The Autistic School Staff Project team has been commissioned by Jessica Kingsley Publishers to produce an edited book: Learning from Autistic Teachers: How to be a Neurodiversity-Inclusive School. 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 April 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 Ponnudurai, 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 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;
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.
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.