Mark Le Messurier, New Year 2019, educator workshop 8 of 12
Let's get personal - Placing Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) into a healthier perspective
Ideas and attitudes to structure better outcomes (2-3 hours)
The truth is, that Autism is often a game changer for a teacher; either very negatively or positively.
Firstly, Autism is a distinctly different experience for every one of us. It exposes our values and insights about the neuro-diversity of human beings. On the one hand, it is politically correct to embrace neurodiversity. But, Autism in all its glory - especially in the early years - really tests our capacity to do 'the talk' AND 'the walk'. Currently in Australia, Autism is being identified at the rate of about 1 in 90 children. In the US Autism is running at 1 in 60. Appreciating Autism, and how to work with it, is another way to expand our professional and personal toolboxes as an educator today.
In this session you will learn some facts about Autism, but this isn't my goal. My aim is very personal.
It is to introduce you to several people identified with Autism, in the hope you will be touched in a way that facts alone cannot touch you. What you will discover are a collection of variables that collide together to create uniquely different versions of Autism, and that's why everyone is so different and no one single treatment, or intervention, works perfectly well. Personality also plays a strong role, as does anxiety levels, sensory processing differences, emotional and social flexibility, intelligence, learning difficulties, capacity that permit quick, easy change or 'to go with the flow,' concentration, natural talents, interests and obsessions or the lack of them. And, the depth of Autistic traits, or core processing differences, can strengthen or soften, over the years.
In the early years, these kids don't make ideal students at school, ideal siblings, ideal sons or daughters: they're not always eager to learn, rarely immediately compliant, can be highly reactive, highly anxious, over sensitive, too obsessional, too rigid, and misunderstand what appear to be straightforward social interactions. While an early diagnosis and early intervention is preferable, there is a temptation for parents and educators to subscribe to what I call a 'deficit model'. An over-focus on what's missing and what interventions will 'repair' 'fix-up' or 'top them up'. Over time, most of us shift our thinking from a 'deficit model', to a much healthier strength-based model where we see the young adult as a whole, healthy human being. We learn that time, growth, maturation, some targeted skill building and loving connectedness are prime collaborators. Sure, they may still have Autism, but we reach a point where we can embrace their diverse abilities, enjoy their quirkiness and even celebrate them!
Like it or not, these young people struggle to find themselves and a way into the world. They remain dependent on our understanding, on our commitment to inspire, structure, chunk, prompt and coach for much longer than we'd choose. Armed with this background and approach, we can become a positive and progressive force in the lives of ALL students, not just the more vulnerable.
Educator workshops are intended for staff working in schools, for clinicians such as counsellors, psychologists, OT's, speech pathologists, social workers and youth workers working in private practice and for parents running home school. To arrange a workshop at a time that suits your staff, simply contact Mark:
Mark Le Messurier
Phone (08) 83320698,