I spent the afternoon working with a mainstream school that also has a residential provision. 50% of the students are on the autism spectrum.
The first hour was spent with the Head of Care looking around the residential setting, making comments about how to improve autism-friendliness. This included a visual staff board so that the students knew who would be on duty that day and making and using visual schedules.
In the next hour I met the brilliant and enthusiastic care staff team. We talked about individual students and how the team may be able to help them through moments of crises. The team were really receptive and knew a lot more about ASC than they thought and came up with brilliant ideas!
Finally it was time to meet the girls. Twelve students aged between 12 and 15 had wanted to join a group to talk about ASC. We explored ASC as a general topic and the girls asked lots of questions about autism. We read the book "All Cats have Asperger Syndrome", which gave the girls the opportunity to realise that they shared many difficulties and advantages with their peers. In the end we decided that our next group, in the half term after Easter, should focus on anxiety.
I really enjoyed my afternoon. The staff were receptive and enthusiastic, the students insightful and open about talking to, essentially a stranger. I loved the unique special interests the girls had, ranging from Digimon and Horror movies to international house-prices. I honestly can't wait to go back next month to check in with the team and see the girls again!!