30 things autistic people would like their teachers to know

My diagnosis

1. Don’t assume I’m like every other autistic child. We have individual profiles and no two autistic people are the same

2. Don’t dismiss my diagnosis or tell me that I don’t look autistic – there is actually no ‘look’

Pastoral Support

3. Check that I’m ok in private – I’m unlikely to come to you for help and will not open up in front of other people

4. Listen to me and take my worries seriously. Autistic people are very honest & direct.

5. If my parents say I’m finding something hard, please listen to them. I may feel under immense pressure to keep up with others. Because of masking you may not see the ‘real me’

6. Please acknowledge me. I can hear, but may not be able to respond though that doesn’t mean I don’t exist.

7. Girls often smile, but this doesn’t mean I’m ok – I may be masking ( trying hard to not stand out)

8. Understand that I may have co-morbid conditions to contend with

9. Don’t take adjustments away just because I’m coping better. I’m coping because of the adjustments.

In the Classroom

10. Allow me to attend online learning off camera

11. Sometimes I prefer to work by myself, rather than in a group. Please let me and don’t force me to do group work.

12. Check my body language to assess how I’m really feeling – I won’t express myself verbally

13. Understand that I need to ‘stim’ in order to self-regulate and focus. This doesn’t mean I’m not paying attention or being rude.

14. Allow me to wear headphones or ear plugs- I have sensory sensitivities that make some sounds unbearable and overwhelming

15. Please help me to understand instructions by bullet pointing them and writing them down

16. Allow me to go into school/ class 5 minutes earlier than others OR later depending on preference so I can avoid the crowds

17. Allow me to stand at the front or back of queues

18. Allow me to use fidget toys- they help me concentrate and self- sooth

19. Pre-warn me of any changes to rooms/ teachers/ lesson change

20. Please understand that my behaviours are part of my diagnosis, this will include me speaking my mind. I am not trying to be rude

21. Make reasonable adjustments to lessen my anxiety- for example, don’t make me present in front of the class

22. Help me feel more comfortable working in groups by placing me with somebody I know

23. Allow me to have sensory breaks- I may not know I’m becoming overwhelmed, but encourage me to have them

24. Don’t pick on me in front of my peers

Breaks & Lunchtimes

25. Agree a quiet and safe place, where I can go to if needed

26. Don’t assume I’m ok socially just because I’m stood with a group of friends. I’m trying to mimic them so I don’t stand out (masking)

27. Please allow me to sit separately to eat my lunch

28. Please allow me to retreat somewhere quiet at breaktime

29. Please don’t force me to socialise every breaktime

30. Please don’t force me to hang out with people I don’t want to hang out with- this makes me anxious

Finally…

Thank you for taking the time to read and understand. These adjustments can help autistic children and young people feel less anxious about being in school and could minimise the likelihood of them being unable to attend school. If in doubt, ask those who know… Children and young people.

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