Starting autism act as a brand new business in January 2020 after the trauma of losing my local authority autism specialist teacher role, was a huge step for me. A SEN department redesign and the redundancy that followed ended 25 years as a local authority employee, teacher, SENCO, Inclusion leader, Assistant Head and specialist teacher. Then as autism act began to build momentum, another obstacle came into view that put the world to a halt, not just my business.
Covid-19 – another massive wall for autism act to climb. And one that is super high, with spikes concreted on the top! Oh, and no ropes to help me up, or safety net to catch me if I fall ….. Despite all of this, one thing I was determined about; autism act would STILL be delivering a service although not the one I planned. It was hard not to feel despair working through my diary to postpone all the consultancy and training I had booked. Hard not to lose confidence in myself, as now I was a sole trader with no local authority to back me up and all the work I was postponing I had booked … solely ME, MY hard work.
When turning to family and friends for advice, one said to me ‘Relax, let if flow from your head and your heart’.
Funny advice really, as I was now a ‘business woman’ I felt everything had to have a strategy behind it. But old habits die hard, the 25 years in mainstream primary education has definitely taught me to ‘Carry on like it’s on the lesson plan’. Turn on a sixpence what you had originally planned and make something from it, regardless!
So, Covid19 WILL NOT stop me from delivering a service I am passionate about in my head and in my heart.
From the head:
autism act is still available for advice, consultancy and training. It looks a bit different at the moment and has to be delivered differently but the essential knowledge I can raise in you is still available. Much of the general advice comes free via the facebook page, which has become really successful. 608 followers is a lot of people and when I envisage you all together in a hall looking at me, it’s also a responsibility to still be delivering a service.
Lockdown due to Covid-19 has given me a wider audience, I mean I never would have envisaged I’d be emailing advice to Mauritius because of a facebook page! You don’t need to live in Essex or surrounding area to take advantage of what autism act has to offer.
Consultations and training are now available via zoom, skype, messenger, whats app. These can be bespoke to your needs and your timings, delivered to what YOU need. Training slots can be booked and cover a range of topics such as (but not restricted to):
- Anxiety and emotional regulation
- The zones of regulation as a strategy to support emotional regulation#
- Supporting early communication
- Supporting joint attention skills
- Supporting autistic girls
- Developing visual supports
- Supporting information processing through visual supports and stories
- Understanding and supporting developmental levels
These can be delivered just to you, or as a family group around your own child, or as a team in a school or pre-school, organisation around a child you are supporting. The service really is that versatile.
One module I am particularly passionate about delivering to as many people as possible is understanding the Key Areas of autistic difference. This has come from my own dissertation and my M Ed degree. The Warnock Report of 1978, concluded as part of it’s findings that teachers felt unprepared to teach children with SEN. Has much changed in 40 years? From my own experience as a teacher and beyond, there is still a lack of training for teachers, around SEN in general and specifically autism. I am passionate about helping to change this which has inspired me to keep delivering a service of advice, consultancy and training.
The National Autistic Society states 58% of autistic young people say a teacher who understood them would have made school a better place to be.
Mark Lever, Chief Executive of the National Autistic Society states ‘teachers deserve the right training and children deserve a teacher who understands them’.
And from the heart:
I have been very fortunate in my career to see first hand the difference the right consultation and training can make. I have seen the impact it can have on parents, staff and ultimately the children. I think my long and varied career in mainstream education gives me an affinity with teachers, I know what it is like to be trying to deliver the very best you can for the children in your class and not feel supported with specialist knowledge that you actually need.
From my heart, I am trying to change this, even if it is one person at a time and I realise the magnitude of this challenge. If I reach one person, I have changed the outcomes for the child they are teaching, and all the other children they will teach. That is very powerful.
From the heart, Covid-19 will not stop autism act from delivering a service.