The ﬁndings from this evaluation suggest that the Teach Me AsIAm Early Years Programme has impacted positively on participants’ knowledge(s); practices and values in providing for autistic children in the early years.
The evaluation clearly indicates the need for early childhood educators to understand the counter-intuitive leap necessary in order to provide effectively for autistic children in the early years (Ring, Daly and Wall 2018). Given the increase in the prevalence of autism, it is important therefore that the Teach Me AsIAm Early Years Programme continues to be available to all early childhood educators and that consideration is given to exploring other modes of delivery, such as blended or online formats. Continuing to support ELC services through combining support from personnel who have broader perspectives and educators who have critical site-based knowledge is also essential (Guskey 2003). While a number of participants suggested that an onsite visit from AsIAm personnel would be beneﬁcial in consolidating their learning on the programme: ‘have someone visit the service for to give hands on guidance’, it is suggested that the AIM provides a more appropriate and robust structure for this process (AIM 2016). In order to begin with a shared understanding, however it is suggested that all personnel providing support for ELC services should be provided with the opportunity to undertake the Teach Me AsIAm Early Years Programme.
Finally, the evaluation has highlighted the importance of restructuring IPE for early childhood teachers to ensure all undergraduates have both theoretical and practical experience in providing for children with diverse abilities. Critically the evaluation points to the need for a CPD infrastructure in order to elevate CPD for early childhood teachers ‘to an inquiry-based profession rather than a haphazard set of activities based on intuition, hearsay, tradition and folklore’ (Guskey 2009: p. 232). Finally, while the evaluation has highlighted the importance of continuing to evaluate the impact of CPD across all of the levels suggested by Guskey (2002), it is critical that we continue to accrue authentic evidence on the ultimate goal of CPD, which is optimising children’s outcomes.
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