Pooky Ponders: What is autistic masking and why does it matter? | Jodie Smitten

In today’s episode I’m in conversation with Jodie Smitten, an expert in autism and we explore the question ‘what is autistic masking and why does it matter? Jodie also wrote an on demand course on autistic masking to follow up this podcast. We have a growing range of courses about autism.

Listen and watch below and scroll right down for the transcript.

Listen here:

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Further Resources:

Understand Autistic Masking – on demand course

Promote Emotional Regulation in Autistic Children – on demand course

Why are so Many Autistic Girls Missed in School? – on demand course

Further courses related to autism

Transcript:

Please note that the transcript is auto generated

Pooky Knightsmith: Welcome to Pooky Ponders, the podcast where I explore big questions with brilliant people. I’m Dr. Pooky Knight Smith. And I’m your host in today’s podcast. I’m in conversation with Jody smitten, an expert in autism, and we explore the question. What is autistic masking and why does it matter?

It’s a bit more powerful when people introduce themselves. So would you mind introducing yourself to my network? Who are 

Jodie Smitten: you? What are you doing? Ah, okay. So yes, I’m Jodie Smitten. Um, I am a parent first of all to three children. Uh, one is, um, formerly identified as autistic, uh, another one’s awaited assessment.

Um, secondly, I, um, a. Professional working with families in the [00:01:00] wheelchair area. Um, I’m an independent practitioner, so families can self refer to me and, um, sadly have to self-fund most of the time. Uh, so I, what, in the field of autism, since I was 17, where I literally just got thrown into the deep ends, um, applied for a job in a, um, what I thought was just advertised as a children’s home at the time, um, went for an interview and then got invited to the, to the home, to sign contracts and was faced with a whole bunch of children who I’d never experienced before that had complex, um, medical needs and complex learning disabilities.

And so there was lots of autism in with that. And, um, actually a couple of the managers there, I think took one, look at me as this very. Small 17 year old and said, we’ll give her two weeks. Um, and actually I continued working there throughout my university years. I’d [00:02:00] come back and work, and I just found the whole subject of autism fascinating.

And, um, the different types of communication that these children were using, um, really fascinating. And so that’s where my interests sort of really started. Uh, I’m sort of my whole jobs, my whole Mo career. So it been a bit of a fluke actually I’ve fallen into various different jobs with, um, mainly the vulnerable teenagers for a long time youth offending teams, um, engagement, uh, worker role, uh, and built up an amazing network of colleagues in doing that, uh, about,

I suppose when my eldest daughter was around five or six, we started to notice that she was struggling. And we started to notice that after school she was becoming quite distress. Um, some of the behavior was really quite difficult for us to manage and be in a psychology background. I was doing quite a lot of research as to what’s going [00:03:00] on for her.

We were going to parents evenings where, where they were literally saying she’s a dream student. If I could have a whole class of her, I’d be a very happy teacher. And so something wasn’t quite, I do not for us. So it took me a lot of, um, research, uh, because she wasn’t presented in the way that I knew autism.

Yup. So that didn’t actually cross my mind for a really long time. I was looking at children. I was looking at possible trauma. I was very much blaming myself for possibly a fault with our parenting or different things. And then I just stumbled across an article, um, where she just takes every single box, uh, an article about autism in girls.

And, um, I felt really sad. I felt really upset initially. And my husband found me quite upset and was like, but the, actually, if she’s autistic, surely like you’re the perfect parent because you know what you’re doing. And I was like, okay. So for a long time, we, [00:04:00] you know, we sort of were gathering more evidence and we realized that yes, she was autistic.

And we started tusk, started very much changing our approaches to how we parents had her. And we got her to a really good place at home. Uh, school was still always difficult for her and she was coming home and having quite big meltdowns and we just. Realize that we need something more. We were quite naive.

We sort of like, well, she doesn’t need to be assessed because we know what we’re doing. So why does she need, um, to be formally identified? And then when we did decide that she needed to formally identify, we had a bit of a battle. So, I mean, all these years from the moment we realized to, um, trying to get her assessed, autism was so much my special interest, particularly autism, um, with children that don’t have a, uh, intellectual disability children who don’t necessarily present in a very outward manner.

Uh, children that mask. So children like me. Yeah. So it, it, it just, it just [00:05:00] became my special interest. It was, I, I was literally reading, reading, reading. I’d naturally sort of became more independent in my work as time went on, um, with a colleague who’d offered me some contracts, family support work mainly on children’s behavior.

So it just, it just naturally flourish. That word just got around the, the, uh, I could support children who were autistic or children that were struggling with behaviors. Um, I felt after some time that I needed to actually do a qualification to back up the work that I was doing and started at Sheffield Hallam university last year and had just completed my postgraduate certificate in autism and Asperger’s syndrome with Dr.

Luke Bearden. And that’s just. For me, it’s given me that confidence in who I am and what I do and what I’m preaching. So I feel much more confident, um, supporting families, advocating for families and children. Um, [00:06:00] and here I am 

Pooky Knightsmith: rewind slightly to like right at the beginning, when you described who you were and you will face told a million stories when you use the word professional yourself and you just missed yourself entirely in the way that you said it.

Tell me more about that. What this feels like. There’s an uncertainty here. 

Jodie Smitten: Um, yeah, I suppose I’ve been questioned. I I’ve been questioned by, um, professionals who I deem to be. I have a high status, I suppose, same CO’s, um, head teachers about the work that I’m doing. Um, I think I’m trying to put a very different view out there of things.

And I think some people find that quite difficult. Um, I suppose sometimes I’m going into schools, advocating for child and asking for things that aren’t the mainstream, that aren’t the norm that go against the policy sometimes. So 

Pooky Knightsmith: like what, what kinds of things [00:07:00] are you advocating for those 

Jodie Smitten: things? So things like, okay, well, this child shouldn’t be made to sit in assemblies because they can’t process that much information.

They find it incredibly uncomfortable, sat on a hard floor. Crosslegged um, they. Uh, really distressed by the, the feeling of the touch of somebody close by. So they’re not actually taking anything in any way. So what’s the point of them being sign assembly, other than, you know, the only result is no lead in and additional stress.

So, you know, basically saying this child needs something different, um, going against the grain sometimes produces a bit of backlash. Is that 

Pooky Knightsmith: because everyone’s all about inclusion and wanting children to access everything or what’s the, 

Jodie Smitten: Oh, I don’t know. I don’t know ever. It’s more about, I mean, I’ve actually had it said to me when I’ve talked about, um, particular children that I’m working with needing a bespoke curriculum.

So I talked a little bit about autistic children needing, um, a [00:08:00] different, additional emotional curriculum as part of their mainstream. Education. And I was actually taught by Senco, but this is a mainstream school, which was shocking. Um, so it’s maybe it’s because some schools have got large numbers of students, so they haven’t got the resource for one child to be out if everybody else is in, um, you know, most of the time it does boil down to resources and funding.

