Autism and Early Years Practice

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Kate Wall

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    Foreword

    In the five years since the first edition of Kate Wall's Autism and Early Years Practice: A Guide for Early Years Professionals, Teachers and Parents, there have been many further developments in the field of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) and Kate has once again provided a scholarly and academically rigorous text which includes research information and practical knowledge, rooted in her own extensive experience. That first edition of Kate's book was not only welcomed and applauded by practitioners it received warm recognition by fellow academics and reviewers.

    As Kate argues, the field of ECEC is one in which practitioners are highly committed, dedicated and willing to learn. Generally, they aim to do their very best for the children with whom they work. Young children whose learning needs may demand more of staff are hopefully benefiting from better levels of training, especially from reading and reflecting on books such as this and Kate's earlier publications.

    As I pointed out in the Foreword to the first edition, it is in their earliest years that children usually begin to gain important knowledge about how other people and their worlds ‘work’. For example, by around 18 months old, most children start to comprehend that those with whom they share their lives, both adults and other children, have different minds from their own, different likes and dislikes, different desires. Along with that comes the ability to understand others' emotions, feelings, meanings and imaginative play. For children with autism such understandings are far more difficult to grasp, which makes family and ECEC group life a greater challenge. As one wonderful parent explained to me many years ago, ‘It's like setting off for a holiday in Spain but the plane lands in Switzerland. You've mugged up on the wrong language, among other things, but you still have a wonderful time and visit some beautiful places’. Parents of young children with autism will have experienced fewer ‘rewards’, such as mutual smiles and protoconversations (early singsong ‘chats’) with their babies. As a result, they are likely to welcome proficient, discerning early years practitioners who can share their responsibilities and help them see the rewards that their children do offer.

    Autism and Early Years Practice is already established as an important book for both trainees and existing staff in the ECEC field, whatever their professional backgrounds and titles. As a role model, Kate always demonstrates how to be an extended professional – those professionals who are committed, compassionate, reflective and informed workers, who strive constantly for greater awareness of children, parents, policy and of themselves, through observation, theory, research and practice. What is particularly compelling about such professionals is their strong desire to share their own learning with others in the field, in order to improve provision for all our young children.

    TriciaDavidEmeritus Professor of Education, Canterbury Christ Church University and Honorary Emeritus Professor of Early Childhood Education, University of Sheffield. May 2009

    Glossary

    ABCAutism Behaviour Checklist
    ADIAutism Diagnostic Interview
    ADOSAutism Diagnostic Observational Schedule
    ASAsperger's syndrome
    ASDAutistic spectrum disorder
    BAECEBritish Association for Early Childhood Education
    BOSBehaviour Observation Scale for Autism
    BSEBehaviour Summarized Evaluation
    CARSChildhood Autism Rating Scale
    CDCreative development
    CHATChecklist for Autism in Toddlers
    CLLCommunication language and literacy
    CPDContinuing Professional Development
    DCSFDepartment for Children, Schools and Families
    DfESDepartment for Education and Skills
    DISCODiagnostic Interview for Social and Communication Disorders
    DoHDepartment of Health
    DRCDisability Rights Commission
    DSM-IVDiagnostic and Statistical Manual (Version 4)
    ECMEvery Child Matters
    ESPEarly Support Programme
    EYFSEarly Years Foundation Stage
    GPGeneral practitioner
    HIBSHandicaps and Behaviour Schedule
    IBSEInfant Behavioural Summarized Evaluation
    ICD-10International Classification of Diseases (Version 10)
    ICTInformation and communications technology
    IDPInclusion Development Programme
    IEPIndividual education plan
    IPSEAIndependent Panel for Special Educational Advice
    KUWKnowledge and understanding of the world
    LEALocal education authority
    LGALocal Government Association
    MDMathematical development
    MRCMedical Research Council
    NASNational Autistic Society
    NASENNational Association for Special Educational Needs
    NCNational Curriculum
    NFERNational Foundation for Educational Research
    NIHNational Institute of Health
    OfstedOffice for Standards in Education
    PDPhysical development
    PDDPervasive developmental disorder
    PDD-NOSPervasive developmental disorder – not otherwise specified
    PECSPicture Exchange Communication System
    PL-ADOSPre-Linguistic Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule
    PLAPre-school Learning Alliance
    PPAPre-school Playgroups Association
    PSEPersonal, social and emotional development
    PWSPrader-Willi Syndrome
    SENSpecial educational needs
    SENCOSpecial educational needs co-ordinator
    SENDASpecial Educational Needs and Disability Discrimination Act
    SNSpecial needs
    TEACCHTreatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication-handicapped CHildren
    WHOWorld Health Organization

    Terminology

    For the purposes of clarity the following terminology will be used throughout this book:

    Early years/young children will be considered as aged 0–8 years, but this book will focus predominantly on the under-5s or pre-school children as there is a plethora of information available on children of statutory school age.

    Early years provider/provision/setting will refer to any practitioner or establishment providing opportunities and/or support to 0–5–year-old children. This will include pre-school groups, nurseries, nursery classes, child-minders, day-care, special needs units/classes/schools and educare groups.

    Parents will refer to any person, parent or otherwise, assuming ‘parental responsibility’ for the child.

    Professionals/practitioners refers to any person working with children in any setting, whether or not they hold professional qualifications.

    Special educational needs (SEN) will be considered as any difficulties experienced by a child requiring additional or different educational provision to be made.

    Special needs (SN) will be considered as those difficulties experienced by a child that do not necessarily result in a special educational need.

    Acknowledgements

    My thanks are extended to everyone who has supported me over the years, for their motivation, patience and support. Tricia David, who has always inspired me, continues to be a key motivator, and for that I will always be very grateful. Special thanks must go to those closest to me who have given their personal support and encouragement, namely Michael, Sam and Tracy, without whom I would not have completed this work, and to Jude who makes sure I stay on track.

    This book is dedicated, as always, to mum.

    About the Author

    Kate Wall is Principal Lecturer and Childhood Studies: Early Years Programme Leader at the University of Chichester. She has worked extensively as a practitioner in early years mainstream and special settings. This was initially within primary schools in areas experiencing deprivation, but later in early years provision spanning pre-school playgroups, family centres and early years special units. Her current work involves teaching undergraduate students as well as leading professional development courses for early years practitioners.

    Her knowledge, expertise and skills are further utilised in her work as an author. Kate has published articles in early years journals, chapters in edited works and, of course, her other successful books: Special Needs and Early Years (2006, 2nd edn) and Education and Care for Adolescents and Adults with Autism (2007). She has also presented at international conferences.

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