I applied for the course for a number of reasons. My background is a qualified nurse, I have worked long days, nights and weekends for the last number of years. I felt I needed a change in my career to suit my family life at home. I am a mother of three children and I would like to be at home with them more. I have gained a lot of experience working as a nurse and feel I have many qualities such as good communication skills, a caring nature and above all patience and understanding in order to work as a Special Needs Assistance (SNA). I would love to work with children with special needs and feel this course will help me gain the knowledge I need to help me achieve this.In this assignment I will discuss the characteristics of a child with Autism. I will provide general information about the disability and I will outline the impact of the disability on the child. I will highlight the importance of continuum of support, which is a problem-solving model of assessment and intervention that enables schools to gather and analyse data, as well as to plan and review the progress of individual pupils, (The Education System 2020). I will reflect on the needs of the child with autism. I will discuss how the role of the Special Needs Assistant (SNA) can provide effective support for the child. The role of the SNA is to provide additional adult support who can assist children with special educational needs who also have additional and significant care needs, Circular 0030/2014 (DES, 2014). “Children with autism show signs of significant disturbances in three main areas, deficits in social interaction, deficits in communication and repetitive patterns of behaviour or interests. These disturbances appear early in life and cause serious impairments in functioning”, (Lumen, 2019). Autism is a lifelong, developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and how they experience the world around them, The National Autistic Society, (2019). Autism, also called autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a complicated condition that includes problems with communication and behaviour. People with autism have trouble communicating with others, they have trouble understanding what other people think and feel. This makes it hard for them to express themselves, either with words or through gestures, facial expressions, and touch. People with autism have difficulties in social development, for example lack of eye contact, they have difficulties in language which means they could be verbal or non-verbal, they may be able to read a book but not ask to go to the toilet. They have difficulties in cognition which means they may have difficulty in understanding, for example they can say the cooker is hot but do not understand that it may burn if they touch it. They may struggle with motor skills and may have difficulty with sensory issues like smell, taste, vision, and touch. “If you are Autistic you are Autistic for life it is not an illness or disease that can ever be cured”, (The National Autistic Society, 2019). The characteristics of ASD can vary from person to person. The traits of ASD can be divided into three main groups. They are social interaction, social communication and social imagination. A child with ASD find it hard to relate to other people. They may seem distant or detached, have little or no interest in other people, find it difficult to make friends or prefer to spend time alone. “If it is social communication difficulties, they may have difficulty using verbal and non-verbal skills”, (Roache L.A, 2019). Those who do not speak may use speech in an over complicated way using odd phrases or odd choices of words. They have difficulty expressing themselves, understanding gestures, or understanding instructions. If it is social imagination related children with ASD may have limited imaginative play, or play the same games over and over again, may get upset if their daily routines are interrupted in any way or show repetitive behaviour such as hand flapping or spinning, (HSE 2019). Individuals with autism have sensory challenges like hyper (over) or hypo (under) sensitivity of the five senses. “They have abnormal responses to the senses”, they have a lack of response to pain or over reaction to something minor like a door closing” (Shine 2019). Autism is now replaced with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) with all its previous subtypes included these are Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, High Functioning ASD. People with autism might have problems with learning. Their skills might develop unevenly. For example, they could have trouble communicating but be unusually good at art, music, math, or memory. Because of this, they might do especially well on tests of analysis or problem-solving. More children are diagnosed with autism now than ever before. But the latest numbers could be higher because of changes in how it’s diagnosed, not because more children have a disorder. “It is four times more common in males”, (Flood 2013).Interventions for children or adults with autism can involve behaviour treatments, medicines or both. Many people with autism have additional medical conditions such as sleep disturbances, seizures, and gastrointestinal distress, (Autism Speaks 2019). Medications can not cure autism but can help with related symptoms such as anxiety or depression. Antipsychotic medications are used to treat sever behavioural problems. As quoted by Dr Crawford, “It is not about fixing the individual with Autism, it is more about educating the people around the person with Autism”, (Crawford 2019). Behavioural treatment includes floor time, occupational therapy, pivotal response treatment, (PRT) this is play based and initiated by the child. It is based on the principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), goals of this approach include development of communication and language skills, increasing positive social behaviours, relief from disruptive self-stimulatory behaviours. Each PRT programme is tailored to meet the goals and needs of the individual person and his or her daily routines. Children with ASD will therefore require direct teaching of social signals and conventions, such as responding to their name as an attention-alerting signal, turn-taking skills, the timing and dynamics of social interactions, the concept of sharing, the capacity to classify and respond to pertinent information, and the modulating of levels of arousal (Jordan, 2005). Successful inclusion requires the ability to socialize and participate in a variety of interactive tasks, these deficits must be addressed”, (Goodman & Williams 2007, p. 58). There are several ways that this can be done. One way would be for the teacher to encourage this social engagement. They can do this by asking questions throughout their instruction and facilitate the responses through