Autism support milestone sees efforts of Leeds workers recognised

Alex Gibbs, an expert reference group member of the Autism Education Trust, speaking at the event at the Houses of Parliament.
Alex Gibbs, an expert reference group member of the Autism Education Trust, speaking at the event at the Houses of Parliament.
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Leeds health workers trained in supporting children on the autism spectrum in schools have been invited to the Houses of Parliament.

Speech and language therapist Laura Thundercliffe, who works at Boston Spa-based The Talking House, and STARS outreach worker Helen Teasdale were among those invited to an event hosted by the Autism Education Trust (AET) last week.

The event, which marked the training of more than 100,000 professionals, followed a Government announcement that every new teacher in England will learn about the needs of autistic children as part of their teacher training from September 2018.

Autism can affect how people interact and interpret behaviour.

The AET’s schools, early years and post 16 training programmes are supported by the Department for Education.

Dr Steve Huggett, AET director, said: “Autism affects each person differently – some children are able to able to excel in mainstream schools while others require extensive support in mainstream or more specialist settings.

“But all children on the autism spectrum need teachers and support staff who understand them.”

More than one in every 100 children are on the autism spectrum, including around 120,000 school-aged children in England – of those more than 70 per cent go to mainstream schools.

Miss Thundercliffe added: “It’s so important for teachers to understand the sensory needs of a child with autism, why visual symbols and prompts are helpful, how to communicate effectively, how to change the language they use and how to differentiate work in a way that will engage and motivate them.

“Walking through schools and seeing these things starting to happen means that the AET and professionals who have under taken their training are changing the lives of children with autism, and it’s great to be a part of that.”

For further information visit autismeducationtrust.org.uk.

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