Pooky Knightsmith: And in this is your working with children who are perhaps masking. And, you know, that was the whole kind of reason for coming into this conversation was about, you know, autistics who mask. Um, yeah. So, I

Jodie Smitten: mean, that is particularly difficult for the children that master get these adjustments because in the eyes of the people that see them in school, they don’t have, they don’t have any difficulties.

So why would you put adjustments in for a child that doesn’t have any difficulties? So that’s. Let’s just define 

Pooky Knightsmith: masking a moment. I’m just [00:09:00] aware. Not everyone will know what we’re talking about, so let’s do that. And then I will.

Jodie Smitten: Okay. So, um, masking is the, I feel like there’s two aspects of it. So part of it is a suppression of distress, which is what I see a lot in the church children I work with.

So the suppression of that difficult emotion where they just hold it all in. Um, if the lights are too bright in school, if they’re distressed through noise or through friendship difficulties, whereas some children will outwardly say I’m finding this tricky or, um, for children that Marcy won’t. They won’t express that, but then there’s also the social camouflage in aspect of skin where children will put on a performance and act to basically try and fit in with their peers or with whatever group they’re amongst.

So they will mimic people around them. They might, they might copy mannerisms speech. I worked with lots of [00:10:00] children that very easily pick up accents of people around them. So they might start to mimic a particular accent of somebody they’re spending a lot of time with. Uh, we know that all children have a desire to be like their friends and fit in at a certain age.

Uh, but actually for these children, it’s a whole nother level. It’s, um, it’s a constant, um, focus on what’s going on around them and ensuring that they blend into that and ensuring that they’re not in any way standing out from the crowds. So, um, it’s exhausting and it’s constant. Why is it exhausting?

Because I constantly trying to concentrate on the people around them. They’re constantly trying to work out the communication. They’re trying to work out what they should be saying next to fit in with the crowd. They might be really focusing on, um, what other people are saying and trying to mimic that.

So it’s very difficult. And at the [00:11:00] same time, they’re also trying to keep up with the conversation. So if a group of peers are talking about football, they’re trying to figure out what everybody else is saying so that they can mimic that, but also learn from the conversation as well. So they can fit in better next time.

Uh, so it’s, it’s exhausting. It’s, it’s tiring, it’s constant. Um, and also if we, if we put that together with the suppression of emotions, they’re not actually able to say I’m finding this really tricky. Could you just talk one at a time or actually the wind’s blowing on my face. And that makes it really difficult for me to follow any of this, uh, or actually I’m freezing cold and I don’t like standing outside at playtime.

So there’s, so there’s so many dark dimensions that are really, um, playing against each other and making it particularly difficult for an autistic child. 

Pooky Knightsmith: And this is something that you’ve obviously done quite a bit of research about and written about, and [00:12:00] it’s really sparked the interest within my network, which is why I couldn’t wait to talk to you about it.

And I wondered, obviously, I think you said that your blog posts that you wrote about it, which, um, lots of people have read. And I think you said that was based on a longer piece of work, your research and how did you, how did you decide what you needed to share more widely, what people needed to know and what we hoping to achieve when you put that piece of work out there?

Jodie Smitten: Uh, so

I I’m quite passionate about the concept of mask and being out there because for me, I work with many, many children that are, uh, trauma from their experiences, um, of Moskin. And also then that obviously leads on to needs not being met. I worked with children that are going to be on incredibly long journeys to [00:13:00] overcome some of that mistrust in adults, around them, um, to overcome some of the trauma that that’s caused.

Uh, I work with children who at very young ages are suicidal, who are self-harming. Um, they have the most incredible families that are supporting them and supporting their needs. But for six hours a day, they are going into an environment that very much goes against their neurology. So it’s the school, sorry, not necessarily, you know, I think actually not even, not necessarily a lot of the time.

No. Um, it’s. So there’s various different, again, various different dimensions of it. There’s, there’s not enough training. There’s not enough compulsory train training in my opinion, for teachers, um, around autism [00:14:00] in general, but particularly around Maskin. In fact, I don’t know of any particular training around and I put it into all of my webinars because I think it’s important, but I’m not sure there’s anything specific about Moskin sorry.

Pooky Knightsmith: So just, just an aside, everyone, just, just hang on a moment. So would you be happy to run some, uh, you know, would you run some live webinars on, on masking if people are interested in learning more and using that? So, yeah. Yeah. Most definitely. You know, what, what does that kind of look like? What do people need to know?

Because there will be people watching this saying, gosh, maybe I have unintentionally caused trauma and there are children here you’ve said their children’s self harming or who were suicidal because of trauma they’ve experienced, which is presumably not. Intentional. It’s just getting it wrong. 

Jodie Smitten: Um, so what, yeah.

So what do they need to do? So firstly, they need to listen unbelief parents, um, the, the most common thread through all of the messages and emails and comments that I’ve received from parents is that [00:15:00] we’ve tried, we’ve tried to be can to the GP. We’ve tried to be can to school, school say it’s a problem at home because they’re not seeing anything there.

Um, we’ve been put on parenting courses that aren’t appropriate for supporting an autistic child. Um, so firstly, it’s about, it’s just about having that trust in relationship between schools and parents and also parents. Um, schools need to bear in mind that if they are dealing with a possibly autistic child, they’re also working alongside a possibly autistic adult.

So they need to be aware of the differences in how that parent communicates and, um, And that that can sometimes be misconstrued as a neurotic, neurotic overanxious parent. Um, and actually having a child who is really struggling at home that isn’t having their needs met in school, causes a parent to become quite anxious.

So it’s, it’s being aware of that. It’s being aware that if a parent is coming to you saying, this is how my child is present in our home being [00:16:00] curious, being nonjudgmental about that, having, um, so, so quite often as part of what I do with families is I’ll go in and do observations in schools, on a child.

And I’m having one set of eyes on a chart for a period of time is so insightful. Just being able to have that whole focus, a teacher’s unable to do that. She’s got a class of 30 plus, um, It might be that she’s missing some of those signs that our child is struggling. Uh, if, if they’re masking, it might be that the signs are really, really subtle.

It might be that the signs aren’t even there. Um, it might be that the child has, has learned to only be, um, show in some of those STEM in distress, in, uh, signs of distress behaviors when the teacher’s not looking. So for example, I see children that are constantly swinging their legs under the table or the children that are constantly needing to shop in their pencil just to [00:17:00] get up and move, to regulate themselves, um, children that are always asking to go to the labor inconvenient times of the day.

Um, Children that are constantly biting their nails, twiddling their hair. So can you explain 

Pooky Knightsmith: stemming for anyone who might not 

Jodie Smitten: know stimulatory behavior? Is it a behavior that a child or an adult uses to regulate themselves to help themselves feel calm? So actually all people STEM to some level, we all might sit and buy our nails from time to time or play with a pen or, um, for autistic children.

