Autistics and School Needs

John Greally's
A to N School Hunting List

- if you really MUST school us -

----- defining neuro-afforming education

Neuro-affirming education eschews conformism in the shape of

- normalising

- training

- disciplining

in favour of valuing diversity to bring out the best a child can be through

- nurturing

- teaching

- discerning

and all of this in the context of a thoroughgoing commitment to

- embracing hidden disability and disability rights,

- encouraging assertiveness and civic rights,

- respecting humanity and human rights,

- actively demonstrating belief in strengths-based approaches to developmental variances,

- with access, agency, equality, equity, self-advocacy all to the fore, never distant, never held in reserve.

Neurodivergent folk should never be subjected to so-called therapies, treatments, interventions that are not honestly connected with their way of surviving and thriving. These do NOTHING to affirm the natural valid purposeful inestimable nature that is ours. There is no deficit in being autistic per se.

We are dying too early because of these impacts.

We are suffering meanwhile.

Affirmation completely cuts this cycle.


To not use any

- ABA, PBIS, PBS, ESDM, EIBI, PCIT, "positive" supports, operant conditioning, breaking-in, negative reinforcement, stimming extinguishing,

- cure, lessening, recovery, optimisation, improvement

- planned ignoring, tough-love, dog-training, manipulation, dishonesty, withholding, passion suppression,

- punishment/rewards, star charts, competitive tables,

- normalisation routines, desensitization, aversion routines, hardening-up and exposure regimes,

- eye-contact or quiet hands demands, whole body listening demands, this-then-that demands, hand-over-hand demands, happy-face demands, demands estranged from logic,

- social skills teaching that are necessarily foreign to autistic culture who have their own socialisations, or social skills in a setting where non-autistics are absent or not being taught autistic expectations also, etc.

----- B. FREEDOM

To have a policy and practice of no seclusion and/or restraint, and for any sensory re-regulation area, or wait-by-principal's-office area to be parent-examined before first use, with an assurance a parent will be told when such alternative-siting arrangements are utilised... and why.

----- C. RESPECT

To respect and teach

- social/space boundaries with good grace, and

- bodily autonomy with determination.

It is insufficient to have a zero-tolerance for bullying policy as these discriminate against those who retaliate and are then caught, those who have poor timing, those who have less friends to vouch for their behaviour, those less able to communicate what happened, i.e. those autistic.

There needs to be no conflating of bullying with response to bullying - they must be kept separate and dealt with in isolation, in order.

----- D. SENSORY

To have taken somewhat into account any need for

- sunglasses-indoors,

- ear defenders at times,

- natural lighting,

- placement in respect of classroom speakers,

- placement in respect of wall hangings/art,

- seat positioning,

- extra toilet-breaks without permissioning,

- leave to do laps of playground in sight,

- movement needs,

- fidget devices,

- stimming and doodling provision,

- assistance with transitions,

- library access at playtimes or equal,

- extra time for comprehension,

- signalling inability,

- informed counsellors,

- early vocational counselling.

- etc.

To have each sensory difference signalled or identified then respected and access be given to remedy or easement/accommodation where not possible.


To have consequences for actions

- directly relatable,

- explained competently, and

- appropriately limited by developmental comprehension.

With no hint of punishment or reward (reward being another kind of punishment in itself!).


To recognise that anxiety is a killer for autistics and

- that immediate feedback is superior to end of term testing,

- that quietly addressing concerns is better than calling-out in public,

- that co-regulation is to be preferred over showing angst or impatience,

- etc.


To allow access to mobile technology for

- life organisation,

- emergency communication,

- unspoken communication,

- re-regulation,

- educational assistance, and

- other pro-regulation, pro-diversity, and pro-academic needs.

To allow for alternative 'working-out' for mathematics and non-disclosure of method if correct, for videoing of class presentations where possible, and for other less intense, tech-risch, or non-divulging routines.


To know autistic reality's basic such as

- the infinity between a tantrum and a meltdown,

- the infinity between signalling need/communication and attention-seeking,

- the infinity between masked 'pretend normie' personality and authentic autistic being,

- the infinity between autistic burnout and laziness/unwillingness,

- the infinity between scripted responses and real and free communication,

- the infinity between parental specialist concern regarding disability and parent over-worry concerning preciousness,

- etc.

----- I. HARMONY

To harmonise home/school approaches

- to significant challenges,

- to masking and camouflaging,

- to mounting pressures/anxiety reduction,

- to periods of low mood, 

- to grief and trauma,

- to performance expectations,

- to PDA demand levels of applicable,

- to unavailability and burn-out,

- to the need for a total break,

- etc. 


To have in place plans to protect an autistic from

- loud noises, 

- sudden interruptions of a sensory or routine-destroying nature,

- noisy environments, 

- harried environments,

- multi-tasking shocks, 

- violent pupils,

- unsuitable staff, 

- awful smells

- flashing lights, etc.


"No!" What are the consequences for a child who refuses what they believe they cannot do, or will not allow? 

Is "No!" seen positively as communication, or as disobedience?  If a child can never say "No!", what magical alternatives exist to keep a very different child in an extreme minority high-vulnerability setting... safe? 

Assertiveness has two sides, not one. Most Autistics respond better to clear, firm, logical, unemotional, single idea-laden communication in return.


Inclusion should be guaranteed to autistics, but remain optional for them to agree to, as forced inclusion is not equality - but mere force.  Compulsion and force disbenefit diversity, schools, teachers, parents, the disabled, and all pupils. 


To have school governors and boards, principals, missions, visions, charters aligned with the needs of diversity, difference, divergence, and disability also.  

This requires passion, responsiveness, inclusion, accountability, transparency, inter-communication, adherence, equality, no surprises, and a lack of dogmatism and means-justifies-ends bias, instead with love, light, learning, care, gentleness, and ultimate respect to the fore.


Some not all Montessori Schools, Bush or Forest Schools, Pastoral Schools, Outdoor Schools, Self-Directed Schools, Home-School Pooling, Autistic Specialist Schools, Affirmative Schools, Learning Disability Schools, STEM Academies, Unschooling, Shared Homeschooling, Micro-Schooling, Out-School/Street-School, Boutique Schools, Green Schools, Open Learning Zones, AGE Schools, Movement Schools, Denominational Schooling, Rote Schooling, Half-Day Schooling, Selling Your Children into Lifelong Bondage and Abject Slavery, Activity Centres, Study Support centres, Parent/Child Learning Centres, Virtual Schooling, Charter Schooling... all present trade-offs and variations that may or may not make a difference, each a separate case, with some requiring greater or lesser application of A to N above, and no doubt some invalid.  

~ ʎllɐǝɹƃ uɥoɾ

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