Today we ran our first training presentation for teachers and families and the topic was ‘What is autism?’ We covered areas including the characteristics and history of autism, how to get a diagnosis, and how intervention programmes can help children with autism learn skills and contribute to their societies.
When we spoke about common myths in relation to causes and ‘cures’ there were some parents who believed that autism was caused by watching television, and that it was their fault that their child has autism. It was great to be able to clear up misconceptions in this area and reassure families that they have not caused their child to have autism.
(Explaining the autism spectrum to parents and teachers at today’s training lecture)
Part of today’s training involved an activity to illustrate how it may feel to have difficulties communicating or being understood. This is something that many children with autism have in common. The parents and teachers split into pairs and the ‘speaker’ in each pair was given a card with a message that they had to convey to their partner without speaking or writing. We had messages such as ‘Today I dropped my children at school, went home and cooked, and then went to sleep’, ‘I have been living in Mersin for six months and three days’ and ‘My children like to swim in the sea’. Everyone enjoyed this activity and reflected that as well as helping them to understand some of the difficulties experiences by people with autism. They also shared that it reminded them of trying to communicate within Turkey after arriving to live here without speaking the local language.
The teachers and parents were very interested in today’s training and asked many great questions throughout. We are excited that they are so keen to learn and are looking forward to sharing more with them next week.