There’s a stereotypical looking STEM. So that, that, that child that maybe jumps and flaps, um, for a child that mosques or for a child that’s less outward in their autism presentation, those signs can be a lot more subtle. Sometimes it can be they’re very [00:18:00] typically looking. So, like I said about the child that sits twiddling with their hair or the child that sits playing with a pen.

So this is why it’s important to listen to parents because. It’s almost piecing together the various different bits that are being seen in different areas. And what does that, what does that look like when you put that all together? When you bring all that information together? It’s actually another thing to mention important to mention is that sometimes children mask everywhere.

So I’ve worked with parents who, um, have come to me concerned about their child’s anxiety that seem to come out of nowhere. And what we actually have discovered is that that child has been Moskin throughout their whole life at home and at school and the pressure and the exhaustion has got so much that [00:19:00] they then hit a brick wall and then everything falls apart very, very suddenly.

Um, and so almost like. It’s just come out of nowhere. That actually has been sitting under the surface for a really, really long time. And nobody’s noticed it. And, uh, that is obviously really difficult for a family. It’s really difficult for parents to, um, get their head around that and come to terms with that.

So it’s not just in school that children mask it’s, it can be any way it can be out and about. It can be at parties. It can be at sleepovers, it can be on play dates. It can be in the park at UNM. Um, for most of the children that I work with, it seems to be quite instinctive and sub conscious, but actually, so some of the older children I work with

are actually able to. Sure. Um, when you really unpick [00:20:00] it and explore it with them, they are able to say, well, this is what I would do at home, but this is what I would do at school. So I quite often do an activity with children where we talk about, um, how you, what you might be doing or how you might be behaving or what you might look like if you were angry, sad, happy, excited.

And when it comes to talking about these things, I always talk about home and not at home or home in school or home, and with friends and these children can very much describe how they would, um, respond to a trigger at home in comparison to how that might look if they were in a different setting, some children are really, um, Very good at that, but wouldn’t necessarily know that that’s, um, that’s never been labeled for them.

They’ve never been told, or this is because you are masking and this is why. And I think it’s really important for the children that are able to, um, [00:21:00] comprehend that for them to have that level of understanding about themselves, because that’s important for them managing life going forward. Why would some children 

Pooky Knightsmith: mosque in some situations, but not others?

What would lie beneath that? 

Jodie Smitten: Um, I suppose some children are more aware, so some children more aware of, um, their differences, some children I’m more inclined to want to fit in. They, they, they want, they want to be, um, Yeah, they just, they just want to fit and they want to blend some children. I work with have quite high levels of social anxiety, so they will be fearful of any responses that they get.

Sometimes this has been bought on by responses that they’ve had in the past. So maybe they they’ve, um, jumped in flipped in the past and somebody has made a comment and said, Oh, well, what are you doing? Or, or laughed, or, and so that [00:22:00] brings about the social anxiety. Um, so some of it is about early early experiences.

And actually, I think I wrote about it in my blog, how actually adults are not brilliant, not responding positively to differences, you know? Um, and I talked about my son who’s, who’s got really long hair and the amount of comments that he’s had about his long hair, where you need to go and get your haircut, you look like a girl.

And, um, and that actually for when it’s family members, now I tell them off and I say, stop saying that to him. Um, He’s petrified at the hairdressers. Why should he sit through a haircut that makes him feel really distressed? Just because of everybody else’s thoughts about how he works. Um, but actually the more he hears that at a young age, the more he’s then going to feel like, well, this is how I look is wrong in some way, or it causes me to, to receive comments and attention that I really am uncomfortable with.

[00:23:00] Pooky Knightsmith: How do people respond when you challenge them on it? 

Jodie Smitten: If it’s family, they just know to be quiet. 

Pooky Knightsmith: Sorry about my cat. Do you think it changes how they, they actually kind of think and feel, do they just know that while this is a taboo?

Jodie Smitten: I suppose it depends on how much, um, how in depth I go. Yeah. So if I’m just to say. They don’t say that. And then they might go a bit of a, to B um, if I was to say, go into the depth that I’ve just gone with you about how he finds it distressing, then yeah. It would reframe it for them. And then I’m, I’m. I love using the word, reframe, reframing behaviors, um, and differences to people in parents is massively empowering.

Pooky Knightsmith: Why is it empowering? 

Jodie Smitten: I mean, just my, it, it, it just makes people look at things in [00:24:00] a different way that one of the, I quite often talk about pace. I don’t know if you’re aware of pace parenting and, um, a lot of stuff by Dan Hughes about, um, being more attuned to your child and the C in pace. Tell us, cause again, you have to just assume, so do Google it for more information though.

This is going to be very brave, but pace parents in is being playful. It’s being accepting of emotions and the all emotions are okay and normal, and that we shouldn’t try and be little, our children’s emotions. We should just let them be, see as curious and E is empathy. It was about using that, um, in how you respond to your parents.

But curious as the one that I constantly bang on about with all parents, I’m like be curious, like, don’t be judgmental about your child’s behavior until you really know what’s going on for them. So when they’re acting in a way that maybe is making you feel, um, a bit cross or annoyed, or in a way that you’re thinking, this is a bit strange, it’s a bit unusual [00:25:00] rather than pointing that out to them, be curious, like, what is it, what is that behavior trying to communicate?

And I actually, I, I purposely wore this t-shirt today. I literally actually it’s, it’s just what we need to do in, in our parenting and an or in our teacher and or whatever setting we’re in, we need to be curious, or behavior is a form of communication or behavior has a, a function to the child. So there’s not just some kids that just naughty sometimes.

I don’t think so, might not have their opinion. If a child is acting outwardly, there’s a, there’s a need. Um, maybe it’s a need for connection, maybe, you know, attention seeker. And I hate the term attention seeking, but actually if a child’s attention seeking, they need attention. So it gives us some intention.

Um, I think the words, attention seeking has got a real stigma attached, which doesn’t make any, we all need, it needs attention. Maybe he’s going about it in the wrong way, [00:26:00] or she’s going about it in the wrong way or in the wrong way in your eyes. But if that’s the only way that the child knows how 

Pooky Knightsmith: and how does being curious help with this because it helps reframe.

Jodie Smitten: So if we can think, okay, let’s, let’s think of a scenario, um, a child that is trying to think of a really basic simple one. The child that is refusing to eat their dinner that evening. Maybe it’s a dinner that they might usually eat or so, okay. So rather than just assuming that that child is being difficult and we’re going to battle with them about that and insist that they sit at the table and that’s insists that they eat their dinner, we’re going to say, Hey, what’s, what’s going on.

This is something that you’d use Ashley is, you know what I mean? Let’s face it as adults. If we’re feeling down or depressed or low or anxious, some people will just go off their food. That’s the first thing that they’ll do. If that, with they’re feeling unwell, [00:27:00] they might go off their food. So as an adult, would we then want to be forced and battled into eaten a meal?

