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Self Awareness and Cultural Identity for ASD students

Discussion in 'Special educational needs' started by whitleyjen, Aug 21, 2015.

  1. Hello!

    I am new to the forum, I'm starting my NQT year at an SEN school in 2 weeks (eek!) and I am hoping someone can give me some ideas because I'm stuck!

    I will have a mixed class, 4 students aged from 9-15, all moderate to severely affected by ASD. 2 students are non verbal. I am trying to follow the previous teacher's medium planning to create my own for next term but I am stumped by the theme I've been given. She told me she usually chooses a book and bases all her planning around that, however the whole school has been given a focus for the first half term of 'self-awareness and cultural identity' and I am really struggling to find a book that fits with that and is accessible for my students. I am slowly running out of time, and having many sleepless nights over it so I was wondering if anyone could offer any suggestions of books they've used or just know of?

    Also if anyone has any general suggestions on how to stop feeling so utterly terrified at the thought of September 2nd, I'd be very grateful!

    Jen
     
  2. Jo3Grace

    Jo3Grace New commenter

    Hello

    What an interesting puzzle. I was not able to think of a book off the top of my head either. However I do have a couple of suggestions - these are by no means the best things to do, just how I would go about solving the problem.

    1) (This will sound a little strange at first but hold out) the Holocaust Memorial Day trust produce free teaching resources for special schools each year. These are not aimed at scaring children with horrific stories from history, they are aimed at creating a future where things like the Holocaust do not happen, so they are about understanding and respecting difference - something which would tie into your theme nicely. This year's resources will be released in September and will include a sensory statement about how we are all different but we should respect each other and stand up for each other. If you're curious about this option you're welcome to email me on sensorystory@gmail.com and I could offer more support. They will also be releasing life stories of different people, which again could highlight what is meant by cultural identity.

    2) Appreciating that beginning your NQT year with work about the Holocaust may be a little ambitious a softer option could be to write a story about yourself. You are a new teacher, it is good to introduce yourself. So write a story, about who you are, including your cultural identity. Make it with a strong format, e.g. so that page one is about your family, page two about your likes and dislikes, page three about your culture and so on (you'll need more than 3 pages, but probably 6 would be enough). Each page could have a single overview statement - that could be accessed by everyone, and paragraph information which could be accessed by those who are great readers. Your work for the first half term could then be for each of them to make their own version of your book.

    There is no cure for the NQT nerves, only the balm that everyone feels them and the teachers in your new school will all have been through it, they won't need you to impress them, they will want to help you, so if you are nervous about anything ask them, and even if you're not nervous.

    When I was an NQT there were two NQTs in the school I was at. I thought I had to show everyone that I was fine and knew what I was doing so that they would trust the new teacher. The other NQT was a little older and wiser than me. She asked for help all the time and consequently got to know things that people who had been teaching for 10 years knew. She got their experience directly from them, where as I had to learn it all by myself. Her route was a much better way than mine!

    Best wishes.

    Jo
     
    dzil likes this.
  3. Jo3Grace

    Jo3Grace New commenter

    A friend just pointed out that there is an autistic community, with a sense of cultural identity. Many people with autism can spend a long time thinking they are different, or in some way 'wrong' for being as they are. Connecting with the autistic community can be a kind of home coming, a way of coming to understand that there is nothing wrong with being autistic and a lot to celebrate, a lot of heros around to look up to. Perhaps as part of your identity and cultural identity you could connect them with this community - maybe their are adults with autism in your area who would come into school to talk to them. I used to have an adult with autism volunteer as a helper in my class and he often gave great insights into what the students were going through, he remembered being like them.

    It has been said that people with autism do not have 'theory of mind'. There is a great speaker on autism: Zaffy Simone, who very clearly points out that they do have 'theory of mind' it is just for other autistic minds.
     
    dzil likes this.
  4. Hi Jo!

    Thank you so much for all of this, it's been very helpful! I particularly found your suggestion of involving the autistic community; the school is only for autistic students so I would imagine that something like this already exists but I shall be sure to ask when I start!

    I found a book the day after I posted this message (The Colors of Us, I'm excited because it uses smells and tastes, so perfect for my students!) but your suggestion of creating a booklet about myself that I can then get the students to recreate is genius! It also serves the dual purpose of me being able to find out things about my new students and for them to know things about me.

    Thank you so much for replying to me, I shall try to keep in mind your general NQT advice but I think experience is the answer to my conundrum.....

    Jen
     
  5. ro_stjohn

    ro_stjohn New commenter

    I am doing a book called 'Susan Laughs'...My students are similar and we are creating our own books (taking pictures and captioning them) and doing work on senses as my whole school theme is 'About Me'. How's it going?
     

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