• Fri. Jul 12th, 2024

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Autism charity creates free toolkit for region’s schools

A LEADING autism charity has developed a free educational toolkit to help teachers across the region to champion the message of autism acceptance.

The North East Autism Society (NEAS) created the easy-to-follow Teacher’s Toolkit ahead of Autism Acceptance Week, which runs from March 28th until April 3rd.

The 23-page document is packed full of educational videos, information about autism and neurodiversity, lesson plans and activity ideas designed to teach children and young people about difference.

“Every year we work with schools across the North-east to promote our message of autism acceptance,” says NEAS Family Development Manager Kerrie Highcock. “But this year we have taken things one step further by creating our Teacher’s Toolkit so that teachers feel fully equipped and supported to teach their pupils about autism and neurodiversity.”

For this year’s campaign, the North East Autism Society has adopted the theme of ‘Our Journey to Acceptance’. Throughout the week the charity will be reflecting on its 42-year history and generating conversation about how far is still left to go.

Pupils who have previously taken part in NEAS’s Autism Acceptance Week campaign said:

  • “For Autism Awareness Week we had an assembly to learn about how things are sometimes difficult for people with autism, We learned about how we can help others and what to do if someone with autism is upset. We designed bunting to show people with autism that we care about them and put it on the yard to show parents.”
  • “It is important to be aware about autism so we know how to help people. We found out what sometimes makes people with autism sad and we learn how to help them. I enjoyed the week because we talked about how it is good to be different.”
  • “I liked Autism Awareness Week because it teaches us how to make people with autism happy and it is like a festival about them. It is very important to tell lots of people because they might have someone in their family with autism. I liked learning about how it feels to have autism because we can celebrate our differences.”

As part of the annual campaign, schools will also be encouraged to fundraise for the charity, which was founded by a group of parents in Sunderland more than 40 years ago. While businesses and individuals across the region are also being urged to sign up.

Every school that signs up to take part in the campaign will be entered into a prize draw to win a visit from NEAS mascot Snowdrop the hedgehog, along with local children’s author Peter Barron and illustrator Jonathan Raiseborough who will deliver a free creativity workshop.

The charity has also organised a host of events, including its annual Walk for Acceptance at Herrington Country Park on Friday 22 April. The one-mile lap of the park is wheelchair and pushchair friendly and there will be entertainment for the whole family, including music, face painting and sporting activities thanks to Everyone Active.

NEAS is also hosting a virtual conference called Acceptance Matters on Thursday 28 April. A panel of autistic speakers will share their lived experience, knowledge and professional expertise as part of the all-day event.

To find out more about Autism Acceptance Week, and to sign up to take part, please visit www.ne-as.org.uk/autism-acceptance-week.