Or am I really not feeling up to it? So just being curious with your child and saying, Hey, what’s going on for you today? This isn’t like you feeling okay. Is there anything you want to talk about? Are you feeling unsettled, sad, upset, cross. Um, and just being curious about it, if your child then turns around and says, Well, actually something happened at school today and I feel really, really sad.

Then you can work through that with them. They’re then going to feel settled and then be able to eat their food. And that’s what you want it to do in the first place. If they turn around and say, well, actually I absolutely loads and had two seconds of, um, put in at lunchtime today. I’m in school. You might go, Oh, okay.

So maybe you’re just not hungry. So it’s just about, Oh, never assume. And that child’s just being difficult or just playing up and just being curious and you know, some children aren’t able to [00:28:00] articulate that and that that’s a whole nother subject as to how we work with that. But even just having that empathy and curiosity about your child’s can instantly make them feel more relaxed, more ease.

Somebody’s listening to me, um, and enable them to then manage what it, whatever it is, uh, that you’re asking them to do or, or manage whatever emotion it is that they’re dealing with. 

Pooky Knightsmith: And I guess this is when, you know, we can be curious when we’re seeing behavior that is kind of distressing or challenging or somehow different than what we’d normally expect, but the whole kind of entry point for this conversation was around masking.

When maybe that isn’t a particularly, you know, it almost, it’s the absence of that behavior that we need to be more curious about, but how do we do that? How do, yeah, this is tricky. You’ll set, you’re saying to us basically. Yeah, lots and lots of people are really, really struggling inside and they’re suppressing things and they are putting on a brave face essentially, and being on their best behavior and kind of pop passing as normal if you like.

[00:29:00] Um, and there’s not many signs for us to pick up on, so how do we help? 

Jodie Smitten: Okay. So if a parent is coming to you saying that this is what they’re saying, just being aware of masking and that, that could be a possibility thinking about whether that could be a possibility. Um, and then really, if you can get in the transport.

So in order to get the child’s true voice, they have to feel really, really safe. They have to be allowed to say things without judgment. They’re allowed to say things about teachers that they wouldn’t usually say without, without being told off. Um, They need to be in a really, really safe place to be able to do that.

Um, sometimes that needs to be somebody from outside of school. Somebody that needs sometimes there is that one person in school that they do have that trust with that needs to be with a parent. And, um, a parent is then able to share with the school what the child has said, maybe through a video maybe through, um, so quite a lot of the children I work with, we produced a [00:30:00] PowerPoint presentation.

So we’re going to do a PowerPoint presentation all about you. Wow. That’s older. The things that you love or the things that you’re really interested in. Okay. Tell school what you find difficult in school. Tell school what helps you? Well, we’ve already done quite a lot of work up to this point around really unpicking some of the difficulties that they’re having.

Um, and that journey can sometimes be quite a quick one. Sometimes it takes a bit longer, but, um, you know, laser kids love. To be doing things with computers, PowerPoints, and they make things come within in and they find pictures on Google images of their special interests and, you know, cover the whole presentation in dogs or like whatever it is that they really love.

Um, and then we simply email it to the school. Um, we simply say, can this be emailed around every single teacher that comes into contact with this child? This is what the child wants you to know. And it’s done in the child’s language has done in the child’s voice. Um, and it’s believed and it’s [00:31:00] like, okay, we didn’t know this is going on for you.

Thank you for telling us, thank you for, um, sharing this with us. We can, we can use this to help you. And actually one of the things that’s really nice about that is for the child. Um, to be able to provide that information actually lessens their anxiety. So it makes them instantly feel safer about going into that environment that they find tricky because they’re like, actually this person knows about me now.

I was never able to verbalize, I was finding this, finding this difficult. Um, but now that they know I instantly feel better. Is that 

Pooky Knightsmith: concern that they’ve been masking, whether that’s consciously or subconsciously for all that time. I mean, seemingly they’ve been doing that for a reason. Why is it not scary for them to kind of come out if you like about the way they’re thinking and 

Jodie Smitten: feeling massively scary.

Sometimes, um, we do that piece of work over a really long period of time, and sometimes we might only ever share that piece of work with one special [00:32:00] person within school, the person that they feel most safe with. Um, so there maybe that’s a TA or a particular teacher or whoever that may be, um, It is, you know, and it’s not a piece of work done in isolation.

So we might do lots of work around that, around, um, building self esteem, becoming more aware of their autistic identity and feeling positive about that self people might, some children might choose to initially share it just with a friend and before it goes any further, it’s not a, there’s no magic one quick fix it.

It’s always dependent on the child and where they’re at and how they feel. But I think it’s so helpful if, if the school receive that information and then act upon it and, um, validate it because then that instantly goes, okay, they’ve listened. They’ve really listened and that, and, and they’re going to respond to that said we need to do work around preparing 

Pooky Knightsmith: people to [00:33:00] respond appropriately, to make sure it is well received 

Jodie Smitten: or does is something that I would like to do.

Um, it’s, it’s about building a good relationship with a school and I do have that relationship with some schools, um, not so much others. It, but actually you have to. I always, whenever I start working with a family, I always say my gold standard is to work with you, to work with your child and to work with your child’s school, because actually we could do loads of work at home.

We could, we could really change the way that you respond. We could make sure that she’s getting lots of decompressing time and sensory breaks and actually it’s school on, on board. You still got a child that’s coming out of that situation, highly stressed, and inevitably at some point will melt down. 

Pooky Knightsmith: And is it sometimes the other way round?

Is it sometimes at school is on board and there’s maybe someone there who really gets it in the home or less attuned to it, or, um, 

Jodie Smitten: I suppose in, in my, in with my [00:34:00] case load, no, because parents come to me and they start off with the 

Pooky Knightsmith: cause you’re my parents. 

Jodie Smitten: So I suppose that could be different in, um, some cases or some cases, I suppose I might go into a family and mom’s contacted me or that’s contacted me and the other parent isn’t quite on the same page.

So sometimes we do a bit of work around trying to, um, bring parents together to, um, ensure that everybody is on the same page again, that, that depends on the family and where they are in that journey. And. 

Pooky Knightsmith: And you mentioned earlier in the conversation that if you’re working with an autistic child that you might be working with autistic parents say more about that.

Jodie Smitten: Yeah. So I mean, th there’s a genetic link with autism. Um, so I, I very rarely, um, meet an autistic child where [00:35:00] one of the parents, um, isn’t possibly autistic or can relate to the child and their child in some way. Um, I actually find that quite helpful. Uh, if a parent says to me, well, I can see why he struggled with that because, um, I struggled with XYZ ads.

Um, and I think I got possibly tried. Sometimes parents recognize that sometimes they don’t and I, and I just like, well, actually that’s brilliant become because you’re coming from a place of understanding straight away, you know, maybe. Your child presents differently to you in terms of their strengths and difficulties lie in different areas, but you have got a really amazing relatedness to your child, which means that you can really start to think about how your child may be feeling and, um, expressing themselves in different situations.

