The charity Ambitious about Autism have released startling figures about children with autism. Their statistics show that ‘exclusions of children with autism have increased by 60 per cent over the past five years – rising to nearly 4,500 pupils being excluded in one year,’ as reported by Tes.
With tight financial budgets and the omnipresent concern about Ofsted inspections and the resulting outcomes, there are concerns that pupils with autism are sometimes too easily excluded from mainstream settings.
So, what can be done to support these pupils in school? Maria Chambers is Director of Education at Ambitious about Autism and her article in Tes identifies a series of support mechanisms that are synonymous with the Evolve Health Mentor role.
One of the considerations is that ‘every child with autism is different and has different needs, so you will need to treat each one as an individual and find out what they need.’
Teachers will always try their best to shape their lessons towards the needs of their pupils, whether high ability or low ability, visual learners or auditory learners. Yet, in the current school climate, finding the time to work with particular individuals and discover what can sometimes be challenging and complex needs is not an easy task. This is where a Health Mentor can unpeel those layers through structured classroom support and mentoring interventions. Maria Chambers explains, ‘working together right from the start is the best way to implement successful adjustments that will enable the pupil to flourish.’
Managing change and providing structure is also a crucial aspect of supporting children with autism. The article suggests, ‘children with autism often find unstructured times of the day – such as lunch and breaks – very stressful as they don’t know what is expected of them.’
It is during these periods that providing support is critical to a successful day. Health Mentors deliver lunchtime animation to keep children active and cut down behaviour incidents during the most challenging part of the school day for such situations. Through structured activities, often supported by pupil Play Leaders, Health Mentors ensure that all children have access to inspiring physical games, whilst pupils with autism can benefit from the additional organisation.
To find out more information regarding the support Evolve offer through the Project HE:RO programme, contact Josh Cronin on firstname.lastname@example.org.