The Difference Between Supporting Students And Normalizing Them (And Why It Matters) with Nicki Day

The Difference Between Supporting Students And Normalizing Them (And Why It Matters) with Nicki Day

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There's a fine line between supporting students with SEMH needs with positive behaviour change and trying to "normalise" them - so they fit into society's idea of how children should think and behave.

In this week's episode, we explore this important topic with Nicki Day, education and parental support advisor (and parent of an autistic child). She explains to provide support in school in the right way, so we help our pupils achieve their potential without impacting negatively on their emotional well-being.

Important links:

National Autistic Society website

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Show notes / transcription

Nicki Day  0:00  

There are lots of positivity is in your diversity. And we're still only looking at the challenging behaviour rather than addressing that, wow, how can we build this up? And what happens in the meantime, is that because we're not putting in early intervention, because we're not putting in that training, we're ending up with a lot of children, young people out of education, who then are entering adulthood who can't access work and are going to be more of a drain on society. Rather than seeing it as we put in the early intervention, I'd say the 75 80% of Sen. D children, young people could be proactive when they reach adulthood and putting a lot into society. And I think we're still approaching it in a very archaic system either, we'll ignore it until it gets too difficult, and then we'll try and fix it.

Simon Currigan  0:36  

Hi there and welcome to another episode of school behaviour secrets. My name is Simon Currigan. Sean Covey hates wasted time. In fact, he once said one of the few things that can't be recycled is wasted time. So if he's listening to this podcast is going to be furious. I'm joined today by my wonderful co host, Emma Shackleton. Hi, Emma.

Emma Shackleton  1:35  

Hi, Simon, go on. What have you got for me today? A question. Really? What a surprise.

Simon Currigan  1:41  

Women are more likely to suffer severe car injuries than men. But by what percentage?

Emma Shackleton  1:47  

Is it around 50%. And the reason I'm thinking is because they're doing the lion's share of ferrying the kids to school and various and numerous sporting activities. Maybe more journeys equals more likelihood of getting into an accident,

Simon Currigan  2:04  

not a bad guess I'm not sure about your reasoning, but the answer is 47% are more likely to have a severe car injury. Okay. Why is that? Well, according to a study into 45,000 crash injuries over 11 years in the US, it turns out that safety features in cars are designed for the male form. So you know, like the height of things like head restraints are more suited to the average height of a male rather than a female stuff like that. So the environment or the car is less suitable for keeping women safe.

Emma Shackleton  2:34  

It's surprising actually, how many things have been designed by men for men. Okay, so how is this related to today's episode?

Simon Currigan  2:42  

So today I interview a Nikki de who is a parent of an autistic child and an educational and parental support advisor. She got in touch with us following an episode we released on using ABA or applied behaviour analysis to support kids with behaviour change to say that she had concerns about how some practitioners were using ABA in terms of autism, particularly their claims that they were able to cure children of autism using ABA. And she wanted to talk about the important difference between supporting kids with their needs, as opposed to trying to normalise them or train them out of their autism.

Emma Shackleton  3:17  

That does sound like a really important conversation to have.

Simon Currigan  3:21  

Yeah, definitely. And just to be clear, she wasn't criticising our guests in the previous episode, who in no way suggested autism could be cured or ABA is a method for doing so. Okay. But

Emma Shackleton  3:31  

before we press play on Simon's interview with Nikki, I'd like to ask for your help. If you listen to this interview and find the insights and discussion valuable, don't keep them to yourself. Please open up your podcast app, click the share button, and send this episode to a couple of your colleagues or even school leaders that you work with, that you think would find it useful. That helps the information and our podcast to spread even further so that we can help more teachers and pupils in school. Actually, the other day, I was speaking to a head teacher who told me that he often shares our podcast with people that he meets on his dog walks. Anyway, without further ado, here's Simon's interview with Nikki de.

