01 April, 2021 | Posted by Fran Trehy

World Autism Awareness Day: The Joy of Working as an SNA

World Autism Awareness Day Portobello Institute

Well, here it is again, my favourite time of year, a time to celebrate the most amazing individuals in my life. As World Autism Awareness Day comes to the fore, it is a great excuse to celebrate the joy of so many people I know, who have brought nothing but joy and inspiration.

I am an SNA and a tutor, two jobs that I love and am blessed to be involved in, I have encountered children through my career who are now adults who have brought so much into my life, some of whom have become lifetime friends and that is what life is all about.

When I teach students in the Special Needs Assisting courses at Portobello, I hope that I can truly portray the joy I get when I am working with children with autism.

The individuality of each child is fascinating and along with the general traits such as the triad of impairments, (Social Interaction, Social Communication, Rigidity of Thinking and Difficulties with Social Imagination), each child is a wonderful individual, as stated by Dr Stephen Shore:

"If you've met one person with autism, you've met one person with autism.”

When I work with children, and I get to meet wonderful families, I see how hard their lives can be, they are a special kind of person and in some respects were chosen to have these special children, on the hard days, some really hard days, it is not pity that I look at them with, but pure admiration.

They work tirelessly for their children to receive the services they so rightly deserve.

It is hard enough to cope with everyday life without the added pressure of neglected services on top of what hardships the pandemic brought.

There are many remarkable people that we know through either their genius or skill, some of whom we do not realise are on the autism spectrum and you may be surprised to know had autism, people such as Albert Einstein, Amadeus Mozart, Emily Dickinson, James Joyce and in last decade Andy Warhol and Bill Gates to name but a few.

According to Hans Asperger – who discovered ‘Asperger's Syndrome’ a form of autism - "A sort of intelligence hardly touched by tradition and culture – unconventional, unorthodox, strangely 'pure' and original, akin to the intelligence of true creativity." (Fitzgerald 2004 P. 5).

As I am a forever optimist I know the world we live in will be a world where all people with autism can reach their full potential, but only by increasing our understanding and acceptance.

I do wonder at the era we are living in now, and celebrate the power of knowledge, and the power to embrace differences. To love who we are and what we are made up of, to celebrate uniqueness to its fullest.

To all the children I know especially my beautiful nephew, be proud of who you are, you bring joy, and you bring happiness to everyone who has been lucky to see inside you.

This article was written by Fran Trehy, SNA tutor at Portobello Institute.

Read More: LEGO® Therapy: Supporting the Child With Autism Spectrum Disorder in Early Education

Find Out More

Portobello Institute offers a range of courses in Early Years, Special Needs Assisting and Inclusive Education. See our courses here:

For more information on the SNA courses or MA course, you can book a 15-minute consultation call with our expert advisor, Jennifer Matteazzi, email jennifer.matteazzi@portobelloinstitute.com or call 01 892 0031. 

For more information on the Inclusive Education courses, you can book a 15-minute consultation call with our expert advisor, Sarah Coyne, email sarah.coyne@portobelloinstitute.com or call 01 892 0028. 

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