I was inspired today by some very down-to-earth discussion with the art department staff about autistic students /students with an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis (ASD); and how the staff can feel powerless or ignorant of the best ways to help their tutees: I want to make this my dissertation topic, and have a strong conviction that my work will be of use to teachers and students alike.
I’m interested in investigating the secondary schooling system, and how teaching individuals can empower (ASD) students, through art, to manage the new stresses they encounter in their daily lives. There are many issues involved for the ASD student in the transitional period from primary to secondary schooling which can cause them to act out or exhibit behaviour not uncommon for ‘rowdy’ or ‘naughty’ students; it is, however, entirely reactionary to their situation as a whole, rather than being a disruption for the sake of it.
I will be focusing on the ASD students already in a school population: therefore my research and discussion will not cover those children with more extreme forms of ASD, children more likely early diagnosed/ institutionalised /supported appropriately. I will be focusing on the more Neurotypical-passing, and even undiagnosed ASD students.
In this context, the idea is to use art (and my own experience) to enable the development of a skill base (of the student’s choice) practicable in a quiet refuge (a low-stimulus environment such as an art department, library, or study room). This affords an ASD student a tactile, manual, possibly repetitive, and immediately rewarding task which they have chosen themselves as an escape, but also is a step towards making their schooling in general a more positive experience.