Simon Currigan  4:18  

Today, I'm excited to welcome Nikki de to the show. Nikki is a single parent of three sons, one of whom is autistic, and she found herself in the position of having to give up work when he was in primary school due to his frequent meltdowns and fought to get her son assessed for a statement of educational needs and placed in special school. At that time, she was approached for advice from a parent in a mainstream school about getting support for their child, and her journey into being an education and support advisor began. She took a university course in psychology which incorporated modules on autism and now supports parents around provision for pupils with special educational needs in school ehcp applications appeals and and tribunals, as well as training for parents and professionals. Nikki, welcome to the show. Thank you. So Nikki, you got in touch with me following an episode on using ABA or applied behaviour analysis to support kids in school. And you were concerned that we were advocating the use of ABA in schools because some professionals claimed to use it to cure, and I'm putting the word cure in inverted commas here autistic behaviour and kids and you wanted to respond to those issues. Before we get to that. Let's start with some basics from a scientific psychological perspective. Can you tell us a little about what autism actually is?

Nicki Day  5:37  

Thank you, Simon. Well, autism is a neurological condition. So it's really important for people to realise that you're born with this condition, and that the brain is wired differently. It's nothing to do with the environment, or parenting or any of those things. It's the fact that your brain is wired differently. Autism would then tend to because the brain has different effects, certain areas that will affect the difficulties and differences around communication around interaction around how the brain is around sensory issues. And the other areas is the fixed interests, which tends to be when there's someone with autism find something they like, because the world is so crazy around them, they tend to stick to that one thing because it makes them feel in control and safe, rather than they're being controlling. It's just it's something that they know and like very much. And that basically in a nutshell,

Simon Currigan  6:22  

for the people listening, can you give us some concrete examples? You said there are issues around communication? Can you give me some concrete examples of what that might look like in school,

Nicki Day  6:31  

what communication would be difficult with autism, because of the way the brain is, they're very black and white sometimes and how they hear and understand things. So using sarcasm or metaphors or idioms, they could find that very confusing as autistic people something or can find it very hard to read faces, and understand what the facial expressions mean, and what body language means. So they will take the words very literally. So within a school, when you've got a lot of sensory issues going on a lot of noise going on, that ability to communicate when they're struggling because they see and understand things differently, can be very hard for them. So keeping language really short and simple and repetitive with a child or young person at school, gives them that time and their brain to process that information so that they can then respond back and

Simon Currigan  7:14  

that kind of bombardment of having difficulty sort of reading facial expressions and the sensory needs and all those sorts of issues you discussed often that results in a lot of anxiety. Yeah,

Nicki Day 7:24  

I 100%. I mean, autism doesn't come automatically with a diagnosis of anxiety, the anxiety tends to come because they live in a neurotypical environment, which they don't understand. And they find like you said, the word bombarding, especially school where the acoustic levels tend to be really bad. There's pictures and sound things all over the place. And if they're feeling anxious, and a teacher's trying to communicate to them to do some work, but they're still just trying to settle because something might have changed in the classroom that day compared to yesterday. And they're trying to make sense of that, whilst they also been asked to do some schoolwork, and then they get upset because they didn't realise that missed that question. So again, about keeping things really simple, can reduce that bombardment of too much sensory overload, how is

Simon Currigan  8:05  

your child's autism affected their experience of school, and I guess your experience of school too, as a parent,

Nicki Day  8:12  

it's sad, really, because unfortunately, we tend to get diagnosed very late, there's not an early enough diagnosis. So my son wasn't diagnosed till he's just over seven, he'd already had four years experience of school, which was negative, with therefore the anxiety had built up. And I must admit, the school had tried everything the mainstream school, it just wasn't the right environment for him. And then the next hurdle was having to fight to get him into a school, which was the right environment for him. And he flourished the difference within a week of him been in a special school, he flourished and did really well at primary, the huddle demo game was at secondary, so he hasn't really had a secondary education. Because I think there's even in a special school still, there's still a lot of emphasis around behaviour and trying to tap into sorting out that behaviour rather than understanding that all behaviour is communication, and rather trying to look at the journey of where that behaviour came from. We're trying to nip the behaviour in the bud and never really understanding well, what's the anxiety, what are the difficulties and talking with that shoulder young person and getting them and giving them the opportunities to communicate that we're trying to sort out the behaviour and all that does is just escalate things and make the situation worse.

