle to find opportunities that can help them to move forward in life, the Sylvia Adams Trust, the Weinstock Fund and HiT Entertainment, Active for autism will attempt to make sporting activities enjoyable where they may currently be daunting. Continue reading

A socially awkward (Philip) Stewart! – Autism West Midlands – July 2014

As a new guest blogger for Autism West Midlands’ Connect, a social media community where people with autism and loved ones of people with autism can come together to share real experiences and beliefs, A socially awkward (Philip) Stewart! gave me a chance to share a little bit of myself with likeminded people. You can read the original version of the blog piece on the Autism West Midlands website or read it below.

Communication and social skills have always been a problem area for me. As a child and as a teenager, I spent a lot of time on my own at home and at school.

On the subject of communicating for people with autism, like myself, it is believed “individuals with autism often lack an understanding of what communication is for” and that “not realising they can have an impact on their world and the people in it, they may fail to develop the essential communication skills the rest of us take for granted”. Continue reading

Working together to assist job seekers with autism – Autism in Practice – July 2014

As the focal point of my final feature for the July 2014 issue of Autism in Practice, I had the opportunity to explore the relationship between The National Autistic Society and Tate in assisting people with autism in employment. As this is an area I’m passionate about from personal experience, it was a pleasure to find out how employees with autism are now being successfully integrated into the workplace.

Only 15% of all people with autism in Great Britain are currently in full-time employment.

The National Autistic Society offer specialist training and consultancy services to employers to help recruiters and managers to become autism confident. Eleanor Martin, Manager of The National Autistic Society’s Employment Training Service, says: “For many people with autism, all they need is a combination of the right support and the opportunity to make their ambitions a reality.” Continue reading

Autism in Pink EU project concludes with free web resources – Autism in Practice – July 2014

In the second feature of three for July 2014’s Autism in Practice, I had the chance to find out more about Autism in Pink, an EU-funded project that helped to bring women with autism together from Great Britain, Lithuania, Portugal and Spain. The project aimed to show how autism can present differently in the female form, rather than the male form. This has resulted in issues that can prevent women from receiving the autism diagnosis they seek.

Autism in Pink was a project for women with autism funded by the EU and supported by The National Autistic Society in Great Britain, Lithuania’s Edukaciniai Projektai, Portugal’s Federacao Portuguesa de Autismo and Spain’s Autismo Burgos.

The project embraced the phrase “nothing about us, without us”, gathering a group of women with autism in each country to attend workshops, giving them a unique opportunity to contribute to the materials produced by the project, meet influencers and politicians as well as attending international events to meet the groups from other countries. By taking part in the project’s research to produce materials to increase awareness and help others, many of the women volunteers themselves gained more personal insight, increased their confidence and overcame personal challenges. Continue reading

Asperger’s syndrome and mental health: A personal perspective – Autism in Practice – July 2014

In the first feature of three for the July 2014 issue of Autism in Practice, I had the pleasure of meeting Callum McCrosson, a man with autism who has dealt with mental health issues along a journey that has resulted in him becoming employed by The National Autistic Society. His story inspired me as I live with depression and anxiety myself.

Callum McCrosson, 26, was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome when he was 23. He has also experienced life with a mental health issue as a teenager that left him isolated.

Ten years after he first experienced panic attacks that manifested as stomach cramps and muscular contractions, he developed a mental health issue he now feels was “mostly caused by being autistic and not being aware of it.” Continue reading