I am a highly experienced and qualified Autism Specialist Teacher with QTS and extensive knowledge and experience in the field of Autism Spectrum Disorders. I have more than 9 years of experience working with children and young adults with an autism spectrum diagnosis and I have worked in a diverse number of educational settings, including primary, secondary and further education learning environments in three different countries – England, Scotland and Greece. My main area of specialisation is working with children and young adults who have been clinically diagnosed with an autism spectrum ... Read More
I am a highly experienced and qualified Autism Specialist Teacher with QTS and extensive knowledge and experience in the field of Autism Spectrum Disorders. I have more than 9 years of experience working with children and young adults with an autism spectrum diagnosis and I have worked in a diverse number of educational settings, including primary, secondary and further education learning environments in three different countries – England, Scotland and Greece. My main area of specialisation is working with children and young adults who have been clinically diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder and who may also have a learning disability, associated disturbances and challenging behaviours such as aggression, self-injurious behaviours, impulsivity, irritability, social withdrawal or avoidance, hyperactivity, non-compliance, anxiety-related and emotional dysregulation disorders, social communication difficulties, including nonverbal communication, sensory processing difficulties, as well as emotional and behavioural difficulties. I am currently pursuing my PhD and my research is focusing on what factors trigger anxiety-related issues in autistic children with complex needs.
With more than nine years of teaching experience in special educational settings, I am adept at planning, delivering and evaluating instructional procedures for learners of different age groups, learning profiles and abilities. In addition, my on-the-job experience has afforded me a strong knowledge base in the area of SEN as well as a well-rounded skill set, including versatility in teaching methods and a strong commitment to setting high expectations which inspire, motivate and challenge learners.
I specialise at:
My specialist experience teaching students with Asperger’s/high-functioning autism:
- Autism support (low to high functioning (Asperger's)),
- Positive Behaviour Support (PBS),
- Behaviour management of challenging behaviours and application of de-escalation techniques,
- Intensive Interaction approach,
- Sensory Integration therapy with a major focus on emotional dysregulation, mindfulness, and sensory processing difficulties,
- Makaton sign language which strengthens the expressive communication of nonverbal and partially verbal individuals with autism and other special educational needs.
My experience of working with children with high-functioning autism (HFA) has taught me that staying consistent as well as reinforcing the establishment of a highly-structured and rigid routine can ease the unpredictability of unexpected changes. Another important tool that proves effective for children with HFA is the use of visual supports including the use of a visual schedule of activities, a Now & Next board as well as a Choice Board. These visual supports are essential and support autistic children to understand the sequence of activities and most importantly, what to expect next. In addition to alleviating anxiety that derives from unpredictability of unexpected changes, visual tools also support autistic children to develop a better understanding of the nature of their daily tasks and activities. While working with a child with HFA, it is also important to reward flexibility and praise the child whenever they cope with a change or an unexpected event. For example, when an activity is cancelled or postponed, it is important to remind the child how wonderful it is that they are ‘flexible’ and get the child to associate this skill with getting something they like, like attention. Furthermore, it is essential to remember that children with HFA have their own, unique way of processing information. This means that they have their own way of decoding and learning new concepts. It is always helpful to allow them additional time to process the information before proceeding to the next stage of an activity. Another strategy that has proven effective from my past experience is providing a short break, often called a ‘choice time’, after the completion of an activity. Since autistic children may find it quite difficult to switch between activities, it is essential that that they are allowed additional time before they transition to the next stage of the activity. This strategy also increases the productivity and attention span of the child since they know that after completing a task, they will be rewarded with an activity of their choice, e.g. listening to their favourite song, spending some time on their iPad, etc. Moreover, another tool that helps children with HFA to cope with unexpected changes of daily life is the use of social stories. Social stories are a good way to let an autistic child know about a future change or a visit to an unfamiliar environment, e.g. a visit to the dentist. Finally, building a relationship of trust with the autistic child plays a major role in helping the them to achieve their full potential. As a tutor, I believe that getting to know the child really well, what their preferences and dislikes are as well as their needs are key ingredients for success.
My specialist experience providing creative and fun sessions to help autistic students engage in learning: Each child with an autism spectrum diagnosis exhibits a different and unique behavioural profile. Some autistic children have a highly focused level of interest in particular topics, including music, arts, maths, astronomy, cars, etc. As a tutor, I find it extremely useful to incorporate the special interests or preferences of an autistic child into the learning process. This facilitates meaningful engagement and learning. Simply put, the autistic child appears more focused, more interested in completing the activity as well as more able to engage with the task for longer periods of time. Besides special interests, another key factor that enhances the attention span and productivity of autistic children is the delivery of creative and fun activities. As a tutor, I consider that hands-on activities that involve multi-sensory elements such as pictures, sounds, movement and/or scents motivate autistic children to a great extent and promote learning, creativity, exploration and enjoyment.
Individualised way of teaching and learning:
I am passionate about delivering high-quality, individualised teaching that is designed and developed to meet the individual cognitive profile and needs of the student. I am adamant that the ‘one-size-fits-all-approach’ is rather ineffective and that each learner requires their own pace of instruction. As such, I always tailor my teaching strategies and instructional materials to individual need, aptitude, interest and preference.
Holistic instructional model:
My teaching method embraces a holistic approach that addresses all areas of development of learners, including their cognitive profile, their affective (or emotional) needs, as well as their social needs. A holistic approach to teaching is the basic tenet of self-determined and solution-focussed approaches to learning.
Strong collaboration with parents, schools and cross-sectional professionals:
I am a fervent believer that the key to success while working with students with special educational needs relies heavily on the strong, positive and consistent communication and collaboration between parents and professionals. Aa a skilful educator, I understand the importance of building a support network for my students between school, home and myself, and I am always willing to be the first to initiate that network. I consistently strive for developing strong relationships with parents, schools and other cross-sectional professionals such as Speech and Language therapists, Occupational therapists and Physiotherapists in order to ensure cross-setting consistency in intervention implementation which ultimately increases the potential for generalisation and maintenance of positive outcomes in learners.
Identification and assessment of individual strengths, weaknesses and abilities:
During my tenure as an Special Needs Teacher in the past nine years, I have acquired invaluable experience in carrying out diagnostic assessments, updating and implementing Individual Education Plans, reviewing Education, Health and Care Plans, developing Schemes of Learning for my courses, taking part in Annual Review meetings, as well as liaising directly with external agencies, including local authority services. I have developed a deep understanding of how to effectively assess a student’s needs, abilities and weaknesses, and how to move towards by putting the right strategies in place in order to successfully meet the EHCP outcomes and support the student to achieve their full potential.