Simon Currigan  9:14  

And I suppose here, there's a difference between chosen behaviour where kids are making logical plan choices about what they're doing, and behaviours that have an emotional root because you feel overwhelmed or you're not coping or you're finding it difficult to understand what's going on around you

Nicki Day  9:29  

very much. So but again, for me, for all the work I've been doing over the years, I just feel that schools are still especially mainstream schools are still missing out there should be in this day and age of 2022 with access to the internet, and there's free information and resources out there everywhere for autism for everybody that schools don't just have that basic package, but they know that a child may have autism or destiny has a diagnosis of autism. They put this basic package into place straightaway so you can relieve some of that anxiety, like a visual timetable, like a timeout card like a quiet space a key person and they can talk to, but also talking to the parents, because then forget the parents, the experts, and the parents might have little tricks which the school could implement. And I feel that's still very much lacking in schools so that it then escalates really quickly. And then you're dealing with challenging behaviour, and that reactive behaviour, and we're trying to pick up the mess of that rather than prevention and putting things in place before that,

Simon Currigan  10:20  

it sounds like the right structures aren't in place in school. Now, taking it from a whole school perspective, not just relying on individual teachers to do individual bits of good practice. But actually, how do we plan to support students? Who are neurodiverse? who have a diagnosis? How do we help them succeed in a way that is almost systematic,

Nicki Day  10:40  

that is to be better training. I mean, it was talked about years ago, teacher training level, they were gonna get better training in Sen. I've yet to see that happen. And and I've met quite a few and cuties who've done a day, that's not enough, especially when we're seeing the prevalence rise. That's not because there's more people, I think it's just we've become more aware of it. So from standing point, our teachers aren't trained, and that's not fair or so on the teachers either. So I'm not against the teachers, because there are some amazing teachers out there who want to do their best, but they're not being given the tools either, then the parents aren't being trained. So you wait three, four years for a diagnosis, you wait forever, you go around that revolving door, and then it's a diagnosis goodbye. And the parents aren't trained to understand, well, what are these neurodiverse conditions? And why are they different? And how can you support and then more importantly, the child and young person aren't being trained and talked about what is autism? And how was it for you individually, so right, from an age when they can start understanding, we're not teaching them, so they can hold it in a positive way, rather than a negative way. So those are three areas, all those three key groups of people are not being trained and experienced. And then it's not been openly talked about. It's almost like it's brushed under the carpet and parents are taken aside rather than children are so resilient, and are so caring, and so loving, you know, all the schools should understand about neurodiversity in a positive way, and go, Oh, I realise you see things differently, it should be much more positive language within a school. Rather than just negativity. There's constant reinforcement and negative reinforcement all the time,

Simon Currigan  12:03  

you said you had to fight for your child to receive the support they need in school. And we've started touching on this really, based on the lack of training and understanding what attitudes or misconceptions did you have to overcome to get the support that your child needed?

Nicki Day  12:17  

Sadly, the attitude misconception had to get over it at the local authorities on my side and at the local authorities there to support us. And sadly, that misconception has, I finally seen the truth on that. And I'm sure you hear that from a lot of parents. And it's not only just the families whose misconception of the local authority is changed. It's also the schools because I know a lot of good schools will reach out for support from the local authority, and they're not getting it either. The onus is put on those individual groups since 2014, the law, the whole idea was ever working in partnership together, and it's still not happening there. We aren't nearly eight years later, and we're still not all working together, remembering that the main focus should be about child and young person. So that's another misconception, I believe that my child would be the centre of every wanting to do it. And sadly, for me, all I'm saying is that it's always around resources. Everything was comes back to Money,

Simon Currigan  13:07  

one word that I hear parents and schools to be fair use repeatedly when it comes to the ehcp application process, which is the mechanism by which we can get extra long term support for kids in school. If you're outside the UK is fight. The word fight comes up again, and again. And again, what do you think that is,

