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Through the spectrum

Written by Christopher Byers

“Raising awareness of Autism and the role a SENCO has in supporting children with additional needs”.

Autism is a neurological condition that affects an individual’s communication, social interaction, and behavior. It is a lifelong condition that typically manifests in early childhood, and while there is no cure, early intervention, and support can help individuals with autism live fulfilling lives. Unfortunately, autism awareness is still lacking in many communities, which can lead to misunderstandings and difficulties for those living with the condition.

“What are the aims of this?”.

One of the primary goals of Autism Awareness is to educate the public about what autism is and how it affects individuals. Many people who are not familiar with autism may assume that individuals with the condition are simply “awkward” or “quirky,” and may not understand the full extent of the challenges that people with autism face. By increasing public knowledge about autism, we can help to reduce stigma and promote acceptance.

Another important aspect of autism awareness is advocating for the needs and rights of individuals with autism. Many people with autism require specific accommodations in order to live and work comfortably, such as access to sensory-friendly environments or specialized communication tools. By raising awareness about these needs, we can help to ensure that individuals with autism are able to receive the support that they need to thrive.

In addition, Autism Awareness can help to promote early intervention and diagnosis for individuals with autism. The earlier that autism is identified, the easier it is to support the child throughout their childhood into adulthood.

“How are children with additional needs supported?”

A Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) is a highly skilled professional who works to ensure that children with special educational needs receive the support they need to succeed in their academic and social lives. SENCOs work in schools and other educational settings, and their role is to identify children’s needs, assess the level of support required, and work with teachers and other professionals to develop and implement effective strategies for meeting those needs.

The work of a SENCO can be highly varied and will depend on the specific needs of the children in their care. Some SENCOs work with children who have physical disabilities, while others work with children who have learning difficulties, behavioral issues, or mental health problems. Regardless of the specific area of need, the SENCO’s role is to ensure that each child receives the appropriate level of support and guidance to help them achieve their full potential.

One of the key tasks of a SENCO is to identify children’s needs. This involves working closely with teachers, parents, and other professionals to assess each child’s strengths and weaknesses, and to identify any barriers to their learning. Once the needs of each child have been identified, the SENCO can work with teachers and other professionals to develop a tailored support plan for each child.

The support plan will typically involve Aims, goals, and targets set in collaboration with a parent, key person and/or external professionals, such as an occupational therapist. The plan will be adjusted as targets are met, supporting the child through their educational journey.

“What should staff do if they have any concerns about a child?”

If staff at Willows have any concerns about a child’s special educational needs (SEN), they should approach myself (the SENCO lead) in a respectful and supportive manner. We can then make the first step and arrange a meeting, where staff can discuss their concerns and provide any relevant information. The SENCO lead will then work with the staff to gather further information about the child’s needs and develop a plan to support them. It is important to maintain open communication with the SENCO lead throughout the process and to ensure that the child’s parents or carers are involved in any decisions made. By working together, the staff and SENCO lead can provide appropriate support and ensure that the child’s needs are met. 

To train as a SENCO, I have attended multiple training courses as well as studying outside of Willows on a course about raising awareness of Autism. I also attend regular termly SENCO meetings in Merton to discuss new strategies and policies that affect my role as Willows Colliers Wood SENCO.

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