Our approach to autism
Many autistic people need practical support to help them overcome challenges placed on them by a society which often fails to recognise or accommodate their needs.
Our approach is rooted in the understanding that autism is an integral part of who a person is, not a disorder to be treated or suppressed so that the autistic person can present as more ‘normal’. Rather, support needs to be centred on the autistic individual’s needs, strengths and interests.
Support should build upon the individual’s interests and talents and enhance their self-esteem and sense of self-worth. We provide young people with the tools, skills and confidence to enable them to take control over their own lives. This process should start from their earliest years and should be the terms of reference by which the quality and impact of support are measured
In March 2017, St. John’s received an Autism Accreditation from the National Autistic Society. We are now working towards the Advanced Autism Accreditation.
What is Autism Accreditation?
Autism Accreditation aims to set and encourage high standards of provision for autistic adults and children, based on a personalised model of support. While methods should be evidence-based and reflect what has been shown to have had positive outcomes for autistic people, the research has also shown that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach and therefore, it is essential that approaches are tailored for the individual.
Click here for more information on autism accreditation and best practice.
Alexandra Harris - Autism Lead
I joined St. John’s in 2005 as a learning support worker, and took my teacher training qualification at the University of Brighton.
I have worked in a variety of roles, including tutor, teacher, pathway leader, head of learning and vice-principal. In 2017, St. John’s was awarded Autism Accreditation status by the National Autistic Society. In my role, I oversee and work with our therapy department across the college and residential services. We are dedicated to providing best autism practice and are working towards gaining Advanced Autism Accreditation status. I am responsible for St. John’s autism training. I am the Autism Education Trust’s Lead Trainer for Brighton & Hove and qualified as an Intensive Interaction Coordinator in 2016. In 2021, I achieved a distinction in a Master of Education in Autism at the University of Birmingham. I am studying for a PhD in Psychology at the University of Sussex. My research is investigating the experiences of autistic learners who display extreme demand avoidant behaviours which impact on their education, exploring how we can reduce learners’ anxiety levels and increase their access to learning.