Nicki Day  13:27  

I think we've still got a very archaic system. And we always look at the half empty glass rather than the half full. So we're still looking at negativity of neurodiversity, rather than the positivity, you know, you've got Bill Gates, one of the richest men in the world with a very successful company, autistic. Same with Elon Musk, there are lots of positivity, there's no diversity, we're still only looking at the challenging behaviour rather than addressing that, wow, how can we build this up. And what happens in the meantime, is that because we're not putting in the early intervention, because we're not putting in that training, we're ending up with a lot of children, young people out of education, who then are entering adulthood who can't access work, and are going to be more of a drain on society. Rather than seeing it as we put in the early intervention, I'd say the 75 80% of Sen. D children, young people could be proactive when they reach adulthood and putting a lot into society. And I think we're still approaching it in a very archaic system, either we'll ignore it until it gets too difficult. And then we'll try and fix it. Rather than we don't need to fix it. We just need to embrace it and understand it, and then incorporate that between our curriculum and everything else. And it

Simon Currigan  14:28  

sounds like that's what the provision in primary special school got right for your son, the environment and the support meant he was able to flourish and focus and relax and enjoy that time in school. Is that right?

Nicki Day  14:41  

Oh, 100% the meltdowns decreased, the smiles increased. He was accessing learning. He's beginning to stop self regulating, because he was given all that information by very experienced, caring, nurturing staff. And then unfortunately, that kind of change as soon as he went to secondary.

Simon Currigan  14:58  

How did that make you feel as a parent To see your son thriving,

Nicki Day  15:01  

there aren't any words. You know, there were happy tears. I was glad I fought because the fights had worked and I'd got him into the right school and as a parent as a mum, seeing my baby not feel bad about himself, because you know, seven years old, he was hating being autistic, he hated himself, he was self harming all these things that seven year old shouldn't be doing that was made to feel that way because he was made to feel that he was in the wrong because he has autism. So to be in an environment where he was surrounded by other children with other needs or similar needs, he realised he wasn't alone in the world. So that took away some of that negativity, because he was surrounded by other people who had sometimes more difficulties in him. So that made him more nurturing seem to be more patient and caring for some of his fellow students. He was happier started getting more confident he started seeing a future and that's all any parent wants for your child.

Simon Currigan  15:51  

I just like to take a pause for a moment and say that if you're finding this podcast useful, then you're going to love what we've got waiting for you in our inner circle programme. The inner circle is your one stop shop for all things behaviour. It's a comprehensive platform filled with videos, resources and behaviour inspiration to get you unstuck with classroom behaviour. We've got training resources on de escalation, supporting kids with anxiety support strategies for conditions like autism, ADHD, and PDA. practical ways of helping pupils deal with strong emotions, assertive behaviour management techniques for managing the whole class setting out to a classroom environment for success. Resetting behaviour with tricky classes, and more. Our online videos walk you through practical solutions, step by step, just like Netflix, you can turn an inner circle subscription on or off whenever you need to, with no minimum contract Plus, you can now get your first seven days of inner circle for just one pound. Get the behaviour answers that you've been looking for today with inner circle visit to UK and click on the inner circle picture near the top of the homepage for more information. That's a good time to come on to ABA. So could you tell us a little about ABA applied behaviour analysis? Can you tell us what it is and what it's used for in sort of general terms? Well,

Nicki Day  17:17  

it's quite funny because I did behavioural analysis psychology degree, obviously, with Skinner. And it's fine because that's with rats or with monkeys, but human beings are far more complex than that. And our needs are unique and individual. So behaviour analysis is around looking into behaviour. So you want that child or young person to possibly change. And that's by using a psychological approach, which is using negative and positive reinforcement. So you want to encourage the good behaviour or the positive behaviour. And you could do that through rewards or through punishment. And ideally, it's about changing that behaviour through those approaches.

Simon Currigan  17:55  

And this is something you see a lot in schools to manage whole classes, as well as to manage the behaviour of individual kids with additional needs.

Nicki Day  18:03  

Yes, I see it failing in schools left, right and centre, because what they're doing is they're doing the negative and positive reinforcement for the child or young person, there's no grey area that's very black and white. So they go to isolation, which I think is just a barbaric in its own sense. But the child or young person is vaguely given the rules, they apply those rules. And if they don't give you the kind of reward, you get a punishment, but with the punishment, they're not then taught how to change that for next time that is punished. So no one ever sits them down and goes, you got punished because of this. Why do you think you did this? And what could you choose to do next time, what could be your choice next time is all about punishments. And what that young person or child is doing is not learning anything, they've just been punished. And half the time, especially if they've got neurodiversity, they might be getting punished for disability led behaviour, which is going to confuse them even more, because that's out of their control. So I think schools have taken on this behavioural approach, but very simplistic and very black and white. And they're not teaching that child or young person where to go and how to change.

