Understanding autism and understanding your Autistic pupils are two very different things. AUsome training is designed and delivered by trainers who are Autistic themselves. Current research shows that somewhere between 1 in 28 and 1 in 65 pupils are Autistic. Advances in autism research and understanding can take decades to filter into SNA (special needs assistants) autism training courses. Our autism training for SNA’s gives you up to date strategies backed up by current research which is inline with the Autistic Community. Our training explains why the deficit model of autism is being left behind by many professionals in favour of the Neurodiversity model. It explains the negative effects that behavioural approaches have on the identity and sense of self of the Autistic pupil and provides you with better alternatives for supporting positive behaviour.
Our training will not talk about “triads of impairments” or any of those outdated and disproven ideas. Our autism training for SNA’s is designed to give you an in-depth understanding of your Autistic pupils so that you can reframe your thinking on autism and provide a more inclusive learning and social environment in your school. Autistic people have been excluded from the discussion and research around autism for decades. In other words, many autism training courses explain very little about Autistic people beyond out-dated and stereotypical representations. AUsome Training is fully Autistic-led. That means that our autism courses offer you the perspective of Autistic people which is often unfortunately lacking in autism courses for SNA’s and teaching assistants.
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Founder of AUsome Training Evaleen Whelton made the wonderful discovery that she is Autistic in 2014 at the age of 37. She has worked as a speech and drama teacher for over 20 years and uses her experience as a teacher and as an Autistic person to advise teachers and SNA’s on best practices for supporting their Autistic pupils. Evaleen has worked both in her own classes and in national and secondary school settings. She is author of Konnect Social Skills Books for Autistic children. These books are the first “social skills” books which take Autistic communication into account. Evaleen also hosted Ireland’s first ever all-autistic conference in February 2019 in Cork where all the speakers were Autistic themselves. She believes that Autistic voices and perspectives must be central to discussions on autism.
In her teaching with Konfident Kidz and training career Evaleen has worked with Dyslexia Association of Ireland, Muscular Dystrophy Ireland, Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, Foroige, Jack and Friends Centre for Autism and Rainbow Club Cork. Evaleen is passionate about making education and extra-curricular activities accessible to all children and young adults and has trained thousands of parents and professionals over the past three years.
Our autism training provides SNA’s with the knowledge, confidence and skills to support their Autistic pupils. As a result of the exclusion of Autistic people from the development of training programs there are many gaps in understanding and many myths and inaccurate ideas about us. First and foremost our training puts Autistic people at the very centre of our design and delivery. We focus on educating from the Autistic viewpoint. Secondly, our autism training sessions incorporate the latest thinking from the Autistic Community. Our information is carefully crafted in line with this thinking. Thirdly, we use up-to-date research to support these concepts. Our material combines well-established orthodox theory from psychology, sociology, neurology (and several other –ologies too at times) with the results of careful research and analysis within the Autistic Community itself for over a quarter century.
AUsome Training stands on the shoulders of those people, from Sinclair, Lawson, Willey, Williams and many others to the researchers of today such as Gernsbacher, Murray, Milton, and Kupferstein – tens of thousands of Autistics focused on a few simple but crucial questions. The answers we present in our autism training are often very similar to those described by our community decades ago, tested and found to be accurate, subjected to research and critiques for decades. We use up to date terminology that has taken time to develop, and certainly there’s been a lot of new science we can lean on, both from Autistic and non-Autistic authors that is now available through peer-reviewed journals and reference books, but the core message is the same, and you can check this for yourself by reviewing publications from 2008, 2005, 1998, and even into the early 1990s.
SNA’s will get an insight into the challenges Autistic pupils face in the school environment, whether that is primary or secondary level. Our training will give you tools to assess the physical and social environment so that your Autistic pupils can thrive instead of struggling to survive the school day. Our courses look at the demands placed on Autistic pupils to communicate, learn and behave in ways which are not natural to them and gives you strategies to make positive changes which are easy to implement. Our autism training will explain how Autistic pupils process their environment differently but also explain how the social environment is often different for the Autistic learner because of how they are perceived by others. AUsome training does not look at behaviours as simply “good” and “bad” or “appropriate” and “inappropriate” but looks at behaviour as a reflection of the environment and a way to communicate needs.
