Spotlight on Autism


Jill Baldry is the North Coast region's autism coach. In 2018, we spoke with Jill to find out her top tips for supporting students with autism.

Jill has always approached her teaching through the question, How does this work for the individual with autism? She believes that the autistic view of the world is one that educators need to try to understand and learn as much as they can about autism, through the world of the person with autism.

'Only then can we truly appreciate the challenges and the strengths that are unique for each individual with autism,' said Jill. 

Read Jill's top tips for supporting students with autism below.

1. Know your learners 

Take the time to get to know the young people with autism, listen to them talk about their interests, observe where their strengths lie and leverage these. Understand the challenges they face at school and support them to meet these challenges.

2. Build partnerships with parents 

Parents are the keepers of the knowledge that you need to grasp to understand each young person. If you can develop positive relationships with parents built on open communication, trust and respect then they will be supportive, understanding and appreciative.

3. Build knowledge and skills 

Let your knowledge and skills in the area of autism inform your planning and practice. Put the knowledge and skills learned into practice in your classroom and then reflect on how that works for your students with autism.

4. Find your tribe 

Establish a network of colleagues who will not only listen to you mindfully but those who will challenge you to be the best teacher you can be.

5. Be curious 

Be curious about what is going on in that moment in time. What is happening for that person? What are you feeling?

6. Be calm and supportive

Approach situations with care, this includes:

  • talking calmly and quietly
  • being supportive of the student's needs
  • giving them time.

7. Pause before taking action 

This can be difficult to do sometimes when students may be in a heightened state. When they are calm, sit with them and work out a plan for what to do next time and practice the plan. Then ensure everyone else knows the plan. Reflection is where we learn, so reflect on your practice and seek out colleagues who will support you, mentor you and coach you through that reflective practice.

Visit Autism Hub and Reading Centre to access a range of services to improve educational outcomes for students with autism in Queensland.

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Last updated 14 November 2019