Simon Currigan  19:02  

I was speaking to a young man a couple of months ago. And we were talking about how isolation and exclusion wasn't working for him. And literally the words he used were just punishing me won't help me get better. I need someone to help me learn what to do.

Nicki Day  19:17  

Absolutely. I thoroughly agree with and that's what a school should be about. Because I think we still heavily rely on assuming that families and parents can do it. And sadly, that's not the case in all cases. And I believe Schools shouldn't just be about the academic side. How can you learn if you're stressed or you're anxious? How can you learn if you feel sad, and we must be have a much more positive talk around mental health incorporated into schools. And then if we are going to use punishment, for not against, but I'm against punishment, which doesn't also then reflect and teach because like, your young man said, Well, I'm getting punished. I don't understand why. So how could he change his behaviour, and then he gets punished again, and it ends up in this big cycle of punishment to get to the point where they go, Well, I might as well just not bother them. Honestly. give up, because you're gonna punish me anyway,

Simon Currigan  20:01  

punishment without support almost feels like tyranny.

Nicki Day  20:06  

On the same page, there's

Simon Currigan  20:08  

many members of the Autistic community now oppose how some practitioners are using ABA in particular, and how it's being applied to people with autism as actively harmful? Can you tell us about why this is? And can you explain like your concerns about this approach?

Nicki Day  20:25  

My main concern is that it's another area where schools are failing, failing to recognise all behaviours, communication, especially children of young people with autism who have difficulties in communication, that's part of their diagnosis, they have difficulties with interaction part of their diagnosis. And that can cause high anxiety. We all know that when we're feeling anxious, we will struggle to speak, you add in, the brain literally will shut down for most people, but also with neurodiverse people making it harder for them to communicate, they will find other ways to communicate, because we're humans, and we need to communicate. And that might be unfortunately, throw in a chair, or something like that. And what we need to be doing is taking my 10 Second Rule, step back and look at that scenario, and what are they actually trying to say, don't just look at the chair throw and look at why that chair might be thrown. And what behave ABA is doing is only looking at that chair being thrown. And therefore what you're doing is you're taking that voice, their only form of communication away from an autistic person, because a lot of the time they can't speak verbally. So they might be doing it by stemming, or they might be doing it by rocking or flapping or storming out the classroom or putting their head on the table. That is still them communicating help, I need help, I'm struggling with ABA, they're trying to get rid of those behaviours, which means we're taking that voice away from that old person with autism, and punishing them for communicating that way.

Simon Currigan  21:41  

And often some of those techniques like the flapping and the stimming, often, they're a way of trying to regulate the anxiety and stress. So by removing that Prop, you're making the problem worse,

Nicki Day  21:52  

but also trying to make them neurotypical. And you can't they have a neuro diverse brain from birth, well, before birth in the womb. So you're trying to make their brain do something actually physically cannot do. Because it's not designed to do that. That's not to say that an autistic brain. And that's why routines are so important that consistency is so important. Their brain pathways can change over time, if you clearly tell them why you want them to do it, how to do it, and support them to do it consistently. They can understand like my son in the past, he's learned how to do things, he doesn't understand this. So why he has to do it. But he gets he has to do it because it's the social norm. So his brain can rebuild those pathways to understand that, but by taking away his self regulation, which helps him calm down, so you can listen and communicate is going to block them from doing that. And all you're doing is literally suppressing them, you know, trying to make them to do eye contact, why trying to make to hug an autistic brain can actually physically tell them that they are in pain from the slightest touch. That's not for us as a neurotypical to say that they're wrong, because that's their brain, not my brain. And it took me years to learn that with my son. And that was also through studying more and more about autism, I realised that your brain, your pain receptors are telling you in pain. That's not me to make that choice.

