I graduated in OT from University of Ulster in 2000. My student placement in paediatrics ignited my interest in pursuing that specialism. It was during that placement that I observed the strength of multidisciplinary working as the OT and SLT delivered almost all intervention as a joint approach, using SI. This formed the foundation for my future clinical practice.
I commenced a post in special schools in 2001 and embraced the opportunity to be a health professional working within education. I worked closely with SLTs, teachers and assistants, often delivering joint intervention sessions. This allowed children to achieve therapeutic goals alongside curriculum targets. It was during this time that I completed my SI training which hugely enhanced my clinical practice with children with autism, ADHD, DCD developmental delays and learning difficulties. I became increasingly interested in how using an SI framework enhanced our team’s understanding of the behaviours observed in autism and how an SI based approach could support increased engagement in play, interaction and learning.
In 2008 I moved to Middletown Centre for Autism where I am employed as a Trainer/Advisor. My primary role is to deliver training in autism specific topics to parents and professionals, but as we work across departments, I am also involved in Research and in Learning Support and Assessment (LSA). This cross-departmental working enriches each part of my job. My experience of working with children and young people informs my training delivery, while involvement in research projects ensures I am using the most current evidence based practice in both my intervention work and my training sessions.
The LSA team works within a transdisciplinary model which includes teachers, OTs, SLTs and behaviour specialists. Team members work as coordinators for children and young people referred to the Centre, integrating the recommendations from the different professionals into a single Learning Support Plan which is implemented across home and school settings. This has given me experience in different intervention approaches for autism and how they can be integrated with SI based strategies to provide a cohesive approach to intervention and support, ensuring greater consistency for the person with autism, their family and school staff.
Jill McCanney, Autism Trainer/Advisor, Middletown Centre for Autism