Durham University’s Centre for Neurodiversity and Development has launched a new online training platform; Triple-A aims to help teachers better understand the challenges faced by autistic and neurodivergent pupils.
The name is derived from the three main issues that these pupils experience in the classroom: attention difficulties, arousal difficulties (sensory processing) and heightened anxiety. Autistic people, teachers, educational psychologists and parents of autistic children contributed to the development process.
Triple-A provides practical suggestions for education providers including how to develop a “sensory cool box” for pupils, guidance on how to organise classrooms and tips on how to create emotional well-being action plans for pupils.
According to the project all of the strategies “are suitable for a range of different children and young people”.
Dr Mary Hanely, who works in Durham’s Centre for Neurodiversity and Development, celebrated the project. “Our research shows that these ‘Triple-A’ issues have a real impact on how autistic and neurodivergent children and young people can engage and achieve in education settings.
“It also really shows how aspects of the school environment present particular challenges for autistic and neurodivergent children and young people.
“To take these findings and translate them into a free, practical training tool for education professionals is, we hope, a great step forward in understanding and supporting the needs of these children and young people at a classroom level.”
Councillor Ted Henderson, Durham County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services was keen to emphasise the positive impact Triple-A could have: “Education is so important to a child’s development but there are additional challenges for young people with autism and other neurodevelopmental conditions, which can lead to difficulties with learning at school.
“We are delighted to have been able to combine our expertise in this area with that of Durham University to come up with this training which will help staff in schools and other education settings to support such children and assist them in overcoming any challenges they face.
“In doing so the training will help these young people perform to the best of their abilities and we very much hope that this product of County Durham will ultimately benefit children much further afield.”
The project received funding through Research England’s Strategic Priority Funding and Economic and Social Research Council Impact Accelerator Funding. It was also supported by charities, including the North East Autism Society.
Christine Dempster, Director of Education at the North East Autism Society, highlighted the positive impact that The Triple-A project could have: “All too often the support that children receive depends on where they live rather than their needs.
“Triple-A is ideal as it can be used in a wide range of educational settings to help remove barriers to learning, increase engagement, and enable pupils to get the most out of their education.
“We intend to introduce it within all our education services.”
Image: Durham University