My second and penultimate on-line summer course is complete! Thank goodness. I need a break from my laptop, although sitting outside studying in the sun wasn’t too dreadful!
A number of newly qualified or trainee teachers have contacted me via my Facebook page. Many asked why I choose particular courses, and which I would recommend. I chose this course for many reasons, partly for my CV, but mainly because I wanted and needed to know more about autism. I have always had an interest in the area of ASD, but the July provision programme this summer invigorated and renewed my thirst for knowledge in this area.  The July Provision programme served as an impetus to begin this course. I only wish I had completed the course prior to beginning July Provision, rather than near the end.

I am trained as both a teacher and an SNA, yet I didn’t know everything there is to know about the ASD spectrum. I am now planning on applying for a Research Masters in the area, but that’s a story for another post!
The best part of this course was all the additional readings and resources which were made available to us. I spent hours and hours reading about ASD, but I am still not entirely fulfilled. My thirst for knowledge in this area was sated, but not satisfied. I learned a lot, but what I learnt, made me want to learn more!

This course provided me with a wealth of information about ASD. It relayed the information in simple terms, which was helpful for those who don’t have a lot of knowledge or experience in this area. For those of us who may work as July Provision tutors next summer, I would recommend doing this course prior to starting the provision, if you don’t have a lot of experience with children with ASD’s. The author of the course recommends a book by Cumine et al (2003) entitled ‘Autism in the Early Years’ which addresses the early signs of autism. The author recommends this book for teachers who may be working with children who may be displaying signs of ASD. It provides a guide to understanding and working with children with ASD’s.
Here is an overview of the lessons in this course:

Lesson One:
Lesson one begins with a comprehensive list of the scales of ASD, i.e. mild, moderate, severe and profound. It details the abilities of the child at each level of ASD.
One quote in lesson one struck a chord with me. Grandin, an author who has autism, compares the ‘effects of loud noises to a dentist hitting a nerve’. (1996) this really made me think about how sensitive some children with ASD can be, and how the effects of certain stimuli can almost be painful to them. It is so important to be aware as possible of the needs and reactions of the child with ASD in a school setting.

Lesson one also gives a clear over-view of ‘echolalia’ which is when the child may repeat words in a parrot like effect without meaning. This however is a very positive sign, as it shows the child is attempting to communicate, and it displays signs of a strong working memory.
Lesson one also provides a synopsis of the four I’s when working with children with ASD: include, interpret, imitate and intrude.

Lesson Two:
Lesson Two deals with the ‘Theory of Mind’, which is far too detailed to go into in this review.
The author discusses the importance of play to social communication in lesson two. She gives a detailed summary of the ‘Floor Play’ philosophy, and social behaviour of children with ASD. She also provides teacher tips regarding calming a child with ASD if they become upset or deregulated.
The author speaks of the importance of structure in lesson three. There are three imperative areas of structure for children with ASD’s.
        I.            Structured environment
      II.            Structured timetable
    III.            Structured teaching approach
 
The author gives great detail in each of these section which would be very beneficial to a teacher with a child with ASD in his/her class.
The author then names and summarises the legislation governing the area of ASD. As a former law student, I found this to be a most detailed and comprehensive explanation of legislation.
The author also speaks of and details the following programmes:
TEACCH
ABA
PECS
The author discusses evidence based instructional strategies in lesson four, including:
Task analysis
Scaffolding
Modelling
Prompting
Social stories
The final lesson, provides information regarding the importance of collaboration between the school and parents for a child with ASD. It also gives information pertaining to the drawing up of an IEP, and what it should include.
I hope this helps those of you trying to make a decision about which course to do!
That’s all for now folks! I will review my next course presently, hopefully I will have it finished in time!
Slán,
Valerie

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