Pooky Knightsmith: So it’s actually a strength having an autistic parent of an autistic child rather than just a challenge. Yeah. I, 

Jodie Smitten: I [00:36:00] don’t, I don’t view it as a challenge at all. So it’s this interesting journey to go on. If you’re, if I’m away with a family, um, for a period of time, um, that as you start to have more and more conversations with a parent, you, you start to see the similarities and you can see that they’re starting to see the similarities.

And it’s some, you know, with many parents, I’ve got to the point where they’ve gone to me, Do you think Carl might be autistic and I’m like, yeah.

You to have that conversation and, um,

Pooky Knightsmith: for them to, yeah. I 

Jodie Smitten: mean, you have to judge it. Some people, um, have to come to that conclusion themselves. Other parents, I, I work with straight away and they’ll say to me, do you think I could be autistic? Um, and then we might have a discussion around that. Yeah. Uh, so I, yeah, I mean, I don’t, I don’t view that as a, as a challenge at all.

And do you encourage them 

Pooky Knightsmith: to go and [00:37:00] actually kind of seek a formal diagnosis and stuff if that’s the case or do you just work with them as if autistic and yeah, I mean, 

Jodie Smitten: I just worked with everybody as to where they are really, um, autistic or not, but some parents might say to me, I would like a formal assessment and I can talk to them about them.

Various routes. Um, some people will say to me, do you think it’s important for me to have, um, my autism formerly identified? Um, and we might talk through that. I think it’s, you know, some, some parents will ask me about their child and their child having assessments and in, you know, so many parents feel like they don’t want to label their child, um, which I, I really do try and get them again to reframe because actually you’re not labeling your child.

You’re giving your child an identity. You’re giving your child and understanding of themselves and you’re [00:38:00] giving your child access to a whole tribe of people that can make her feel welcome and supported and, um, and understand themselves so much better. And quite often, children that I work with at mosque, they’ve already labeled themselves.

They’ve labeled themselves. Um, unsuccessful, failings, stupid, um, lazy, uh, different, but in a bad way, we weird in a bad way. Um, so actually sometimes it’s about removing those labels and giving them the correct label and, and then working with them to feel really positive about it. 

Pooky Knightsmith: So it sounds like part of your work is around educating people about what autism actually is and means.

And seeing that this isn’t some kind of life sentence, but, you know, I, I dunno, I always think that there’s lots of, kind of super powers that come with autism. So it’s partly about being identified as in it, but not only can you identify with, with people and it gives you that sense of belonging finally, when maybe you felt outside of [00:39:00] things, but also that, um, there are real strengths.

Some of the things that can make autism a challenge are also the things that make us able to achieve amazing things, you know, and I look on my own career. I think some things I’ve done is because I have that very black and white and determined kind of thinking and that rigidity. Yeah, it’s difficult in some circumstances, but in others, it’s a 

Jodie Smitten: real gift.

Yeah. Yeah. And that’s pretty much what I preach to parents. Um, when we’re talking through, um, assessments and 

Pooky Knightsmith: I don’t assess now, do they, like, it’s not always standard. Some people just say, well, we’ll support as if autistic, but that the process is so long and slow or expensive, or what have you see some LEDs actually don’t even kind of go there now.

D-Day what’s that? 

Jodie Smitten: No, no, it’s, it’s difficult. I mean, technically a shot, a charge shouldn’t need a formal identification to have their needs met, you know, adjustments and, um, supporting schools should be based on need. But actually, um, if you’re looking at the possibility, trying to get extra funding and [00:40:00] resource for a child, we know that having that identification formal identification is really powerful.

It shouldn’t be that way. Um, but it is. It’s difficult now. I mean, in our area, you’re looking at a two and a half year wait for an assessment and that, that would be for lock down. So, um, it’s, it’s incredibly difficult. I always encourage parents. Sorry. Wow. 

Pooky Knightsmith: That’s a long time in a child’s life, long time in anyone’s, but sorry, you were going to say, you always encourage parents, 

Jodie Smitten: courage parents to attempt to get on the waiting list.

Um, sometimes at the stage that we’re talking, we feel like there’s maybe not quite enough evidence, um, to, to warrant an, um, uh, identification or diagnosis, but I will say like, you’re, you’re on the way. And it’s two and a half years, if two and a half, two and a half years time, we feel that actually [00:41:00] we’re barking up the wrong tree, um, which is usually unlikely.

But then we just put off the waiting list. Um, if we wait two and a half years until we’re pretty sure we’ve then got another. Wait another two and a half years. So is 

Pooky Knightsmith: there, um, uh, uh, you try and work out, what am I trying to say here? But, so my thinking’s, I’m thinking out loud here. Um, I work with a project called the peace pathway, which is about, um, recognizing, um, how best to support people.

Who’ve got a co-morbid diagnosis of, um, eating disorders or mainly anorexia and autism. Um, and part of that, um, project. Um, what’s happened is that lots of, um, clinicians who are not specialists the tool in, in autism, but are specialists in eating disorders and have learned to do the, kind of the, the simplified screening.

So like eight Dawson and stuff like that, um, in order to try and work out, which of their patients, because we know there’s a high prevalence in that, that we’re not recognizing it so that they can try and sort of yeah. Do a bit of [00:42:00] essentially an initial screen and try and work out who might be, um, benefiting from this particular treatment pathway.

Um, and I just wonder if that’s the sort of thing, you know, should it be that there should be someone in every school who’s trained in that kind of screening, even if it doesn’t give the full diagnosis, it gives us an idea that for this child, there’s a clear likelihood. I 

Jodie Smitten: mean, yeah, I think that would be massively helpful.

Most classes that I go into, I can. But I think the most recent statistics is one in 54 children. And I think, I think that’s a massive under-representation. I go into a class in most classes I go into, I see at least two children that I think would warrant an assessment if we class in every class, 

Pooky Knightsmith: because you were just looking for it.

I mean, is it, do you, do you really think,

Jodie Smitten: no, actually I genuinely do. Um, I genuinely do I see children that, okay. So maybe, maybe there are other conditions that present in a similar way, but either way, this [00:43:00] child needs an assessment. Um, so I think it’s, I think it would, it would be, um, a valid, uh, role within a school.

But I’m also very much an advocate for this child has a need. Who cares what it is? Who cares, what it’s called? Because actually, even if they’ve got an identification of autism, that doesn’t, that doesn’t mean we know what their needs are. No, that’s true. That doesn’t mean we Oh, okay. Well this child’s autistic.

So here we go. Here’s our, this is what we give to autistic children is the silver bullet. Yeah. Yeah. So actually, why, why do, why do we have to wait? Why don’t we work with this child? Why don’t we work with these parents and help them unpack what their difficulties are and help them on pick what their strengths are and work with where the child is.

