Anne Love | Love Autism | Larkhall, UK
In 1981 I graduated from Hamilton Teacher Training College as a Primary Teacher and in 1982, at the age of 22, graduated from Jordanhill College of Education as an Infant/Nursery Teacher. These were the first steps taken in a Teaching and Education career spanning 37 years (so far…)
The first 18 years of my career was spent in mainstream nurseries and primary schools in Dumbarton, Strathclyde and Glasgow. I loved my job and was fortunate enough to work with some inspirational colleagues during that time who helped shape the teacher I became. However, it was during my 14 years at Oakgrove Primary School in Glasgow City Centre that sparked my interest in inclusive and additional support needs education. I was faced with a variety of complex needs in every class I taught. Oakgrove was a school supporting pupils with learning disabilities, English as an Additional Language, Asylum Seekers, Refugees, pupils who has been excluded from other schools and much more. In a Primary 1 class I taught, there were 5 languages spoken. Many of the children had no English. I have very fond memories of two girls in my class, one from Iraq, one from Iran who were the best of friends during the time of the Iraq/Iran war. Oakgrove was an open plan and multicultural school. Not only did my time at Oakgrove change my outlook on teaching, it changed my outlook on life. When my Daughter was starting school, I had to make the tough decision to leave the school I loved so much to relocate closer to home.
During my time at Oakgrove, I also supported children and young people outside of the school environment. I applied and was selected as part of the first Scottish training session for Childline Scotland and volunteered for over 6 years. I was selected as a telephone counsellor and was then asked to work with the Childline Outreach team, planning and delivering workshops on bullying, bereavement and loss and children in care. Training new counsellors and training trainers also became part of my role and it’s where my interest in training others was sparked. I also volunteered with Dyslexia Scotwest for 4 years as a home tutor, supporting children with Dyslexia. I was given the opportunity to participate in the selection, recruitment and training process of new tutors.
In August 2002 I started working as a Primary 2 class teacher in Hamilton. I left this job after 4 months to pursue my interest in Early Years Education. In January 2003 I started work as an Early Years Specialist Support Teacher, supporting pupils with a variety of needs such as Autism, rare syndromes, dyspraxia, cerebral palsy, and language delay to name a few. One of the first young people I worked with had a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. I didn’t have a great depth of knowledge of ASD at this time so had to learn fast as more than half of my caseload became supporting pupils with ASD. I developed a particular interest in communication disorders and consequently completed a Certificate in Special Educational Needs with Autism as a specialism. Little did I know that this interest in Autism would shape my career and retirement to this day.
In 2006 I started work as an Autism Outreach Teacher in South Lanarkshire. I was part of a team of two who had full responsibility for collaborating with, supporting and training teachers, senior management and support assistants on ASD in 105 schools across South Lanarkshire.
Due to my wide and varied experience of supporting pupils with ASD and delivering training to teachers, I was asked to take up the post of Acting Principal Teacher of an Autism Base with particular responsibility for children with severe and complex needs. I was successful in securing this post for one school year from August 2015.
I then took up the position of Inclusion Teacher. A very similar role to the Principal Teacher post but, once more, working across the authority.
In September 2017, due to further Council cuts to Educational services, I made the sudden decision to retire early at the age of 57. It was my full intention to work in a garden centre and birdwatch full time (these are my other passions) however, after a chance conversation with a friend, I became founder of Love Autism 24 hours after I had retired! A business I expected not to go anywhere has kept me very busy for the last year and a half. I still have the opportunity to train staff in schools but I’m now able to involve myself in so much more. I deliver training sessions and work alongside parents and carers, I host autism specific parent/carer support groups in schools, I’m regularly invited to speak at various organisations and events, I support young people to disclose their diagnosis of ASD to peers, I support families, I’m delivering online training and support sessions and, best of all, I’m still able to volunteer on a regular basis.