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Teachers with Autism

Discussion in 'Welcome lounge and forum help' started by surreyalpaca, Aug 23, 2020.

  1. AlpacaTeacher

    AlpacaTeacher New commenter

    Hi Everyone,

    I am about to start my Secondary SCITT training and have autism, are there any of the community who are already teachers with autism, who could with provide any usual advise on general teaching, noise, behaviour managment, anxiety, environment etc.

    Many thanks
  2. jarndyce

    jarndyce Occasional commenter

    First thing to do: make sure HR know. You are protected by the Equality Act and the employer should make reasonable adjustments if necessary - but can only do this if they know. I'd recommend your line manager know too, but it is your choice whether to disclose it to colleagues.

    There is nothing to stop you being a great teacher. I have had colleagues whom I either know for a fact are on the autistic spectrum, or whom I strongly suspect might be! It's worth saying that the National Autistic Society is totally useless - it assumes that autistic people will only ever do menial, manual, or administrative jobs (which I find quite offensive).

    In the classroom, I'm afraid there's not much I can suggest. Assuming you have done some classroom observation, you will know what a typical environment is like, and only you will know if it's something you can cope with. Perhaps it would be helpful to see yourself as an 'actor', putting on a 'performance' for the class. That's really what a lot of teachers do - inwardly I might be thinking "oh for f- sake!" but outwardly I'll be calmly saying "Now, that's not the standard of behaviour I expect...".

    Outside the classroom, it may be difficult, for example, to find a quiet place to do your marking. I don't know what to suggest as a trainee, but if you're an employee reasonable adjustments can and should be made. It's helpful if you can suggest these yourself, rather than them having to figure it out.

    Reasonable adjustments I have seen in place for autistic teachers have included:

    - Teacher to have own classroom (as in, the same room for every lesson)*.
    - Teacher can go to a quiet room (eg, an admin office or wherever) if having a crisis/'meltdown'. Another colleague had a 'safe space' that was basically a bench in a park by the school site.
    - A colleague who lived very close to the school was allowed to go home during lunch/non-contact time in order to be able to work quietly, with the condition he was signed into email so could be contacted by HoD.
    - Regular meetings with line manager or HR about the teacher's welfare (ie, not scheme of work planning or department matters).

    (*in many schools, this is actually the case for most teachers. But if it's written down as a reasonable adjustment, then it means 'While all teachers should have their own classroom where possible, surreyalpaca must".)
  3. BillyBobJoe

    BillyBobJoe Lead commenter

    One thing I and other autistic teachers find really important is to be told what's going on. More information is almost always better for relieving anxiety, most of which is linked to uncertainty. Sometimes the unexpected happens in schools, but it can be minimised by competent managers flagging things up in advance. Some teachers have, for example, asked that they always be timetabled for their maximum class contact time so that they can't be taken for cover.

    For classroom management it's a good idea to have mapped out in your head how to handle common situations.
    strawbs likes this.
  4. EmoomE

    EmoomE New commenter

    Hi, I have Aspergers and taught for 10 years in primary. It’s great that you know that you have Autism because you can use strategies to help you: Having a quiet space to de stress for 5 mins, making to do lists so that things do not overwhelm you. Wearing invisible earbuds that block out some white noise, learning not to be too direct with parents . You will also encounter several other teachers who definitely have autism but have never been diagnosed. You will probably find the overall timetable of the day very comforting. Lots of Aspies have this desire for the truth, authenticity validity and knowledge, so teaching and researching your subject will serve you well. Just be careful of not burning yourself out. The only thing I struggled with are the power struggles and the cheating. Some Aspies can be straight forward souls and all the backbiting and power struggles can be an unwanted distraction.Just keep to yourself without appearing rude, be pleasant to everyone but
    DONT confide in anyone.

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