Article in Educational Review

In this journal article, drawn from in-depth interviews with 21 autistic teachers, we explore the issues faced by autistic school staff in a range of roles in schools, particularly in light of the impact of Covid-19 on working practices.

For example, autistic school staff can experience significant sensory issues in the school environment, and so home-working was largely beneficial from this point of view, as were smaller class sizes, with children placed in ‘bubbles’. However, other changes had a more mixed response, such as the increased use of technology, which was both disliked and valued by our participants. Crucially, Covid-19 related adaptations enabled a more nuanced understanding of the concept of ‘change’ in relation to autistic school staff, demonstrating the factors that influenced whether dealing with change was experienced as stressful, manageable or even enjoyed.

This article is free to download.

Article in Disability & Society

Our journal article drawn from our Phase 1 findings has been published in Disability & Society. It is free to download. In the article, we explore the following themes:

1. Lack of understanding and support;

2. Poor treatment of autistic pupils;

3. Environment;

4. Mental health issues;

5. Problems with revealing autism diagnosis;

6. Positive experiences of revealing diagnosis;

7. Facilitating inclusion.

Covid-19 Summary report

We have produced a summary report of our findings in relation to Covid-19 drawn from our 33 interview participants. Our participants reflect on the changes to their work practices resulting from the pandemic, the impact on the children they teach, and the broader lessons that can be learned post-Covid. The report can be downloaded from HERE.

Leadership Focus magazine

Becky Wood has written a short article in Leadership Focus (p. 38), the magazine of the National Association of Head teachers, in which she describes an imaginary scene of an autistic Head teacher who is listening to a member of staff discussing an autistic pupil in less than complimentary terms. This member of staff is unaware that the Head teacher is autistic. Although this is fictional, our research indicates that this imaginary scenario could easily be true, as some of our participants occupied senior roles in schools, and a number of staff members felt unable to be open about being autistic. Indeed, hearing derogatory comments about autistic pupils merely served to reinforce that fear. (Please note that the author was unaware that puzzle piece imagery would be used in the article).

Phase 1 summary report

A free access summary report from Phase 1 of the project can be downloaded here. This sets out the basic characteristics of the participants and provides some comparisons between those who were working in a school at the time of completing the survey (about two thirds of the participants) and those who were no longer doing so. This report also lists some of the emerging themes from the study, which have since been explored in greater depth.

Article in Share magazine

There is an interview with Rebecca about the co-edited book ‘Learning from Autistic Teachers: How to be a Neurodiversity-Inclusive School’ in Scottish Autism’s Share magazine. She describes the ideas behind the book and how it was developed.