Pooky Knightsmith: Okay. Yeah. That’s so important. So, so, but from what you’re saying, you said that the statistics are one in 54 and you reckon it might be like [00:44:00] as many as two per class. So that would suggest that maybe three and four autistic kids aren’t being picked up. 

Jodie Smitten: Yeah, but that night, no, you put it like that. It sounds really like a massive statement.

Pooky Knightsmith: I’ll tell you. I’m quite, I’m quite up for massive statements. I mean, I know that there’s a huge unrecognized need there. Yeah. And 

Jodie Smitten: I think there’s so many children that are set and under the radar. So I taught, I taught briefly about some, uh, a child that I spoke to. So a child in a class that I was in, um, I wasn’t directly working with this child, but I’d been in the classes sometimes.

And the children knew me quite well and, um, would come and chat. And, uh, one child that I, um, got chatting to one day we were talking, I talked to him about if he liked school, He’s like, yeah, yeah. I liked school and I was like, bro. So I don’t like getting ready for school. And I said, well, do you not? Why don’t you like getting ready for school?

And he just, he looked at me, he looked at me when I was just paying claims on isn’t it. Clothes are so uncomfortable. This is a [00:45:00] five-year-old. He had no idea that not every other person in his class finds putting clothes on so uncomfortable. These are the children that are going under the radar, um, because to him that’s, that’s everybody else’s experience.

Um, so it’s, it’s children like this, uh, that you, that you, you just wouldn’t notice. Um, and for me, early recognition of other child differences is so important. It’s so important for their self identity is so important for ensuring that we don’t hit that brick wall. Um, and that we don’t end up with anxieties around going into school or.

Um, you know, going out and about, so how are we going to fix it? Ooh, Jodi, how are we going to do I need a drink of water before I answer that one?

[00:46:00] How are we going fix it? I mean, I could provide you with a 5,000 word assignment about how I think it should be fixed. I mean, personally for me, if we were talking about Moskin and we were talking about how much it hinders, um, access to support and identification of autistic children. And also, I should probably mention that also children with ADHD mask.

Um, so if we want these children to be recognized, we want these children’s needs to be met. Then we have to mask and has to be common knowledge. It has to be out there. It has to be out there with GPS. It has to be out there with people that assess has to be out there with teachers, send CO’s, um, You know, even parents need to know, know that this there’s an aspect of certain conditions that mean that they don’t present.

Yeah. Um, the, and this is one of the reasons why I actually, um, [00:47:00] my, my Facebook page is called behavior support. I don’t like the word behavior, but actually I have parents come to me about the children’s behavior. They don’t recognize that as possibly being something more. If I call myself an autism specialist, there will be a whole host of people that wouldn’t access or wouldn’t think to approach me because they don’t recognize their children’s behavior.

As possible tourism. Yeah. Well, they don’t recognize their child’s. Um, after school Jekyll and Hyde phenomenon meltdowns, and they go to school in school, say, no, she’s fine here. He’s fine here. Um, and they instantly blame their parents and they would, which you 

Pooky Knightsmith: would, wouldn’t you, I get asked about this all the time.

Jodie Smitten: Yeah. So, um, I just think it needs to be common knowledge. It needs to be a common known aspect of, um, [00:48:00] of autism actually having my blog, um, shared around some of the most, um, I suppose can’t think of the word, but the most reassuring comments have come from people who I know have gotten no experience or knowledge or personal contact with the autistic world.

And, but they’ve read my blog and I’ve gone. Wow. That’s really cool. And I’m actually thanking them for taking the time to read something, but probably in their minds has no relation to anything that they do. Um, 

Pooky Knightsmith: are you doing so? I think so there’s a definite thing there that I would love to commission you to run a, like, as a minimum, a live learning sessions, so people can come if you up for it and you could teach them.

So we’ve covered a lot of it today, but I think doing a more, you know, a more, slightly more formal session and where people can come and interrupt if you were up for it would be really awesome. Um, and then I’m interested to know if you got kind of plans, are you writing more or what’s next? 

[00:49:00] Jodie Smitten: Okay. So a lot of my writing is actually being done at the moment alongside my daughter.

So my daughter is 11. Um, she was identified last year. Uh, and she talks amazingly about, um, Maskin and in her mind, she’s like simple. Like, this is what it is, how could anybody not get it? So she’s got a YouTube channel that she talks about various different things on, um, she’s a bit flitting with it. So sometimes she puts lots on there and sometimes not, but, but we in lockdown down decided to write a book, um, talking around, talking about the different experiences.

So she talks about her experiences of different aspects of her autistic life. Um, and from her viewpoint. And then, Oh, I talk about, uh, talk about that a bit more in depth and how that might look like for other children. Um, and, um, talk about the, a deeper insight into it, I suppose. And so we’ve got like a, uh, uh, piece [00:50:00] suitable for the child.

And then, um, a little bit more information for the adult. Um, We would love to have it published and we have actually submitted it to JKP. So I was going to say, definitely

that’s so much more that we could add to it. Um, that we, we sort of, we made a really good start on it and actually it could be a finished piece, but, um, I’m sure there’s so much more we could add to it. Uh, so I, um, I, I mean, this was my first blog and I got asked by I’m Libby Hill from smart talkers. She approached me after reading a report that had written for child that we were both working with.

Um, instead actually, could you, would you do a guest blog? And I was, I’ve never written before and she was like, Oh, you know, it’s quite, and I just went for it. So it’s a bit of a shock, I think, has been read, um, 8,000 times. How in? Wow. I’ve been up since Tuesday, so, um, and I loved writing it, so I [00:51:00] think. I mean, I really struggled right in academically.

I’ve really, I mean, um, Work in having Luke beard and supervise me is amazing. Uh, but academic started writing takes an awful lot. For me is a battle, a real, a labor of love. 

Pooky Knightsmith: I’m going to run my thesis and just basically having to put long words in it because that’s, what’s expected on two projects at the same time I was writing for the mind dead portal.

So like the online learning, um, and they wanted you to assume a reading age of about 12. So it was accessible to everybody. And I was writing my thesis at the same time and I just happened to get feedback on both on the same day. Cause I just generally write as me. And like one was like, you need to simplify your writing and don’t put more than eight words in a sentence or something.

And the other one was, um, we need to really add some more terminology. And then I was like, Oh, come on. Because actually the audience is the same it’s people, right? Yeah. Yeah. You and what you do and 

Jodie Smitten: academic rights in though, does it. Yeah, but I think there’s a question about reference written all over my [00:52:00] reassignments and I go, but I believe it.

I think it’s true. So why do I have to find somebody else that feels the same nice, 

Pooky Knightsmith: well, these kinds of platforms, you will find lots of people and yeah, I guess that’s it. You just have to think of who your audience are and what you’re trying to, what you’re trying to achieve. But yeah, this is another conversation for us to take offline, I think, but I would love to help them get your voice more hurt on the way we had loads of questions submitted.

