AsIAm launched the ‘Teach Me As I Am’ Early Years Autism Training Programme in North Dublin on Monday 19th February. This was the first training session of thirty-four to take place across the country until the end of June. We are delighted to have had this programme funded through Early Childhood Ireland’s ‘Pyjama Day’ initiative.
With the introduction of the second ECCE year in Ireland, and the implementation of the Access and Inclusion Model, more and more children with autism will be accessing early years education. It has been widely acknowledged that early intervention is of crucial importance for children with autism, yet our research had shown us that early years professionals did not feel equipped with the knowledge and tools to best support and include children with autism in their settings. 60% of educators who engaged in our research reported that they had never received any training in the area of autism.
The aim of this programme is to develop practical skills and tools for practitioners to make the early years setting as inclusive and accepting an environment as possible for all children. It will be very different from anything that has been carried out in the sector previously; early years educators have had an input into exactly which areas surrounding autism they’d like to learn more about. There will be a second session for each group of educators to report back and discuss how they applied their new knowledge to practice, and have an opportunity to expand on the learning that took place on Day 1.
Speaking about the demand for the training, AsIAm’s Early Years Training Programme Co-Ordinator Fiona Ferris said, “The early years sector has really positively represented itself in its openness and eagerness to learn about autism. All 16 locations were booked out within 12 hours of launching the programme, with a further 400+ people on the waiting list. This shows us the extent of the need for knowledge and training in this area, and we feel strongly that we are addressing the needs of the sector in this training programme.”
AsIAm is delighted to have had extremely positive feedback from those who have attended this training. One attendee from the Kerry training reported “It was one of the best informed workshops I have been to in a long time”, while another from North Dublin said “At last we have a course that explains so much about autism. I came away feeling that I understood a little more about how the classroom can affect the children in my service, who have not been diagnosed yet but clearly are struggling. My staff and I have felt so helpless not knowing what to do to make life easier, happier and fun for them. It helps to understand how the world looks and sounds to them”.
Training continues across the country, bringing knowledge and awareness to the early years education sector. We look forward to keeping everyone updated!