For teenagers, navigating the complex world of social friendships is never easy. Neither a child nor an adult, it can be hard to know what to do. For teenagers with autism, those problems are exemplified. For many it’s a time of increased awareness of being different and a surge in anxiety. Not knowing where to sit or who to sit with when they walk through a door can be a huge issue.
Many of my students are particular about where they sit in the room. For some it’s important they sit near to the door, in case things get too much and they need some time out. Others like to sit near the teacher in case their member of support staff is absent, whilst I have others who are very sensitive to drafts so can’t be near the window. Some of my students like to bang the desk when they’re frustrated, whilst others hate loud noises. As you can imagine, my seating plan takes some time to compile! In fact, arranging where people need to sit in my room can be a bit like organising the seating plan at a wedding.
When students go into mainstream lessons, where they are seated can make or break how successful they are. So if you have a student with Autism in you class next year please try to give a thought to the following considerations:
- Please sit the student with peers who you feel will be supportive.
- Please don’t isolate the student by sitting them alone with a member of support staff.
- Consider sitting the student near the door, students with autism may arrive to lessons a couple of minutes later than others to avoid the crowds on the corridor, it can be very overwhelming to walk through a seated class.
- Talk to the inclusion team and/ or the student’s LSA to see if there are any particular considerations you need to take into account when seating this student.
- Please give the student warning if you intend to change your room around, it can be very stressful for students to arrive and see desks in different places, and/ or see that they are going to have to sit in a different places than they expect.
This is differentiation we can all do, yet differentiation that will make a huge difference to the anxiety levels, and therefore ability to learn of students. Let’s make this the year our students are successful, let’s make sure our students are ready to learn…