And I’ve been, I’ve asked all the questions they fast. Some of them have, uh, we’ve maybe answered it, but let’s do a bit of a quick fire out on some of these questions. So we had, um, how can secondary school staff help children who haven’t had a formal diagnosis yet from Karen Kingston? 

Jodie Smitten: Okay. Um, yeah, I mean, I, I suppose we’ve sort of answered this really where we’re trying to meet need.

We’re not trying to meet, uh, um, identification. So work with that child, get her into a really trusted space, um, a really safe space and work with them to find out really, truly what their needs are. Yeah. So look and work [00:53:00] alongside the parent as well. So if the parent has said, actually she really struggles when we go into noisy busy places in school go, well, she, she seems fine.

Well, actually, no, don’t, don’t expect her to go on school trips where there it’s noisy and busy, even though she might look like she’s managing, um, she will, might need support in that area and she might need support with that trip or just, um, you know, an escape route if she needs it. So just don’t, um, just work with the child and work with the payer and in whatever applies at home.

We’ll also apply at school even if it’s not

Pooky Knightsmith: obvious. Yeah. Excellent. Terry cocaine said, can masking be so good that young people go through well into adult life before being recognized or diagnosed as autistic and how much damage can this cause, 

Jodie Smitten: I mean, sure. Yeah, absolutely. Look at all of the, um, late diagnosed autistic adults.

So, you know, as a whole, however many miss generations of autistic adults. [00:54:00] Um, so yes, definitely, um, damage, I think, um, I suppose that varies, uh, in terms of the damage that is caused. We know that there’s lots of, um, Misdiagnosed adults that have spent most of their adult lives within mental health services.

And there’s so much research on this. Uh, yeah, I mean, there’s so much misdiagnosis around, um, personality disorders and that maybe are misdiagnosed or have developed as a result of, um, not having needs recognized. Uh, so the damage can be, um, incredibly, uh, concern. And, you know, we know that there’s a high prevalence of suicide rates amongst, um, autistic people.

It’s a high predator prevalence of, um, premature death, free stress and chronic health conditions. So yeah, the research is there that very [00:55:00] clearly says the damage is happening. Isn’t it?

Pooky Knightsmith: Uh, anonymous. How many, or how often are masking behaviors, automatic, um, and your aware you’re choosing to shield behind them and sorry. Or are you basically I’m asking behaviors automatic or do you choose to show up behind them? We may be answered this a little 

Jodie Smitten: bit, but yeah. I mean, I think I, I mean, I’ve seen masculine children as young as three.

Um, I think I’ve actually seen an article recently that I keep meaning to go back to talking about a six month old that they think could have been so mascot behaviors, but I may have made that up. I need to check that out. Um, but yeah, for some children it’s, it’s, um, very instinctive, but then we have to consider whether maybe that instinctiveness comes from it.

Survival. Um, and it could, yeah. Survival method because actually, if I just blend in, nobody speaks to me and I actually find social interaction really difficult because people just fire random at me.

[00:56:00] Pooky Knightsmith: Yeah. So it’s that learned behavior? You just, you’re just saying about the six month old, just took me straight back to, um, my daughter, Ellie, when she first came to live with us.

So she’s adopted. Um, and when she first joined the family, she was about six months old. And then obviously she experienced a massive trauma cause the one place where she’d ever been her foster placement up till then, um, suddenly that was gone and she was with us and we did everything that we could for her, but she was in a completely new home and that was hard.

Um, and she was, you know, deeply kind of troubled as a small baby and she’s brilliant now, but it was difficult. And she spent most of her time crying and screaming and being deeply, deeply, deeply distressed at home, but you’d take her out. She has just the big smile and whenever anyone new would walk into the room, she was so, and everyone used to say, Oh, isn’t she lovely?

Isn’t she smiley? Um, and our kind of hypothesis around this was that she had been, um, living up till that point in a very busy foster home, beautiful, beautiful family. Um, a lady called Anne had been an amazing character. Um, but this foster home was generally for, um, [00:57:00] teenagers. And so there were different kids coming in and out all the time.

But what I kind of figured was maybe she had learned that when she smiled, when these kinds of big burly teenagers walked in, but actually she got a nice response from them. And so she continued to do it. I don’t know, it was just always a hypothesis, but it was always really marked the difference in how she was out and about and with new people then yeah.

With us. 

Jodie Smitten: Yeah. Yeah. You can see how it can easily become a learned behavior.

Pooky Knightsmith: Yeah, definitely. Okay. Next, um, So I think we’ve kind of covered this, but some local authorities in schools, state, they will not do private assessments on. Okay. So they won’t do private, they’ll only use an NHS diagnosis. What should parents do if 

Jodie Smitten: faced with that?

Okay. So I’ve been faced with this quite a bit, actually. And, um, it’s um, so there’s something in the code of practice that, um, send special educational needs, um, code of practice. And [00:58:00] if I remember from memory, because I, I work alongside, um, a lady who’s, um, amazing with SCN law and I’m sure it’s page 119 of the code chapters.

It talks about, um, how, as part of the process of assessing a child’s needs, that all reports have to be. Taking into account what’s helpful is if the practitioner that you you’re, the clinician that assesses, um, is registered with, um, the body that registers or health professionals, what was it called? I can’t remember, but they’ve registered with a professional body and that they are following nice guidelines or nice guy.

Nice recommendations. There’s the same code of practice. Again, it’s only a, it’s only a recommendation. It’s not a, it’s not a legally binding document. Um, but a really good website to look at. Um, is it CF? So I [00:59:00] P S E a  they are experts in law and rights and responsibilities, and they, I know, talk a lot more about this subject.

Um, it is very difficult. Local authorities are. A bit, some local authorities are a bit anti private, um, private diagnosis, private assessments, uh, in my opinion, they shouldn’t be, I was going to say an 

Pooky Knightsmith: identity waiting list and you can afford to go down the private route. Why would you not do that for your 

Jodie Smitten: child, for the people that are then not able to, to access a private rate?

So, um, yeah, just make sure that the clinician that you’re using is, you know, all the team of clinicians that you use are, um, professionally registered and with the right level of qualifications, most of the PE most of the private clinicians now have [01:00:00] worked within the NHS and then they go on pride, but they’ve worked within the NHS for years and years.

So you would hope that they would be recognized, but I know that it is, can be difficult, but, uh, my daughter has a, um, private, uh, diagnosis. And if anybody tried to. Argue it, I would probably, um, because it’s a very valid, um, and robust assessment and a fantastic rapport. Yeah. So it’s about really, it’s about really being really confident about your child’s, um, assessment, but then also having a little bit of law in a few places to back you up a little bit to support you.

But as far as I’m aware, particularly throughout the statutory assessment process for an EHCP, I’m pretty sure that the board have to look at everything that’s submitted. Doesn’t matter where it’s come from. Awesome. 

