I have not completed any course specifically for dealing with autism, but I am studing inclusive education. We need training on autism. We would also need professionals who are available for providing support when need it. I need concrete examples from practice.

Why are you interested in the ETTECEC project?

I am expecting advice and guidelines on how to work with autistic children. I would like to have examples of good practices with good analysis.

Tell us about your experience and needs working with autistic children/ parenting your autistic child and dealing with school issues.

In my experience, the following issues are the most challenging ones: communication with peers, food, focus/attention, introduction of new children in a group, return after holidays and longer breaks.

  • Communication with peers: The specific situation that I encounter in relation to the child who is included in the project is usually about his communication with peers. The child only socializes with two other children and not with the rest of the group. He shows interest in engaging with other children, but he doesn’t know how to interact with them. Sometimes, the other children ignore him. His speech is very difficult to understand (speech delay, unclear and incorrect pronunciation, stutter), which makes it difficult for other children too.
  • Food: He has issues with food and takes part in sensory therapy (outside of the preschool). He does not like the spread on the bread, pieces of vegetables in a soup, sauces or touching food in general.
  • Focus/attention: Often he just wanders off with the attention. He has difficulties when it comes to maintain eye contact. If he is interested in and attracted to the material, the attention is not a problem (e.g. when playing with kinetic sand, rice, millet).
  • spoke out.
  • Holidays and longer breaks: Longer breaks in attending preschool make the situation worse. When he returns, he is very loud.

In terms of strategies of working with him: He has individualized programme due to language-speech disorder. We explain things to him more often, often one-on-one. For food, we did not put spread on the bread, we gave him clear soup (without any pieces of vegetables), no sauces on pasta, we separated food on the dish (meat and side dish). Otherwise, he receives the same treatment as the rest of the children.

In relation to cooperation with parents, it works well. Us, as teachers, follow mother’s instructions. I do not have many information with specialists the child is seeing – this is followed by our special pedagogue.

In relation to cooperation within preschool, I have support from our special pedagogue. She tells us what to do (e.g. provide quiet corner for him, one-on-one work, explain again, keep him close). With other teachers, we exchange information from the courses.

Why do you think that it is necessary to develop a training for pre-school teachers?

I have not completed any course specifically on how to deal with an autistic child but I am studing inclusive education. We need training on autism.

What would be the project’s most valuable information/tool/result for you?

General knowledge about autism, including all its dimensions. Even though each (autistic) child is unique, we would need some basic knowledge to deal with the situation. We would need information about diagnosis to recognize such a disability. We would need professionals who are available for support us when needed. I would need concrete examples from practice.

― Zala, Assistant teacher, Slovenia