'More should be done for those supporting ASD pupils'
KAREN Glasby is on a mission to change people's attitude about school students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
As a lecturer in special education at USQ with more than 15 years' experience in the classroom, Mrs Glasby knows first-hand the complex challenges teachers face to meet the needs of children with ASD.
Her son Caleb was diagnosed with ASD when he was three and attended supported mainstream schooling throughout most of his schooling life.
According to the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC), more than 70% of children on the autism spectrum are educated in mainstream schools in Australia.
Mrs Glasby believes teachers need a broader knowledge and understanding of practices to support students with ASD.
"But awareness and professional training is not enough," she said.
"Unfortunately there is an attitude that the answer is we must fix the kids and make them normal so they can fit into school, but obviously that's neither appropriate nor effective.
"The key is a change of attitude at all levels.
"One thing I tell every pre-service teacher is that not only do you need to equip yourself with many strategies to support the child, but you also need to believe that they deserve the extra effort and that in the long run it will make a positive difference to their life.
"USQ's upcoming symposium encourages teachers to take a strengths-based approach by focusing on what students can do and what they're real talents and abilities are, instead of focusing on what they can't do."
The symposium, Different Minds - Supporting Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder, will be held at USQ Springfield on August 26.
It is open to practising teachers, pre-service teachers, educators, parents, teacher aides and any professional who works with students with ASD in schools, such as principals, guidance officers and therapists.
Participants will hear from experts from across Queensland and learn practical approaches and strategies that can be used to cater for students with ASD.
"There are many benefits for students with ASD who are educated in inclusive classrooms; they feel part of the community, they're making friends and learning academic skills and social values," Mrs Glasby said.
"But teachers need more time and help so they feel adequately supported to put these specific strategies in place within the context of their classroom and school."
Another feature of the symposium will be keynote addresses from teacher Nathan Watts and stable hand Caleb Glasby. The pair will share their experiences living with ASD and the challenges they faced while attending mainstream schooling.
"Nathan and Caleb are proof that young people with ASD can live successful lives and reach their potential if they receive the support to succeed," Mrs Glasby said.
The symposium costs $70 a person. To register or for more information, visit www.usq.edu.au/bela/ school-linguistics-adult-and -specialist-learning/ educational-engagement/ different-minds-supporting- students-with-autism- spectrum--disorder