My career in SEN started when as a Newly Qualified Teacher I was sent to do supply work at a Special Needs school in South London. I remember my first year very vividly, I used to panic every day on my way to school but the more I struggled the more interested I became in understanding and learning how to work with autistic children. I realised very quickly that I needed specialist training in order to support my students access the curriculum and develop communication, understanding and independence skills. During my time working as a SEN teacher I became Art, Maths and Outreach Coordinator. I then moved on to working as an Autism Specialist Outreach Teacher and Autism Consultant for schools and families, providing advice and specific strategies to SENCos, teachers, parents and TAs on how to support autistic pupils access the curriculum, assess their progress and manage their personal needs through direct intervention, planning and modelling sessions for school staff and parents. I produced reports for the school and Local Authority and attended annual review meetings. I have also organised and delivered autism tailor-made training sessions for school inset days and twilights and peer awareness assemblies.
Although I have worked with pupils with different genetic and developmental conditions, my area of specialism is Autism. This condition affects individuals in so many different ways that I felt I needed a wide range of different interventions that could be adapted and combined according to individual needs, some of these strategies include: SCERTS, TEACCH, Intensive Interaction, Talking Mats, PECS, Makaton Signing, Social Stories, Interactive Storytelling and Film-making projects especially designed for autistic students. I always try to work in an imaginative way developing creative projects whenever possible and I continue to attend seminars, conferences and courses as often as I can to keep a fresh approach and be up to date with the latest studies and interventions.
Ten years down the line, I still feel the same fascination and excitement about working with children with autism, their families and professionals.