Thursday, June 10, 2010


Yesterday I spent most of the day teaching at City University in London. Perhaps teaching is really too strong a word, as I'm not professionally qualified in any way to teach. But I, along with two others, spent time talking to a whole year group of student speech and language therapists about our experiences of parenting children with language and communication difficulties and helping them understand how to communicate with parent carers in their professional lives.

I've been doing these occasional sessions for about five years now and find them very enjoyable. Yesterday, as I was recounting some of our experiences to the room, it struck me how much easier it had become. Not just to speak out to so many people, but to discuss the past without getting upset. That, I think, is a measure of how far son 2 has come and perhaps also of my ability to deal with his autism.

The first year students always seem to appreciate our input. We guest speakers arrive after they've already had a short academic session and we then take turns to tell a little of our histories. After lunch the students undertake a fun written exercise in smaller groups and we circulate the room, helping them and enabling them to ask lots more questions if they wish. It works well and the students all seem to enjoy it.

As always, I was impressed by how well the students had taken in the themes under discussion and the intelligence of their questions. There is no doubt that they are all entering their chosen profession with genuine motivation. But there were also fears being expressed privately about the uncertain future of the NHS. There is already a shortage of speech and language therapists in frontline services and the future does not look bright for either therapists or service users.

Although I never had any desire to be a teacher like my father, I really do enjoy my brief forays into higher education teaching. It's fun. Maybe I actually missed my vocation somewhere!


Queenie said...

I too enjoy a little bit of teaching, although I find it exhausting. I couldn't do it full time. And I think you're far better qualified than most professionals to teach that particular subject.

Cathy said...

I couldn't teach full time either and I know the lecturers work incredibly hard. It's fun to do it occasionally though, especially talking about something I don't have to learn first!

Catherine said...

Maybe you are Cathy. We do like to pigeonhole people as a society -a teacher is only a teacher if a bit of paper says so, but I'm sure you have a lot to teach others and glad you are having the opportunity.

Anonymous said...

This sounds fantastic, Cathy. I'd love to do something like it myself. It might help boost my confidence a little. I've often spoken to professionals about Amy and they look at me with a blank face; a lot of them have no idea what goes on behind closed doors, in the house, yet they all know everything there is to know about autism. We parents know how little they really know.

CJ xx

Cathy said...

Marianne, I think I enjoy informally teaching adults but I'd hate to be tied to a curriculum!

CJ- you are right, the professionals know very little about the realities of living with the ASD. That's why it is so promising the some Unis at least are starting to recognise this and incorporate a little extra training, though a one day session with parents is nothing in the context of a four year degree.

Maybe it is worth asking locally if teachers or health professionals might like you to give them an informal training course?