In a separate video by Our Stories about Ryan, he looks back on his Year 11. He said, “When you hear loud noises, it’s difficult to block it out and just ignore it”. He said to his old headteacher, “I think you and everyone else has given me the confidence I need just to press forward, move on – that sort of thing”. I think BeyondAutism has given me the confidence I need. During my internship at BeyondAutism, I have grown in confidence creating content, mingling with managers and colleagues and much more.
How to support at school
I think schools can cater for neurodivergent students in a variety of ways. Firstly, classrooms can be comfortable. The clutter can be cleared because less mess means less stress. Rocking chairs can be provided for stimming students with a habit of rocking back and forth to keep calm. Beanbag chairs are a suitable seating substitute. Minimising auditory and visual distractions avoids sensory overload. Some students at BeyondAutism wear noise cancelling headphones. This enables them to focus on the task at hand to the fullest extent.
Other ways to cater include class discussions to develop social skills, alternative communication methods (such as Proloquo2Go), breaks between tasks for mental refuel, visual timers for time management, images for visual learners, voice recording devices, additional processing time and theoretical concepts directed towards special interests.
In conclusion, neurodivergent students have a lot to offer. I believe that we should be benevolent, beat stereotypes and create environments where they blossom with a bottom-up approach. I challenge you to bite the bullet and improve the lives of autistic people.