This half term I have been super busy! Far busier than is recommended for a holiday period. I have barely had time to eat, sleep or rest, the reason is an incredibly cute black ball of fluff known as Noodles. He is 14 weeks old and is going to be our school therapy dog. I am exhausted from training this little fella but I’m sure he’ll be worth it when we see the benefits the children gain from having him around. More about Noodles another time.
The one task I did set myself apart from puppy training was to complete a book review.
How to support Pupils with Autistic Spectrum Condition in Primary School by Lynn McCann
I have been waiting for some time to review this book by Lynn McCann. It is now my absolute pleasure to share with you my thoughts on it.
The book begins with the author giving us a little information about herself. After all, anyone can call themselves an expert and there seems to be no real definition of an expert. A quick scroll through Lynn’s credentials will prove that she has a long list of qualifications and experience. The reader is drawn into trusting Lynn right from the preface to the book.
Chapter one gives an overview of what Autustic Spectrum Condition (ASC) is, how it manifests itself, the diagnosis and the value of the multidisciplinary team reaching an agreed conclusion re diagnosis. Lynn goes to great pains to explain that there is no one definition of ASC. She goes on to explain the world from the viewpoint of an autistic person and how this affects many aspects of their daily lives.
Chapter 2 gives us tips on how to create an ASC friendly classroom. As we all know if it’s good for SEND it’s good for all children. Lynn’s ideas are invaluable and will save the reader much handwringing in trying to avoid a sensory meltdown in what should be a safe haven for a child with ASC.
Chapters 3 and 4 discuss communication difficulties, language delay, echolalia and much more. Visual communication and its value is discussed and Lynn cites research from others which is valuable in embedding her own ideas.
There then follows an array of visuals which may be copied or adapted for a child in any setting who is coping with change or generally feeling a little anxious about a situation. There are symbol based resources and written resources depending on the level of understanding of the child. There are many personalized resources which make the teacher or TA think of related items which may help children who need them. Also, behaviour support tips are available throughout the book.
The book moves into the realms of accessing the curriculum. The advice is there from EYFS through to KS2 and includes all the curriculum subjects. At every opportunity we are reminded that children on the spectrum are all different and are provided with aids to help in different situations. One case study relating to an anxious year 4 boy details how in two terms he was included in his class and achieving in his work using Lynn’s strategies. Remarkable feat.
Chapter 6 is all about sensory processing and how to support children who need extra help in this area. Sensory diet is explained and useful information is given as to the reasons why some children face sensory processing challenges.
Lynn gives helpful advice on the use of TAs, home/school partnerships and how to help children develop organizational skills. Real life situations are discussed such as turn taking, waiting and queuing, skills we all need.
Possibly my favourite part of the book is where social stories are discussed. For me, these are the key to soothing many a perplexed child or young person.
Behaviour, meltdowns and tantrums can all pose real nightmares for busy teachers, advice can be found within the pages of this book for dealing with all of these. Lynn provides her solutions in a clear and easy to read manner.
Lastly, there is help and advice for those important social skills. This is an area which children with ASC often find the most challenging and which impacts the most on the lives of themselves and their family. Lynn devotes a whole chapter to this area.
Throughout the book there are useful case studies to help the reader to relate things to their own settings. The book is positive and concentrates on aspects that children with ASC can achieve and excel in and supports the reader with this. The book is beautifully laid out and can be read as a one off or you can dip in and out for a quick consultation when you hit a problem.
This book is a must read!