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Trainee teachers' workshop: making sense of sensory differences in autism

29 September 2016

CRAE teaching assistants workshop

In September 2016, the Centre for Research in Autism and Education (CRAE) held a workshop on sensory differences in autism for 40 trainee teachers, as part of their Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) course.

The workshop, led by Professor Liz Pellicano, aimed to raise awareness and understanding of sensory sensitivities in autism.

Many autistic people can be more or less sensitive to information coming into their senses than non-autistic people. Sensory sensitivities can have a huge impact on people's everyday lives. In some cases, this can be enjoyable or pleasurable but in others, this may be uncomfortable or even distressing.

In the workshop, trainee teachers considered how these sensory sensitivities might impact autistic pupils' experience and learning in a classroom environment or school setting.

As part of the session, former CRAE PhD student and designer, Dr Katie Gaudion, led a creative Ready, Steady, Make! interactive workshop to get students thinking about their own sensory likes and dislikes. Students worked in groups to discuss and explore each other's preferences using sensory profiling cards, designed by Katie, and decorated umbrellas to reflect those preferences. 

65% of the PGCE teachers had not received any formal training specifically on autism prior to the workshop, so the session helped them understand more about this area.

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