We have lots of helpful articles in our resources section that will explain more from the Autistic Perspective Read 7 ways to enhance social skills :
AUsome Training courses are not for everyone. Our autism training for SNA’s is designed to take your understanding of autism into 21st century. It will challenge you. It will mean that you have to unlearn almost everything you’ve already heard about autism thus far because it did not include the Autistic perspective. We understand that it’s a hard task to question your believes but we will help you through it. AUsome Training is crafted in line with thinking from the Autistic Community and recent research.
If you want to hear about core deficits of autism then we are not for you. If you want to learn how to stamp out or redirect “behaviours” then we are not for you because our training focuses on explaining why these “behaviours” occur. We show you ways to track the triggers and how to eliminate or alleviate the causes. We support you to develop a true understanding and empathy for the Autistic people in your school. Our autism training for SNA’s focuses on providing you with a genuine understanding of Autistic children and young adults.
AUsome Training is pro-Autistic and also acknowledges that Autistic people have many wonderful things to offer this world. We do not encourage behavioural approaches because we are acutely aware of the negative effects those approaches can have on Autistic pupils in school and on their mental health. Unfortunately these negative effects are often omitted from other autism courses for SNA’s and school staff. We use language that is inline with the Autistic Community and therefore we use “Autistic” and not “with autism” or “ASD”.
Yael Clark, Educational & Developmental Psychologist from Melbourne, Australia who recently completed our Get Konnected Social Skills Course describes her experience like this:
“Evaleen is going to make you think! She’ll challenge your assumptions and take your understanding of autism to a whole new level. As a trainer, an author, and as an autistic advocate, Evaleen has added both to my professional knowledge and my self-knowledge.”
There are many things to consider when supporting the very unique abilities and needs of Autistic children and young people. Autistic minds think and learn in different ways and therefore it is necessary to adapt your teaching, communication and environment to ensure Autistic pupils thrive in your school and classroom. Small changes can make a really big difference for your Autistic pupils and creating a more inclusive environment can make positive changes throughout the school for all pupils. While every Autistic pupil is different there are huge commonalities which make them Autistic and our autism courses for teachers will take you through these commonalities.
Autodidactic learning is a very natural way of learning for Autistic pupils however there is often little facilitation of self-teaching opportunities in schools. Our courses for SNA’s will help you to foster self-teaching and include opportunities for this in your classroom. Autistic people learn by experimenting, problem-solving and figuring out. We are pattern seekers and observers and often see relationships between topics that others do not. Motivating pupils to learn can also be a concern that arises for teachers and we will look at how communication and understanding Autistic thinking can help with this. Most of what people think “autism” is has been designed around assumptions made by the observer and are not the reality for Autistic children and adults.
When we exclude the reality or the internal world of Autistic people then we end up with many myths and inaccurate ideas about Autistic children and adults.
Here we outline some of the problems we come across with autism courses for teachers which have been designed without Autistic input:
The deficit or medical model of autism says that Autistic people have deficits in communication. This has been disproven by anecdotal evidence from the Autistic Community and through formal research which shows that Autistics actually have a social communication that is specific to us. Not defective, not faulty, not wrong, specific to us in the same way that people who are not Autistic have a social communication specific to them. Our training will equip you to enhance communication between you and your pupil and with peers.
If autism training for SNA’s suggests that Autistic children need to be taught how to interact, communicate and play then it is actually going against the wishes and needs of Autistic people. These suggestions, approaches and methodologies are actually harmful to the Autistic sense of self and should be avoided. The idea that Autistic children and young adults somehow lack social skills is inaccurate, unfounded and oppressive. Social Skills Training can actually encourage Autistic children, teens and adults to mask. Masking is a concept that is often left out of autism training which is not led by Autistics. Autism Training can often fail to address the issues which actually face the Autistic Community.
AUsome autism training for SNA’s will address the issues as outlined above and dispel the myths about Autistic people. We are just a variation in the wonderful fabric of humanity. Our training starts by seeing Autistic pupils as capable, equal and sensitive learners. If autism training starts by seeing us as deficient then anything which stems from that cannot be beneficial to Autistic pupils. Our training starts at the same point that is usually afforded pupils who are not Autistic.