Change a life on World Autism Awareness Day

Posted on Monday 31st March 2014

Today one in every 100 children is on the autism spectrum. For a child with autism something as simple as communicating with others can be a problem. If they do not have the understanding to communicate what they need; what can we do to help them?

Children’s and families’ lives are improved every day as a result of autism research at Birmingham, and this World Autism Awareness Day (Tuesday 2 April), you can help us give every child the best possible start in life by supporting  our ground-breaking research in real world settings such as schools and children’s homes.

Lizi Snushall, a teacher at Uffculme School in Birmingham, told us more about collaborative work between the School and researchers from the University’s Autism Centre for Education and Research (ACER).

’A researcher from ACER has been working with me, and my classroom staff to develop our approaches to the way we interact with children. We have been using principles that are proven to improve the ability of children with autism to communicate and interact socially.

‘We felt extremely positive from the start of the process as the researcher didn’t come in and say‘this is the research, this is what you have to do’ she worked very closely with us to point out good practice and develop the programme in close collaboration with the school and children.

‘In sessions with one child recently I used an approach that the researcher and I had been working on that involved waiting for the child to initiate interaction when requiring help. Using this approach he initiated communication with me for the first time, giving him a far greater opportunity to communicate in the future.

‘The benefit of working with a researcher is that they have the time and the ability to look at things in more detail. The reports and videos produced have allowed us to really see that small changes in our approach to communication, such as simply giving longer pauses  to allow the child more time to respond, can have a real benefit and impact on a child with autism and their interactions with the world around them.

‘We are still using the techniques and language in our classes. It was an incredibly empowering and positive process; we learnt an awful lot about changing our behaviour to develop better communication with the children.

‘We worked very closely with the University and were able to really collaborate on the research.It was one of the best things I’ve ever done in my classroom, and it has had a real impact on the children.’ 

We firmly believe in making a difference to children’s lives as well as their families and teachers but we need your help to achieve this. You can do this be making a gift, and finding out how you can raise money for our research.