3/6/16

Loving and Teaching Children with Autism: Part 1 #11

Do you have a child with autism? Do you teach a child with autism? Listen to this interview for some excellent tips and ideas from this wonderful family!

You can listen to this episode above, listen to it on iTunes or Stitcher, or read the transcript below.

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Education Podcast Network
Welcome, it’s great to have you here. I’m Liz and I’m the host of The Early Childhood Research Podcast. We’re part of the Education Podcast Network so if you’re looking for more podcasts to listen to, pop over to http://ift.tt/1EUzavb
Jennifer and Brad Ratcliffe
This is episode 11 and today I’m switching focus from pure research to practical experience. I’m interviewing 2 educators, Jennifer and Brad Ratcliffe, who are also the parents of 2 boys with autism. We’ll be talking about ways to integrate children with special needs into the classroom, the effective use of support teachers, how family life is changed and the extra pressures that autism brings.

I’ve split the interview into 2 parts rather than making one extra long episode. So this is part 1 and you’ll find the rest of the interview in episode 12.
This was Not on the Brochure
Jenn has written a book called This Was Not On The Brochure. It’s a book about how to live a great life even when it has handed you what you didn’t expect. Brad is working on a super useful app and together they’re writing another book, an A-Z of helpful tips for parents of children with autism.

Just so you know, Jenn is no longer in the classroom. She is now a successful businesswoman which started out because she needed to be able to work from home in order to be there for her boys.

Now to the interview!

Jenn & Brad Ratcliffe, I’m so glad you could join me today.

JENN & BRAD: Thank you. It’s great to be with you.

I’ve been really looking forward to this interview because although this is a research-based podcast, and both of you have worked in, or are currently working in education, our focus today is for you to speak to us as parents. To give us an understanding of working children with autism from a parent’s perspective.
Diagnosis
You have 2 boys, Cameron and Coby, that were both diagnosed with moderate to severe autism when they were young. At what ages were they diagnosed, and what behaviours did you notice in the lead up to being diagnosed?

JENN: Cameron was around 3 years old when he went for his assessment, on his third birthday actually. I remember that quite clearly because it was not what we were hoping for or expecting. Coby was a little bit younger, he was 2.5 years when he went for his assessment. The reason we took them was, initially we thought Cameron might have had a hearing problem. We weren’t sure if he could hear us because quite often he’d be in his own little world. We'd be calling him but he did not seem to be responding, it seemed like he wasn’t understanding.

So initially we took him for a hearing test and that came back clear, but by that stage we’d started to realise. We’d spoken to different people and had started to think it had something to do with autism.

What we noticed was that he’d go into his own shell and socially he didn’t seem to be interested in other people, or even us. And as parents we tried really, really hard to engage him and it was a very challenging thing to do.

He was very obsessed with his behaviours that he loved, like lining things up, matching things, he’d watch a few videos over and over and over and over again. So, a lot of repetitive behaviours.

He also stopped talking. In terms of expressive language he was pretty much on track and he had picked up quite a few words from 12-18 months. But we noticed from 18 months to 2 years those words, and that language, had dropped off significantly.

That was what we’d noticed with Cameron. Coby was a bit different.

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