Forest School and Autism

Upon the release of his book, Forest School and Autism, we spoke to author and practitioner Michael James about what exactly Forest School involves, and why it’s so well suited for autistic learners. 

What exactly is meant by the term ‘Forest School’?

The term “Forest School” describes a specific approach to outdoor learning. Forest School has a strong ethos of learner-centered practice combined with an understanding of the benefits to wellbeing which come from regular contact with nature. Forest School is attended by people of all ages and abilities.

forest school

How is Forest School suited to the needs of autistic people?

Well, I’m always very aware of the saying “If you’ve met one person with autism, then you’ve met one person of autism”! The learner-centered ethos of Forest School seeks to accommodate the individual needs of different learners, and this flexibility can allow autistic learners the space to be themselves and engage on their own terms. This space includes the physical space of natural settings, which is far greater than in indoor settings, and also there is more space in time afforded by the Forest School approach. In my experience, this approach can suit autistic learners very well. Another strength of Forest School is the heightened awareness of place which can encourage practitioners to consider the sensory environment which is obviously important when learners have different sensory needs. For Forest School to best meet the needs of autistic learners the practitioner needs to develop autism awareness, and this book aims to promote and encourage that.

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Autism & Ageing – book extract

The latest in our blog series for Autism Awareness Month, we’re looking at Wenn Lawson’s excellent book for autistic adults. The first book to look seriously at the practical issues facing older adults with autism, Wenn Lawson’s groundbreaking handbook Older Adults and Autism Spectrum Conditions offers support, advice, and sensible ways in which to look at the issues. In this extract, Wenn uses himself as a case study.

autistic adults

As I’ve aged, I’ve noticed a few changes related to ASC that are relevant to this discussion. I’ve divided them into physical setting, emotional wellbeing and social setting, though clearly each overlap.

Physical setting

This broad topic includes health and mobility at home, outside home, at work, using public transport, and visiting family and friends.

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An Adult With an Autism Diagnosis

It’s Autism Awareness Week in the UK this week and, while we want to foreground the voices of our autistic authors as much as possible every week of the year, this week it’s especially important for us all to better recognise, understand and accept the variety and validity of autistic experience. With this in mind, the below extract is an introduction to Gillian Drew’s bestselling An Adult With an Autism Diagnosis: A Guide for the Newly Diagnosed. Aimed at those who receive a diagnosis for the first time as adults, this book draws on personal experiences to provide positive advice on dealing with life, health, and relationships following an adult diagnosis. With thanks to the author for allowing us to share their story. 

Adult Autism Diagnosis

When I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, an Autism Spectrum Disorder, at the age of 28, I was sent away without so much as a leaflet to explain what it all meant. As you can imagine, I was left with more questions than answers. What exactly is autism? Why do I have it? How can it be treated? What does it mean for my life? How does it affect work? How does it affect relationships? What are the long-term consequences? Can I still get married and have children? Should I get professional support? Where should I live? How do I explain this to people? Why was I not diagnosed as a child? Will things improve?

Unfortunately, there was nobody I could ask and nobody who could answer. As someone whose only knowledge of autism came from the movie Rain Man, I discovered to my dismay that there were no books catering for the newly diagnosed adult. The vast majority of the literature on autism focuses on children with the condition, and those books that do cover adults assume you either received the diagnosis as a child and therefore understand an awful lot about it already, or are qualified as a clinical psychologist. I craved a book that could help me understand what it means to be diagnosed with autism as an adult.

Failing to find it, I decided to write it myself to help others come to terms with this life-changing news.

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Relationship-Based Social Work, Second Edition

updated

Gillian Ruch, Danielle Turney and Adrian Ward have updated and revised Relationship-Based Social Work – the highly successful guide to relationship-based practice in social work. Gillian Ruch is Professor of Social Work and works in the Department of Social Work and Social Care at the University of Sussex. Danielle Turney is Senior Lecturer in Social Work and Director of the MSc in Advanced Social Work with Children and Families at the University of Bristol. Formerly Consultant Social Worker at the Tavistock Clinic in London, Adrian Ward has written and edited several books in the fields of residential care and therapeutic communities, social work and professional education.

Relationship-Based Social Work, Second Edition communicates the theory using illustrative case studies and offers a model for practice. This book will be an invaluable textbook for social work students, practitioners on post-qualifying courses and all social work professionals. Updated and expanded, it now includes increased coverage of anti-oppressive and diversity issues, service user perspectives and systemic approaches in social work.

The book explores the ranges of emotions that practitioners may encounter with service users, and covers working in both short-term and long-term professional relationships. It also outlines key skills, such as how to establish rapport, and explores systemic issues, such as building appropriate support systems for practice, management and leadership.

To read the contents, see the contributors, read the foreword and introduction, click here.

New autism books catalogue for winter 2016/17

You can now browse through the 2016/2017 new and bestselling books catalogue for autism.