prompting. Providing choices is also a beneficial way to include a child with autism during social activities. The individual with ASD usually engages well in activities of interest to them (Wing, 2002). However, in activities that are not motivating to the individual, the attention span can be short. By being given choices the child will know what their options are, without having to choose from too many objects. For example, give the child the choice of using a marker or pencil when colouring, also give them the chance to choose what activity or game to play and for the other children to join in, this enhances social interaction. SNA support is provided specifically to assist recognised primary, post-primary and special schools to cater for the care needs of pupils with disabilities in an educational context where the nature of these care needs have been outlined in professional reports as being so significant that a pupil will require adult assistance in order to be able to attend school and to participate in education, Circular 0030/2014 (DES, 2014). Children with autism may need support for significant additional care needs both primary care needs and secondary care associated tasks. Primary care needs which would require SNA support may include assistance with feeding, as a SNA I could assist a child using hand over hand technique to prompt them. Administration of medicine, as a SNA I would prompt the child to take medicine at the correct time and observe them doing this, as long as I have been given the appropriate training beforehand. Assistance with toileting and general hygiene, as a SNA I would remind the child to go to the bathroom depending on the child I could use photographs, pictures or words to show them for example trousers down, then up, flush toilet and then wash hands. Assistance with mobility and orientation, as a SNA I could assist with going from one classroom to another, or in the yard at break times to ensure there are no hazards around. Assisting teachers to provide supervision in the classroom, playground and school grounds, adapting a buddy system, the transition from one class room to another or to the playground. Care needs requiring frequent interventions withdrawal of a pupil form a classroom when essential, as a SNA my role is to remove the child when necessary if they are feeling anxious or overloaded, the teacher may allow them to have a time out card or pass to indicate they are feeling anxious and need to leave the room, I can take them to a quiet place for this. Assistance with severe communication difficulties, as a SNA under the direction of the teacher I could provide support to the child using assistive technology equipment, typing or handwriting. Some of the secondary associated tasks that require SNA support are, preparation and tidying of workspaces and classrooms, as a SNA I could assist the child to get their class books and pencils ready, help them tidy their work space after them, to help them display work, to assist with tidying up after. Assistance with development of the Personal Pupil Plan, under the direction of the teacher as a SNA I could assist with the development of an individual plan for the child, include what I would do to support the child and help create personal independence. Assist the teacher in maintaining a journal, as a SNA I could assist with planning and preparing school files relating to the care and assistance the child would require in class. My role as a SNA is to remove the challenges and barriers the child has to help make their day easier. Planning for activities and classes, as a SNA if the child had to go to speech and language therapist, I would ensure she attends the class bringing them to and from the class. Assistance to attend or participate in out of school activities, as a SNA if the class was going on a school outing I would assist the child to go, I would prepare in advance telling the child where we were going and what would be involved, depending on the child maybe take a trip to the place a few days before showing them what would be involved with guidance from the teacher and parents, I would also make sure we had the parents numbers with us in case they needed to be contacted. Not all secondary care associated tasks require SNA support, only if they are allocated on the basis of the primary care tasks, (DES, 2014). It is important in my role as a SNA to be a positive influence on the child. Using the SMART approach, I can use realistic and achievable goals to help me reach my potential as an effective SNA and ensure the child reaches their full potential.On reflection of this assignment I have learned and gained a clearer understanding of Autism. The daily challenges people with Autism and their parents face and sometimes the lack of support for them, simple things like loud noises and bright lights and the effect this can have on them. I have learned patience, understanding, and compassion are vital in my role as a SNA, autism teaches us there is no right from wrong. “It takes a village to raise a child, it takes a child with autism to raise the consciousness of the village” (Hall E). I have learned how important it is that, the parents of a child with autism are actively involved in many of their discussions and decisions, they should be listened to, so they can continue to support the child throughout school life and after. Parents know their children best and have important information about their child which can contribute greatly to the learning and teaching process. The transition from primary to post primary school, and the importance of being included. Inclusion refers to the opportunity for persons with a disability to participate fully in all of the educational, employment, consumer, recreational, community and domestic activities that typify everyday society, (Inclusion International, 1996). It requires schools to respond positively to all pupils as individuals, it is important for staff to have relevant training and professional development. The benefits of it being in place is it alters the attitudes of other children in class, it gives the child opportunities to develop friendships.The statutory framework for the education of children with special educational needs is set out in the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN) Act (2004). The EPSEN Act’s purpose includes the aim that children with special educational needs should be educated, wherever possible, in an inclusive environment and that those with special educational needs should have the same rights to appropriate education as children without special educational needs. I feel more confident in fulfilling my role as an SNA and to deal with the challenges they face, my research has helped me to deal with this. As quoted by Dr Stephen Shore “If you met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism”, (Shore 2006).