Equipping Educators with In-depth Knowledge to Support Children with Autism by Developing Suitable Education Approach [Interview][Transcript]

mick_grimley_torrens_university_australia_graduate_certificate_autismGuest: Mick Grimley
Presenter: Henry Acosta
Guest Bio: Professor Mick Grimley is Dean of Education at Torrens University Australia and is an experienced educator with over 30 years of experience in Education. He holds the position of Treasurer for the Victorian Council of Deans of Education (VCDE), is a member of Academic Board for Eastern College and an active member of the Australian Council of Educational Research (ACER) course development and quality committee. He was previously the foundational Chair of Education at Swinburne University of Technology, having established and led Education as an online and face-to-face discipline across Early Childhood, Primary and Secondary teacher education. Mick is also the recipient of two Vice Chancellors awards for Teaching and Inclusion and a Dean’s award for Teaching.

Segment overview: In today’s Health Supplier Segment, Professor Mick Grimley talks about the New Autism Program launched by Torrens University Australia as a response to the increasing prevalence of autism in children. The institution launched the Graduate Certificate in Education (Autism) in 2016 to allow educators develop their knowledge in analysing issues and challenges in the education settings to better support individuals with autism by recommending changes to the classroom approach as well as in education policy.

Health Professional Radio – Support Children with Autism

Henry Acosta: Hello, I’m Henry Acosta and you’re listening to Health Professional Radio. Today we have Mick Grimley, Dean of Education at Torrens University Australia. Today we’re here to talk about autism and how it’s been increasing in the past few years. In response to the prevalence of autism in children, Torrens University Australia started a specialized program this year to help educators get educated and equipped in developing skills and knowledge to better prepare themselves to support individuals with autism. Today we’re here to talk about the new program that the university has installed and welcome to the show. Hi Mick, we’re happy to have you here.

Mick Grimley: Hi thank you. Good to be here.

H: And can you give us a little bit more background about who you are and what you do?

M: Yes, sure. So I’m Mick Grimley, I’m a professor of education, I’m also the Dean of Education at Torrens University. We give out higher education programs here at Torrens and we have number of campuses, we have one in Adelaide, one in Melbourne, one in Sydney and one in Brisbane. We also deliver online for those who can’t make it to our campuses so we’re like flexible in terms of what we deliver. Obviously we deliver teacher-education topics from an education perspective.

H: And what inspired you guys into making this program?

M: So obviously we’ve launched the graduate certificate of education autism and the reason that we launched this because we really recognized the need for the cause in autism that help educators to support the large group of children with autism into now in mainstream education. Teachers don’t normally get a lot about how to respond to children with autism and a … initial cause and we know now that it’s about one in a hundred children who are diagnosed with autism. So a huge issue for teachers in schools and a huge issue for children themselves and perhaps not always getting the quality education that could be provided. So we start teaching a few course in February next year.

H: Can you tell us a little bit about autism and the societal issues that come with it?

M: Well obviously it’s quite prevalent now, we’ve got one in a hundred children with autism. And what most courses do in terms of autism is that they come at it from an expert’s approach, what they do is they say, ‘This is how you should deal with the child with autism. This is how you should deal with the individuals with autism.’ We come at it slightly differently … because what we do is we take a first-person approach to autism. What we do is we put the person first, this isn’t done very often and we normally do things to people and we come at it with experts. So what we want to do is we want to … in the place of the person with autism and so that they have a real understanding of autism, what it means to have autism so that they really understand the perspective from the individual with autism. This is very unusual, quite often autism is stigmatized now in society, people don’t really understand the issues and what it is to have actual autism.

H: What’s the biggest misconception that you guys face or what are the most common questions that usually get asked about the program?

M: I think it’s quite an important approach, we’re not coming from an expert’s perspective and quite often we’re asked ‘How would we know how someone with autism is feeling? how someone with autism and how they need to be treated, etc. How programs need to be changed to actually help people with autism in education.’ So what we do is we co-design our courses, so we actually have a lot of people with autism designing the courses and facilitating in our courses. We actually work with a network called ‘The I Can Network’ this is a good for individuals with autism who actually will help us co-design the course and they’ll actually speak within the course as well.

H: What kind of impact do you think this will make on the educators who take this course and with people who have autism?

M: Well you should come away from this course with the real deep understanding of autism, what it means to have autism. Because this course really offers an … from a first-person approach as I said previously. And while you put the person with autism in center, you also gain the skills so that you can offer the best practical solutions within a particular learning situation for the person with autism. All in all, not only does this equip you to have a deep knowledge and understanding of autism but also the skills to solve problems and any … for individuals with autism in an educational environment. It is quite important because what we have to remember is that everyone with autism is different just you and me we’re different and so we really need to be able to think on our feet as educated to improve educational outcomes for these individuals.

H: What’s the main take away message that you want our audience to learn about this interview right now?

M: I think probably the take away message is that we really need to understand individuals with autism. It’s not good to come at it from a perspective the way you think, I know how to change programs in education because I don’t know in a particular way. What it really means is that we need to have a deep understanding of autism. I would love the general public to have an understanding of autism, some of those constructive and for everybody to be able to chat with someone with autism so that they understand perhaps the issues that they’re facing out in society, that they’re facing in educational context. If you get this understanding then you can be much, much more able to actually work with individuals with autism and we’ll going to give them much better chance in life just as you and me and have a chance in life when we do education.

H: For our last question, for anyone who’s interested in inquiring with you guys and maybe enrolling for the program how can they reach you guys?

M: So all our courses you’ll find on our website and so torrens.edu.au to go to our website, you can see our courses on the website. We have a number of courses not just in autism, we also have courses around mental health and special education for teachers and educators. Also on the website there’s our phone number, you can always talk to one of our advisors about courses and ultimately with the teaching staff as well.

H: Well that’s all our questions for today. Thank you for being on the show Mick.

M: It’s my pleasure.

H: And that was Mick Grimley, Dean of Education at Torrens University Australia. We just talked about their new program and how they help push education forward to a better tomorrow. I’m Henry Acosta and you’re listening to Health Professional Radio. If you’ve missed this interview and want to listen to the whole thing again you can go on www.healthpraofessionalradio.com.au or on www.hpr.fm. We’re also available on Soundcloud and iTunes.

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