Sarah has been an ISL at Portfield School for the past 15 years, working closely with both the younger children and the sixth formers.
She has been Maddie’s 1-2-1 for the 5 years she has been a student at Portfield School. Maddie initially had a lot of anxiety and struggled in a classroom setting, staying in a separate room with Sarah and another member of staff. Since then, she has really flourished and is doing amazing at sixth form.
She speaks fondly of Maddie, praising her great personality and describing her as ‘friendly, empathetic, happy and clever.’ She recognises Maddie’s patience and good understanding of autism and special educational needs, suggesting she would do well working in that area, as well as with younger children.
On myths, she comments on how people assume autistic people aren’t empathetic or sympathetic and struggle to make relationships.
Debunking the myth, she says, ‘Maddie has a good friendship group, you know, she’ll talk to most people and she’s gained lots of confidence as well in doing so, I think. Social awkwardness and things like that, I think she busts that myth quite well.’
She believes employers need people like Maddie because it will brighten up their work environment and bring them lots of joy and happiness. There are too many unnecessary barriers for autistic people seeking work and employers should be a lot more adaptable.
Maddie undertook a part time job during Christmas, and while it was very busy and stressful, she dealt with it incredibly well. However, the employer wasn’t very understanding, even saying, ‘if I knew you had autism, we wouldn’t have employed you.’
If she had the chance to say something to that employer, she would say, ‘you’re, you know, really narrow minded and putting a label on something doesn’t change anything at all. They are still human beings and can still function in society and do a really good job in society.’