Specialist training for educators transforms Tom’s life
Tom, 11, is prone to “meltdowns”.
He is in Grade 6 at Kilberry Valley Primary School in Hampton Park, and whilst he is high functioning, he has Asperger’s Syndrome, an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) that affects people’s communication and socialisation abilities.
People with Asperger’s often have average or above average intelligence but can struggle to contain their emotions.
“If something doesn’t go his way or he doesn’t understand why he can’t do something, his behaviour is bad!” mum Jody Newton says.
She remembers Tom’s early behaviours as being particularly “hideous”.
“I had this kid who was pushing over tables and chairs and running out of classrooms,” Jody says. “It was awful.”
But with support, Tom’s outlook and behaviour has transformed.
The school invested in providing their teachers and support staff with specialist training to understand and communicate with students affected by ASD.
Tom has been provided with a full-time integration aide who helps him understand how to approach given tasks, often by “breaking down” general instructions into smaller, precise ones.
“If I told Tom to clean his room he’d be like, “Where do I start?” Jody explains. “I would have to first tell him to put all his books on his bookshelf, then he would come back to me for more instructions for what to do next.”
The aide also understands Tom’s emotional triggers and this helps to prevent outbursts.
Jody wishes that all children with ASD had access to the kind of support provided to her son.
“Kids like Tom can get so lost in the education system,” Jody says. “There needs to be more funding to help these kids within all schools.”
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