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How Would You Feel If Your Child's 1:1 Support Was Autistic


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#1 HappyFlapping

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Posted 23 January 2016 - 10:59 AM

I've been working with a child for a few years and he has made excellent progress, his parents are really happy with how things are going. And I've recently been diagnosed with autism. I'm unsure if this means I'm not really (and have never) been suitable for the job.
I can see positives to it. It means I can understand him on a level other staff can't. When he tells me the colours/smells are "too loud" I completely get it. When he says his clothes are itchy I understand they're probably hurting him and he'll be able to concentrate on his work better if I let him shuffle his clothes for a while to get comfy then continue his work. I know that far from distracting him, rolling bluetack in his fingers is keeping him grounded and might actually be the only thing allowing him to listen. I understand why he gets frustrated in group work because all the noise of all the groups blurs into one roar and it's impossible to pick out one voice because it's happening to me too! But then I thought about how rolling bluetack is not considered 'normal' and how while he's young it's ok but when he's 17 it might look odd. I would never ever attempt to take away his bluetack. Because I understand. But should I take it? Would a neurotypical 1:1 take it? I'm now totally confused over little things like that where I wouldn't question comment or interfere because I comply understand but other people won't and maybe if his 1:1 wasnt autistic they'd do something different. That's the crux of it. I'm worried my behavior with him is due to my autism and a neurotypical 1:1 would do things differently. Better? While I've never believed my job is to make him 'pass' as neurotypical it would obviously be easier for him if he could. I speak from experience there!

I have considered talking to the school about it but there are some horror stories of people who have made their workplace aware. It's a great school and you'd hope a school would be autism positive towards its staff as well as its children. But you never know and I don't want to risk it. He's a lovely little boy, we have a fantastic relationship and I genuinely care about him. You can't work 1:1 with a child for 4 years and not genuinely care, if you can you're in the wrong job! I just want what's best for him even if that isn't me.

#2 Eggman

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Posted 23 January 2016 - 11:22 AM

Please don't doubt yourself. You are still the same person you were before the diagnosis. You wouldn't believe the amount of times in the past that I wished my son's support would have 'got it' as you say.

 

Sounds like you are doing an amazing job helping this boy.

 

You will know better than anyone else how to guide this child and as for the bluetak probably an nt support worker may have removed it or try to discourage it's use but that would be because of complete and utter ignorance on their part.

 

Believe me neurotypical's don't do things better!


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#3 imperfect parent

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Posted 23 January 2016 - 12:32 PM

I've been working with a child for a few years and he has made excellent progress, his parents are really happy with how things are going.

 

This means you're doing a great job.

 

And I've recently been diagnosed with autism. I'm unsure if this means I'm not really (and have never) been suitable for the job.

I can see positives to it. It means I can understand him on a level other staff can't. When he tells me the colours/smells are "too loud" I completely get it. When he says his clothes are itchy I understand they're probably hurting him and he'll be able to concentrate on his work better if I let him shuffle his clothes for a while to get comfy then continue his work. I know that far from distracting him, rolling bluetack in his fingers is keeping him grounded and might actually be the only thing allowing him to listen. I understand why he gets frustrated in group work because all the noise of all the groups blurs into one roar and it's impossible to pick out one voice because it's happening to me too!

It's great to have support workers who understand the person they are supporting, it's what all parents hope for, but so few get.

 

 

But then I thought about how rolling bluetack is not considered 'normal' and how while he's young it's ok but when he's 17 it might look odd. I would never ever attempt to take away his bluetack. Because I understand. But should I take it? Would a neurotypical 1:1 take it? I'm now totally confused over little things like that where I wouldn't question comment or interfere because I comply understand but other people won't and maybe if his 1:1 wasnt autistic they'd do something different. That's the crux of it. I'm worried my behavior with him is due to my autism and a neurotypical 1:1 would do things differently. Better? While I've never believed my job is to make him 'pass' as neurotypical it would obviously be easier for him if he could. I speak from experience there!

 

Give the support that works.  Don't even think what a NT would do, continue to think what does he need to achieve?

 

 

I have considered talking to the school about it but there are some horror stories of people who have made their workplace aware. It's a great school and you'd hope a school would be autism positive towards its staff as well as its children. But you never know and I don't want to risk it. He's a lovely little boy, we have a fantastic relationship and I genuinely care about him. You can't work 1:1 with a child for 4 years and not genuinely care, if you can you're in the wrong job! I just want what's best for him even if that isn't me.

Go with your instincts.

 

It sounds to me as though you are doing a great job.  There will come a time when things are unacceptable to others, and then you need to consider a more acceptable alternative. I have an 18 year old son who still holds my hand in new places, but he no longer tries to sit on my lap in meetings though if I am honest I think he would still like  to. Hand holding and Blue tack are much less noticeable than many preferences.  TBH it's not about stopping any behaviours, more about introducing more acceptable ones as an option, and rewarding if that option is taken.

 

I often quote  Lorna Wing on not judging the parent on what they do, but look to the child to see why they do it.  The same applies to support.  It's a huge skill to enable a child, and one that sadly goes missing in later teenage years when so many have an expectation that the young person needs to be exposed to learn to cope alone.

 

Have faith in yourself, and be open to considering other views, but please don't doubt yourself.


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#4 Maverick

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Posted 23 January 2016 - 06:57 PM

I would be delighted if you were working with my son and I agree with everything said above by the others.

You are doing a brilliant job so don't doubt yourself.... trust and believe in what u are doing because that child is proof you are doing great.

Xxx

#5 apricot

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Posted 25 January 2016 - 10:51 AM

DS (15)  favourite TA is a young Asperger male, as they can just talk science/computer games/weird geeky stuff and neither of them have to bother with social chit-chat. I think it's great that DS can see an ASD person holding down a job. 
As for blu-tack, DS parted from his beloved blu-tak aged around 12. His decision. His current fiddly is a comb.






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