Monica shares her experience on 'The Autism Racetrack'

Image: Monica at school

“If you imagine a scary and frightening experience like a race with loads of obstacles, with blocks and bricks to block your way, then imagine a person wearing a blindfold. Running across the track is very hard and when you wear a blindfold you keep bouncing across the obstacles, you need to feel your way and push yourself over them.”

This is how Monica feels each day.

She is a lover of Stephen Fry, periodic tables and her pet yabby Eric. All of these are also tools that help her to manage stressful triggers that arise in her day to day life.

When she uses these she “knows how to deal with things, it’s like I have taken the blindfold half off. I can see the obstacles in front of me and I can see the track but still only half the track.”

Each student with Autism Spectrum Disorder is unique and will have different needs and interests. Research shows that when teachers and schools connect, engage and actively include parents/carers and families in the discussions about their child, they are able to better adapt tasks to suit a student’s personal interests, abilities and preferences.

For many teachers and schools looking for strategies to support students with autism, identifying the right approach can be an iterative process.

In a recent review of interventions for students with autism (Strnadová et al., 2020) a number of evidence-based teaching strategies were identified support teachers in the classroom. These strategies involved:

  • Providing structured, systematic instruction, such as breaking skills down into smaller teachable components
  • Providing prompts for new behaviours using visual supports, modelling, scripts, social stories, and computer-assisted technology
  • Reinforcing the occurrence of new or pro-social behaviour
  • Using augmentative and alternative communication

How these strategies can make an impact

Monica attends Abbotsford Public School. This school is focused on being an inclusive school.

Monica’s family have told us that the school has helped to educate not only Monica’s class, but the whole school community on the importance of inclusion within the classroom.

They have put together strategies, instructions and ways to support Monica to reach her full potential in the mainstream classroom.

Monica hasn’t missed a day of school since attending Abbotsford and her classroom is a place where she feels welcomed and included.

“When I moved to ‘Abbotsford Public School, I felt like a weight had been lifted off me and I felt fresh and happy. At Abbotsford I fell included and understood by everyone I know” - Monica

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