Simon Currigan  23:05  

So I'll ask you a hard question now, actually, and it's one I've been thinking about a lot. I don't have an answer for my perspective. But from your perspective, we're still on what's the difference between supporting kids with areas of need, and then in inverted commas trying to normalise them? Well, where's the line

Nicki Day  23:20  

training and experience and understanding? I think that's the line that the schools I go into the good schools I go into, it's clear that all members of staff, like the whole school approach happens that the classmates are informed that they've got autism. And that's why maybe they behave in this way that the class teacher is aware of giving them those movement breaks about loud to break things down slowly for them, given them time. So the difference between working with the knees, and normalising is a lack of experience, knowledge and understanding and training. And it's

Simon Currigan  23:50  

the difference in approach. One is lifting someone up, and the other is trying to squash them down into a cage into something they're not.

Nicki Day  23:57  

Absolutely. So it's about that language of acceptance, you know, that comments that most parents will have got, oh, I've worked with a child with autism before. Yeah, but that's not my child. Or, oh, it's only autism. It is about like you said, lifting them up, rather than pushing them down. And it's about the use of language. I think it's a very much a very much an English thing as well, maybe a Western thing. We're really good at using quite negative language, we, I don't think we use positive words, we kind of very good at talking to people. We're not very good at actually active listening. And we're not really good at using positive words and the way we talk with people, it's all very negative language. And I think that's a difference with telling someone what to do and asking them how we can support you.

Simon Currigan  24:37  

And just to clarify, there are some practitioners out there that are claiming they can again in inverted commas cure autism. That's not right. Is it?

Nicki Day  24:46  

Oh, it's absolute rubbish. No, there's no such thing as cure for autism, but you can with early intervention, depending on where you are on the spectrum, but with early intervention, and early support and provision which meet that individual's needs, they won't be cured. But they will have a much better bag of tricks when they go out into that world when they're older. And they can access life put more into life positively because they feel positive about themselves because they've experienced has been, yes, you're autistic. Like it should be just the same as if with anyone with a condition. We understand the condition we support it, but it's not what controls and owns you. From a

Simon Currigan  25:21  

parent's perspective. What do you think is the motivation of people who claim they can cure autism or change the tone, it's inherently

Nicki Day  25:29  

muddy. Because, you know, the Sen. D community parents are desperate by the ages about seven because they're still waiting for diagnosis, a lot of time and lessons managed to go private things start to fall apart school that affects the whole home, you've got mental health issues, parents desperate. So a lot of ABA practitioners or other practitioners will put it out like they've got this miracle, and your life will suddenly come better. And parents are desperate farmers are desperate, as predatory I think in some cases is just not true. And they're not empowering the parent and they're not informing the parents I believe we freely speak back to the basics about teaching that whole family Wallace autism, how does that fit your child or young person and then you start how to support them not coming in with his great big disclaimers of we can do this or we can do that, which I think a lot of the time of factually untrue and a few purely for fun that

Simon Currigan  26:20  

we have to say as well. Just to be clear, we're not labelling all ABA practitioners like that we're talking about a small number of people here who are kind of misrepresenting a kind of more predatory in their practices. If you're a teacher or a parent listening to this podcast, what's the first step you can take today, to learn more about supporting your students who have a diagnosis of autism in your class or school,

Nicki Day  26:41  

there's lots of free websites out there with some amazing information like the National Autistic Society has got teachers resources, pack specialties, jungle counts, for disabled children, they've all got those resources, there's plenty of little YouTube videos out there. So I would always recommend go for the really simplest basic one, don't go for the big peer analysis, research papers, which are gonna be pages and pages long. Just go for that straight to the point what autism is, from the people who tell you so on the National Autistic Society, you've got it from the mouse, who have the people who walk in it from the child's point of view, the parents point of view. So as a teacher, really hear that because I know, and it's no fault for a lot of teachers, but I get the pressure that they're under that if only for six hours a day, what they're not seeing is that morning run where that child has had no sleep, the breakfast in the morning run took an hour and a half, maybe two meltdowns whilst juggling two other children and the parents exhausted by the time they get to school. So we're not shouting at you, because we hate you. were shouting at you because we're exhausted. And we feel we're not being supported. So for teachers that really would just look at the simplest and go for good sites like National Autistic Society, or counts for disabled children who will give clear, honest information and resources for how to support the child, young person in the family with autism. And then I'd also say, talk to the parent, please have open dialogue and communication with the parents, majority parents don't want to scream at you don't want to shout at you. It is just because we're desperate because we're not getting that support for anywhere. And then right from the start. When we first started that pathway, were questioned by the health visitor, the GP, the school nurse, all these people say, well, it might not be autism, it might not be this five years down the line, we might have a diagnosis or the behaviours have been much more clear. And that way, we really need that communication with the school, we really want that healthy communication with the teacher, but also that parents full of information, if you want to know, ask the parent,

