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Presented and produced by Seán Delaney.

In this podcast I explore the topic of education and autism by speaking to a classroom teacher, Graham Manning from Cork, and a university researcher, Professor Steffie van der Steen from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.

Among the topics we discuss are:

  • How Graham became coordinator of classes for autistic students in school
  • The organisation with which Graham undertook training on helping students develop good sleeping habits.
  • How Steffie became interested in researching autism and the education of students with autism in the Netherlands.
  • The Salamanca Statement on special needs education:
  • Graham’s class arrangements from a student’s perspective
  • Different needs of autistic students from primary to secondary school
  • Graham’s problem with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Inclusive Education in New Brunswick and that province's views on inclusion versus segregation
  • Excellence in practice: visiting homes of students who apply for the special class and managing transitions from primary to secondary school and from secondary to third level.
  • Graham referred to a quote widely attributed to Dr. Stephen Shore that “when you meet one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.”
  • Steffie’s research findings that are relevant for teachers: assessing young children on science concepts (Marble task and air pressure task); four categories of teachers’ needs in relation to teaching students with special needs: cooperation, academic tools, social aspects, reassurance for insecure newly qualified teachers; her hypothesis about the need to ask students both higher- and lower- order questions.
  • Students learned from years of experience with students with autism and getting to know them.
  • Lessons teachers can take from her experience of assessing young students with special education needs: variation in questions and hands-on tasks.
  • Classroom interactions in Graham’s class for autistic students (Building relationships, subject planning, spending time outdoors, making meals together in the “home room,” creating a safe space)
  • Steffie’s research (with her doctoral student, Lisette de Jonge-Hoekstra) on the relationship between children’s speech and their gestures when working on a task (including “gesture-speech mismatch)
  • Steffie on animal-assisted therapy for students with autism
  • Graham on why there are insufficient special classes in post-primary schools
  • Steffie recommends: https://scholar.google.com/.
  • Graham recommends The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida.


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