Pooky Knightsmith: That’s really helpful. And then, um, there’s a good question here, which actually talks to something we mentioned [01:01:00] earlier.

So, um, this is one saying, someone’s saying as a primary school, Senco special needs coordinator. Um, I find it difficult to talk to parents about their child, possibly having autism when they have no concerns, what would your advice be? 

Jodie Smitten: Um, I would probably go probably start off with talking about the child’s needs.

Um, Nessus, not necessarily talk about the autism, but this is what, this is what we’re seeing in your child, and this is how we’d like to support them. So coming at that angle, it’s not something I’ve got masses of experience of because obviously parents come to me with their concerns. So for me, it’s usually the other way round.

It can be, um, a difficult process and journey for parents to go on. Um, I think possibly, you know, like we said, because people’s views of autism are actually misinformed and incorrect. So do you ever upset when your daughter got her 

Pooky Knightsmith: diagnosis? [01:02:00] Didn’t you. 

Jodie Smitten: Yeah, I suppose for me where, so when I first discovered, when I read the article and was like, Oh, what are she?

She takes all the boxes. Um, I think I felt sad for how I didn’t want her to struggle. I think for you as a parent, you always want your child to have, um, to have an easy life, I suppose. And my, because she, I think because she was struggling so, so badly at the time, I was like, Oh my goodness, this means that my child is always going to find life a little bit more tricky.

Um, I don’t feel like that now. I feel like, wow, she’s going to have so many amazing opportunities because we are going to always allow her and support her with that. But, you know, w you know, you notice yourself, there’s, there’s always difficult patches. There’s always this big wide world out there that makes life a little bit more tricky.

Yeah. 

[01:03:00] Pooky Knightsmith: Absolutely. And then I’m going to, in terms of the questions here, so, sorry, not everybody maybe got their questions answered, but most, but there’s a couple who basically talked to this point of, um, if a child is masking as opposed to just kind of trying to fit in which he said most kids would try and do.

What are the things that we might pick up on? Are there any sort of subtle signs that, that might, uh, might identify that, you know, this is a child who’s struggling? 

Jodie Smitten: I would certainly try and do some, um, observations, um, the three observations of a child, uh, look out for, um, very subtle stimming behaviors.

And I would certainly encourage people to look at, um, there’s so much good stuff on YouTube, around STEM in and different types of STEM in, um, yeah. Do doing those. Those observations, but, but getting that child, if that child is able to get in that child to a safe place. So if a parent is coming to you and say, I’m concerned about my child, this is what we’re seeing in at, Hey, [01:04:00] get in that.

Child’s safe place to talk about that. So to pick some of that, I think you should be doing that. Whether you suspect autism or not, if you’ve got a parent coming to you, you know, bearing in mind, sometimes these parents were at crisis, but before they actually speak out to anybody, you should be straight away, Sam.

Right. Okay. Who, who, who will this child speak to? And it doesn’t necessarily have to be the same Senco or the mental health worker. It just needs to be who that child feels most safe with and feels, um, I’m most comfortable with. 

Pooky Knightsmith: Wow. But a lot of ground Jody, is there any question that I haven’t asked you or anything that you, you kind of want to say before we wrap 

Jodie Smitten: up.

Oh, no, I felt like I should make some big statement now. And I haven’t got one go ahead and fire off. Um, actually this is a bit naughty because this isn’t mine. This isn’t my work, but [01:05:00] this book by Dr. Luke Bearden, I recommend this to every single parent that I, um, work with. Every single family it’s really, um, accessible in that it’s only have seven pounds, so many economies in, and it’s so easy to read and it just sums up everything you need to know as a, as a parent or, or a teacher, um, in a really easy to read, like the way Luke writes is fantastic.

So highly recommend this. Um, and you know, if, if you are a teacher, if you work at the school, if you’re a TA, please just, um, Really try and educate yourself around, um, autism. And sometimes that means scrapping what you thought you already know

if you’re a parent or a teacher, be curious, be curious. 

Pooky Knightsmith: So if we were going to give people, you know, one thing to go away and do it would be, be curious. 

[01:06:00] Jodie Smitten: Yeah. Nonjudgmental and curious, nonjudgmental and curious, give children a safe space to talk about how they find Mrs. Smith really, really difficult because of X, Y, Z, without them being deemed disrespectful or being told off.

Pooky Knightsmith: Amazing. Can you talk just very briefly about kind of what you do, um, in terms of, if people have watched this and gone, I want to work with Jody, she can help me. How do they find out more 

Jodie Smitten: about you and what’s up? Um, all of my, um, I can’t manage too many platforms, so, um, my main, uh, the best way to contact with me is via my Facebook page, which is to Duran’s behavior support wheelchair.

Um, and it’s a big blue logo with hamper currents. Uh, that’s the best way to contact me at the moment. Um, I think in order to try and reach as many people as I can, I’m going to continue doing webinars. I’m really enjoying doing the webinars. [01:07:00] It means that lots of families can access me without it costing them too much.

And it means I can access access, lots of families. Um, my availability is obviously, um, Limited around my own three children. So it’s a really nice way for me to be able to, um, share as much as I can with as many people as possible. 

Pooky Knightsmith: Amazing. So if people go by your Facebook page, they’d be able to find out 

Jodie Smitten: what you’re, what you’re doing.

Everything I do is posted on there. 

Pooky Knightsmith: Brilliant. It’s been an absolute pleasure talking to you. I think I could talk to you for days. 

Jodie Smitten: We could go on 

Pooky Knightsmith: and I’m really, um, thank Keith for, I know you were really anxious about the idea of, of having this chat and I hope it wasn’t 

Jodie Smitten: too hard. It was you PK. You’re too scary.

It’s been 

Pooky Knightsmith: really lovely. No, it’s been no it’s been, and I think that. There’s so much that you said that it’s going to be a springboard and a scaffold for kind of further [01:08:00] thinking within our community. And, um, I hope that we can, we can talk again and we can take forward some of those ideas, depending on what people come back with saying if they find they would find helpful, but, um, I’m happy to commit now to us taking it offline and looking at booking in a live learning session around masking specifically.

Um, because I think that would be really, really valuable, um, and a, and a great thing to do. So I will, I’ll talk with you about that once we stop pressing record and, uh, and we’ll take that, but yeah, thank you so much. And, um, yeah, I’ll, I’ll stop recording now. I will stop waffling. Um, and I really found it helpful.

And, and I guess the final thing I would say is I will share all of your links, um, to your Facebook page and Twitter and stuff. Um, and people who have watched this or listens to it, if you would just go give Jodi some love, because clearly I think that you have. So much more expertise and knowledge and stuff about youth and perhaps you recognize, and it would be really good for people to feed back to you what they found helpful here.

[01:09:00] Jodie Smitten: Thank you. It’s really kind, right. I’m 

Pooky Knightsmith: going to hit, I’m going to press stop, but I’m going to keep talking to you. Thank you, Jodie.