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Local ASN teacher makes her publishing debut

Posted on 16 May 2022

A former Greenwood Academy pupil and ASN teacher has had her first ever book published.

Written by Kilmarnock-based author Karen Watson, the book titled ‘Good Autism Practice for Teachers: Embracing Neurodiversity and Supporting Inclusion’ was released earlier last month by Critical Publishing.

The new book offers an accessible guide for all trainees and teachers working in the field of Additional Support Needs (ASN), providing practical, evidence-informed ways to support neurodivergent learners that will also benefit all pupils.

The local teacher has been working across North and East Ayrshire for the past ten years. She is an Additional Support Needs educator and inclusion champion and during her free time also shares her teaching expertise to other professionals via her podcast ‘Scottish ASN Teacher’ and as a presenter on Teacher Hug Radio.

Passionate about all things ASN, the author’s aim is to share her book with professionals to increase their confidence, knowledge and opportunities for inclusion.

Karen said: “During my teacher training, I realised that as ASN teaching practices were constantly evolving, there really was a gap in the market for a concise book to give accessible, easy-to-read guidance for some extra reassurance that I was doing the right thing by my learners.

“I’ve always dreamed of writing my own book from a young age, so after spending the last decade working with children, young people and other ASN professionals across different local authorities, I realised that I could combine my experience and practical know-how alongside academic research together into a supportive learning resource.”          

And although Karen has never written a book before, when putting pen to paper, the pages just started to flow: “When I approached Critical Publishing with an outline for the book they were so keen and supportive. The book started to evolve as I wrote chapters on key areas that I was experienced in, trying to take the academic research I had learned in my studies and practical advice from my teaching career and breaking it all down into an accessible reading experience.

“Each chapter covers a range of subjects, including a look at the theory around autism – including procedural/semantic memory, executive functioning, expressive/receptive language, sensory integration, behaviour as communication, and the importance of emotional literacy, co-regulation and resilience.”

She added: “One key aim was to make the book easy to read. I didn’t want to create a textbook to sit on a shelf and collect dust, but more one which can be sitting on a teacher’s desk, covered with sticky notes and with pages folded down. A real companion, to help other teachers on their journey and to give advice and strategies backed up by research.

“Working in ASN can be a difficult job, but it is so rewarding. I hope it will help teachers to recognise the amazing work they do. With regards to the children, I hope that this will provide a sort of framework for good practice. I try to focus on key elements of education, which will promote independence, inclusion and generally support happy and thriving children and families.

“Our education system is constantly adapting and evolving to meet the individual needs of our pupils, and I hope that my little book will help push us along the path to truly accessible education for all.”

She concludes: “The teaching and education facilities and standard of practice for ASN pupils in North Ayrshire are of such high quality and my experiences within the Council have been very positive ones. The children and young people I have worked with are of course a wonderful bunch too! I think once you’ve lived and worked in Ayrshire, it’s hard to settle for anywhere else – unless it was somewhere that didn’t rain quite so much, mind you!”

More details about the book can be found at: Critical Publishing | Good Autism Practice for Teachers - Embracing Neurodiversity and Supporting Inclusion, By Karen Watson