The Autistic School Staff Project team has been commissioned by Jessica Kingsley Publishers to produce an edited book with the working title of ‘Narratives and Perspectives of Autistic Teachers: Facilitating Diversity and Inclusion in Schools.’ The book contains chapters by autistic school staff who work or have worked in schools in a range of roles, and covers diverse topics such as intersectionality, strong interests, teacher training, issues of revealing diagnosis, race, the strengths of autistic teachers, leadership, mentorship and much more! Susanna Matthan and Sara Peeters are both providing illustrations. The book is due to be published in 2022 so do watch this space for more information! With the exception of the ASSP team members, the chapter authors are as follows:
Mica Coleman-Jones: Head of School
Lucy Coward: English teacher
Elkie Kammer: Learning Support Teacher and author
Claire O’Neill: deputy Principal
Jade Pitchford-Waters: Autism hub co-ordinator and former learning support teacher
Susanna Matthan: artist and former teacher in Pupil Referral Units
Joan McDonald: founder of Posautive and former Special Needs Organiser
Andrew Miller: author and former deputy Head Autism Advisory teacher
Yasmeen Multani: university lecturer and former teacher
Eiman Munro: teacher and EdD student
Kieran Rose: speaker, advocate and campaigner and former teaching assistant
Pete Wharmby: speaker, writer and former English teacher
Madge Woollard: peripatetic music teacher
Further chapters are provided by Ruth Moyse and Rebecca Wood, both former teachers, and Alan Morrison, a current teacher. The Foreword is by Laura Crane and Francesca Happé.
Article in Disability & Society
Our pre-print (see below) has now been published in Disability & Society. This article is drawn from our Phase 1 research findings, and we explore the following themes:
1. Lack of understanding and support;
2. Poor treatment of autistic pupils;
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).
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.
Becky Wood and Francesca Happé have submitted an article to an academic journal entitled ‘Do Autistic Children Need Autistic Teachers? Findings from an Online Survey in the UK.’ The article is currently being reviewed, but a pre-print can be accessed here. (Please note that this version has not yet been peer-reviewed).
Becky Wood did a presentation on Facebook on behalf of the charity Scottish Autism. She covers the key findings from the first phase of the project in an accessible format.