Course launched for adults working outdoors with autistic children

The Outdoors Group will be organising training for working outdoors with autistic children

The Outdoors Group will be organising training for working outdoors with autistic children - Credit: The Outdoors Group

Coinciding with National Autism Awareness Week, an alternative education provider has launched a training course for people working outdoors with children and young adults with autism and neurodiversity.

The ‘Autism Outdoors’ course from The Outdoors Group is designed to encourage best practice for teachers, teaching assistants and outdoor educationalists. It will initially be held at Exmouth Forest School.

The course has been developed by Seamo Teare, a qualified forest school leader specialising in autism, neurodiversity and sensory differences. He believes there’s a gap between teachers and teaching assistants working with learners with autism indoors in mainstream education and those working with them outdoors such as forest school workers and play workers.

Seamo said: “Those already working outdoors have the enthusiasm and practical skills but often no formal training, whilst those indoors, like TAs, have had training but aren’t always confident about taking it outdoors. With this course we’re looking to close the gap so both have equal skills and understanding.”

It’s estimated that around one in 100 children in the UK has autism – yet while there are plenty of good quality courses on the condition, none of them focuses solely on the outdoor environment.

Seamo said the outdoors concept has been trickling through into mainstream education.

He added: “Especially after the lockdowns, many schools have been rethinking their whole school plan to include greater use of outdoor spaces, investing in outdoor classrooms and mini forest schools.

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"While this is ideal for most learners, without appropriately trained teachers and teaching assistants, for those with autism this can be as challenging as a classroom.”

Autism Outdoors takes place over four days, ideally in woodland or potentially within a school’s grounds or wildlife corner.

Topics range from sensory and play rich environments, therapeutic spaces for extreme demand avoidance and auditing the outdoor area, to guidance on ways of taking learners with autism outdoors in a safe, engaging and beneficial manner.

Completion of the practical course and required coursework results in a Level 3 Autism Outdoors Qualification.  

For more information, visit https://www.outdoorsgroup.co.uk/autism-outdoors/

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