By Jeannie Christina, Lead Learning Assessment & Support Co-ordinator
(Autism Awareness Week runs from 29 March - 4 April 2021)
In a society where we embrace difference, it is vital that as a college we look to develop students’ potential whilst embracing and nurturing people’s differences. As part of celebrating Autism Awareness Week, I would like to share my thoughts on how, as a College, we can embrace and proactively help make positive change. It is essential that our students feel connected, supported, included and enable people to understand that “anything is possible”, regardless of their difference and specific need, they have something positive to contribute to society.
South and City College has an excellent support mechanism in place to enable learners with autism to feel that they belong to the college community. Differences should not dictate a student’s future or the ability to progress and achieve their goals and aspirations. From the first initial contact with learners, the college lays out a road to success – this identifies where the student’s need help, how best to target the student’s strengths, weaknesses and what we can do to make that difficulty their superpower.
As part of the Student Services team, we track and monitor every stage of the learner journey through identifying where support is most needed, making the correct referral and give advice and guidance to tutors and families on how their learner experience can be a positive one! This could include writing a support plan, referring them to a mentor, applying for exam arrangements, allocating TA support, helping them to develop useful and meaningful strategies, careers support and emotional support. It is so important that we try to understand barriers and plan in advance to support that individual’s transition that will help them develop independence, confidence, social skills, and employability skills that will prepare them for adulthood.
Remembering that autism does not define who they are: the positive experiences, support, connections and relationships will define their future. Remember to be kind & Inspire them to know their worth and to accept and realise that they all have potential to succeed.
A – Awesome
U – Unique
T – Talented
I – Incredibly
S – Special
M – Myself