Immie Swain – Training Teachers to Spot the Signs of Autism

Just 2 years ago, Immie Swain was diagnosed with autism – now she’s training teachers to spot the signs in pupils.

Last week, Good Morning Britain (GMB) covered a story regarding a film for educational professionals: Immie’s Signs to Spot Autism – a film created by Good Morning Britain and Immie Swain, which is supported by the National Autistic Society and distributed by The Autism Education Trust.

In the video, Immie discusses her autism diagnosis and experience in education, revealing that she went to 5 different schools, and was only diagnosed with autism when she was 15 years old. She revealed: “Looking back there were so many signs, but nobody spotted them.

“School is exhausting and overwhelming, but we pretend everything’s okay. It’s called Masking and it’s draining for our mental health. For an autistic person, school is incredibly overwhelming, it takes a lot of energy for us to be there. We’re sensitive to things like light, sounds and smells.

“I would say things like, ‘I need a drink’ or ‘I need to go to the toilet’ but in reality, this was just an excuse for me to leave the classroom. I was overwhelmed and needed time out. This allowed me to recharge, come back in and continue with my work.”

The film will be distributed in over 24,000 schools in the UK, in order to help teachers to spot undiagnosed autism in children. A GMB survey has also revealed that 80% of teachers agreed that a lack of autism training has had a direct effect on their pupils’ education, and Immie says her video is one she wishes was around years ago.

Immie stated “Teachers are really important, and I’ve met some amazing ones. These people were kind and understanding. At the time, they didn’t know I had autism, and neither did I, but they were able to see that I just needed a little bit of help, and I am especially thankful to these teachers.”

On her Good Morning Britain appearance, Immie opened up about her struggles in school, from people being “horrible” to her, and to how things such as loud noises could trigger her and cause anxiety.

Pre-diagnosis, her father, GMB Senior News Correspondent Jonathan Swain, admitted that he was unaware of the symptoms: “To be honest, we didn’t have any idea at all,” he told the presenters Susanna Reid and Richard Madeley.

Through sharing her experiences with autism, Immie is helping to raise awareness of autism nationally, and the Autism Education Trust (AET) are proud to say that the video will be included in their training programme.

The AET offers the only DfE-supported (Department for Education), CPD-accredited (Continuing Professional Development) autism training that is co-produced with autistic people like Immie, and they will continue to champion the voices of autistic young people in all of the work that they do.

Sarah Broadhurst, director of the Autism Education Trust shared her thoughts on the video: “We congratulate Immie for her hard work and dedication in creating this video. This very personal and relatable account of her experiences highlights the challenges autistic children often experience in education settings.

“We are really pleased to have been part of this project and look forward to including the video in our autism education training modules. We believe that the voice of autistic young people should be at the heart of professional development for education professionals, and feel that Immie’s video, along with the voices of other autistic young people, bring the materials of our training modules to life.”

Further support and advice is available for teachers at the National Autistic Society and The Autism Education Trust.

View the full Good Morning Britain interview here.

To find out more, visit the Autism Education Trust’s website.

Images courtesy of and Good Morning Britain.

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