Simon Currigan  28:36  

when everyone works together, you usually get a better outcome 100%. And finally, we asked this of all our guests, who's the key figure that's influenced you? Or what's the key book that you've read? That's had the biggest impact on your approach to working with kids?

Nicki Day  28:52  

It probably was that module I did with the Open University because I wasn't expecting because I hadn't checked my modules. So it suddenly turned up and it was all factual. And I just had diagnosis. I just got my son into special school, but I still couldn't work. And for me, I work better. I'm a Why Why does that happen? And what can I do? And the book really top exactly what autism was all the different aspects of it. And because of that I went, it may be parent differently, in what way because I realise a lot of some of the behaviours he was doing are completely out of his control. That was the autism and that was his brain, and he's only young as well. So it taught me to calm down a lot more to not be reactive to some things because that wasn't out of his control and not his fault. But how I reacted to it could either make it better or worse. It made me see the beautiful side of autism and bring that side out of him and maybe pick my battles and realise what a Why am I getting angry of that when it's completely out of his control?

Simon Currigan  29:50  

I imagine that must have had a really positive impact on your relationship.

Nicki Day  29:54  

It did because it made me I think, for a lot of time we scrabble around while we're waiting for diagnosis and because we're That Limbo land, we feel we can't say to anybody, well, they might be autistic therefore gonna behave in this way. And everyone's seen a challenging behaviour and you're kind of feeling you have a British and apologise and unnecessarily so rather than well actually, that's not his fault. It is what it is. It's us the neurotypicals who have to adapt and change because our brain is much more capable of doing that than an autistic brain is it our relationship definitely became much more positive from that day, because I was able to respect and accept and step back and just calm down a lot more, which makes a world much easier for an autistic person if you're a typical people just

Simon Currigan  30:37  

calm down. Nikki, it's been a pleasure. Thank you for being on the show.

Nicki Day  30:40  

Thank you for inviting me, Simon.

Emma Shackleton  30:42  

Okay. Very interesting. I think what Nikki highlighted there was the importance of getting systems and training at a whole school level, right? So teachers have got the knowledge they need to support kids, and the school as a whole can intentionally meet the needs of their children. Absolutely. So this highlights the importance of early intervention. So if you work with kids with challenging behaviour, and you're not sure why they're acting that way, we've got a download that can help. It's called the SCN handbook, and it will help you link behaviours you've seen in the classroom with possible causes such as autism and ADHD.

Simon Currigan  31:21  

The idea here isn't for teachers to make a diagnosis, we're not qualified. But if we can link classroom behaviours to possible causes quickly, it means we can get the right help and get early intervention strategies in place.

Emma Shackleton  31:34  

The handbook is a free download, so go to our website UK, click on the free resources tab near the top, and we'll also put a link in the episode description.

Simon Currigan  31:47  

And if you've enjoyed today's episode, why not do yourself a favour and subscribe. All you've got to do is open your app, tap the subscribe button or follow us. It's now called in Apple podcasts and your podcast app or download each and every episode as it's released so you never miss a thing. And to celebrate, why not put a fig on a wig a banana on a Parana or a melon on a felon. You can choose any fruit and any receptacle as long as they rhyme. Those long summer evenings will just fly by.

Emma Shackleton  32:18  

I think I'll pass. That's all we've got time for today. I hope you have a great week and we look forward to seeing you on the next episode of school behaviour secrets. Bye bye

(This automated transcript may not be 100% accurate.)