Featuring exciting new titles arriving in 2017 from Luke Jackson, Kathy Hoopmann, Bo Hejlskov Elven, Wenn Lawson the new JKP autism catalogue also includes some of the bestselling titles of recent years from authors such as Tony Attwood, Carol Gray, Rudy Simone, Jennifer Cook O’Toole and many more. There are new books on Social StoriesTM , Lego-Based therapy, mental health, sexuality, women and girls, anxiety and related conditions for all ages.

If you see anything in the catalogue that interests you please visit www.jkp.com for additional information.

Read Brian Conley’s story from Creative, Successful, Dyslexic – out now in paperback

Rooke_Creative-Succes_978-1-84905-653-3_colourjpg-printEntertainer, actor and singer Brian Conley reveals the difficulties that dyslexia presented him with at school growing up, and how he channelled his dyslexia to work out what he was good at. Harnessing the ‘visual’ way of thinking that comes with it, he now looks on his dyslexia ‘as a total gift’.

Click here to download his story

Filled with first-person stories contributed by well-known people from the arts, sports and business worlds, this inspiring book proves that dyslexia doesn’t have to be a barrier to success. Indeed, it can bring with it the determination, creativity and outlook needed to achieve all we want in life.

Darcey Bussell CBE, Eddie Izzard, Sir Richard Branson, Zoe Wanamaker CBE, Mollie King, Benjamin Zephaniah, Steven Naismith, Lynda La Plante CBE, Sir Jackie Stewart OBE, Chris Robshaw and others share their stories and advice. A percentage of profit from the book is donated to Dyslexia Action. To find out more about Creative, Successful, Dyslexic click here.

Pooky Knightsmith: Three good reasons to write bad poetry

You don’t need tKnightsmith_Using-Poetry-to_978-1-78592-053-0_colourjpg-printo be a poet to write poetry, and you don’t need to write ‘good’ poetry to get a lot out of it.  I’ve found that the very act of writing and reviewing poetry can be incredibly therapeutic regardless of what we might produce.  Letting go of the idea that we need to be in some way talented with words to write poetry can open the door to a truly engaging, interesting and meaningful way to explore and express how we’re feeling.

In this blog post I’m exploring three key reasons why I’m an advocate of writing even the most terrible poetry – I hope it inspires you to give it a go (if so, you may find the fifty poetry writing prompts in my new book, Using Poetry to Promote Talking and Healing a good starting point).  Continue reading

Paolo Hewitt describes the talk he gave about growing up in Burbank Children’s Home

Hewitt_But-We-All-Shin_978-1-84905-583-3_colourjpg-printPaolo Hewitt, author of But We All Shine On and The Looked After Kid, was in Woking last week, the town of the children’s home in which he grew up, to give a talk about his experience in care, and how his personal journey as an adult to discover whatever happened to his close childhood friends led him to write these two, highly moving and inspirational books.

As soon as I walked into the room the nerves kicked in. I had been fine up until that point but the sight of maybe 100 people ready to hear me read and talk about my time in care switched the dial.

It was then I recalled some advice given to me many years ago before a similar event. I was told there was no reason to be nervous. People who were there to hear me read were on my side. They were not against me, they were for me; they wanted to see me succeed. The crowd was not hostile; they were onside. So why be afraid? Continue reading

Diana Hudson provides useful exam time tips for parents whose child has a Specific Learning Difficulty

Hudson-English_Specific-Learni_978-1-84905-590-1_colourjpg-printSpecific learning Difficulties (SpLDs) include conditions such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, attention deficit disorder (ADHD) or autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Exam time is stressful for all students but those who have Specific Learning Difficulties may find it a time of great anxiety and despondency. Often these students have a history of underachieving in test situations and so they feel worried, depressed and lacking in self-confidence. They may fret about remembering material accurately, misreading questions, failing to understand instructions and mistiming answers. Even getting to an unfamiliar exam room can be a source of worry.

So what can teachers and parents do to support them?  Continue reading

The significance of sex and sexuality in young people’s education – Nick Luxmoore shares his views

Luxmoore_Horny-and-Hormo_978-1-78592-031-8_colourjpg-printNick Luxmoore reflects upon his new book Horny and Hormonal to discuss the significance of sex and sexuality in young people’s education, and how these often awkward subjects can begin to be broached by the adults who support them.

A Year 9 girl is posting naked pictures of herself on the Internet. A Year 10 boy thinks he might be the wrong gender. Younger boys in school are asking where they can get hold of condoms. An older girl is worrying that she might be pregnant. A boy is being bullied by a group of his peers saying he’s gay. Younger students are feeling the first stirrings of sexual desire while older students are beginning their first sexual relationships. All of them are wondering if they’re normal and most are watching porn to find out. Meanwhile, at home, there are parents starting affairs, parents moving in with new partners and sons and daughters trying to make sense of this. Some parents are saying that there should be better sex education in school while others are saying there should be no sex education at all….

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