Fizzacc Information

There are many changes that children must negotiate when transitioning between primary and secondary school.  These include dealing with new, much larger and busier environments, meeting raised expectations of autonomy and planning, and managing different expectations from up to seven different teachers each day.  While some primary to secondary transitions are planned well, many are poorly managed and can lead to anxiety and resistance to school which can result in poor attendance or school refusal.

While the primary to secondary transition for autistic children has been the focus of research, much of this focuses on the views of teachers and parents.  Opportunities for autistic young people to share their stories in a meaningful way are rare.  Even more rare are the voices of autistic girls who are less likely than boys to have been identified as autistic by the time they transition to secondary school.

This research, therefore, prioritises the voices of autistic girls as central to our learning about transitions.  Read on to find out more about us and what we have been doing.

Who are we?

We are a research group made up of six autistic girls and one researcher/ex-teacher.   Click on our biographies to find out more about us. 

Hello!  My name is Chloe
I used to be a drama teacher.  Some of the children in my classes were autistic and I didn’t think that I was helping them as much as I could have so I decided to learn more about autism.  
Now I am a researcher working to help autistic young people have a better time at school.
What I want you to know about autism
Although autistic people sometimes feel as if they are on their own, there are lots of people whose brains work differently and want to be friends.  It might just take a little bit longer to find them.
I’m Iris and I got diagnosed with Autism at 8 years old... 
Autism is a superpower that makes you think differently, so be proud of your autism.

Sometimes I wonder “Why am I the way that I am?” But I always tell myself “I was put here for a reason – to change the world” 

But I want you to remember that some children who haven’t been diagnosed act “naughty” but they aren’t always, they might be overwhelmed; so just TBYA – Think, Before, You, Assume. Thanks for watching Autism Heroes and Helpers...
Hi! I’m Annie :)
I was diagnosed as autistic when I was 16 and it has made my life so much better. I feel so much more confident in myself and  I’m finally getting the support I need :)
I want you to know that every autistic person is different - there is no one way to ‘look’ or be autistic, we all have different traits. Autistic people can be of any race, gender, sexuality etc. but we’re all still autistic :)
Hi! My name is Zaynab
I was diagnosed with autism last year when i was 12-13 years old and because of that I feel bit more confident in myself since i started to understand why i was more sensitive to other things than the people around me.
What I want you to know about autism…
It’s not some sort of disease or something that is strange or weird. It’s just that people with autism see the world slightly differently or react differently compared to those without autism and that doesn’t mean it’s bad to be different
My name is Feydakeen and I was diagnosed with Autism around the time I entered year 7. After being diagnosed with autism my life has been better because I have been able to accept myself for who I am instead of comparing myself to everyone else all the time. In school I take computer science, art, graphics and media, my favorite lessons are computer science and art.
One thing I want you to know about autism is that that labels like “high functioning” and “low functioning” often do more harm than good. I have been denied access to the help I need on multiple occasions because I am “high functioning” and I “can make eye contact” so I “don’t need” the help I need in order to be successful.
Hi! I'm Zoe!
I was diagnosed with Autism at 17 years old and since then have been doing all I can to raise awareness and positivity around Autism and mental health. It's so important to understand what Autism really is and get rid of any negative stereotypes! 
What I want you to know about autism...
You can't tell if someone has Autism just by looking at them! Absolutely anyone around you could have a hidden disability so make sure to be mindful and kind to everyone. We’re different not less!
Hello There I'm Carys.
I was diagnosed with autism when I was 14 years old, and since then I have realised that I've been trying to fit in with other people instead of trying to be myself.

Our name – Fizzacc – is made up of our initials.  We particularly like it because if you google it, it autocorrects to pizza!

What do we do?

We have been considering how we can use our experiences of education and of transitions to support other children.  One of the ways in which we have been doing this is by using body mapping.  This has involved making life-sized representations of ourselves and drawing, writing and collaging images that represent our feelings and experiences.  Here are some images from our body maps.

On the left is a drawing with stick figures.   The speech bubbles say 'why are you so obsessed with 1D?', 'We don't want to play with you', 'You're weird' 'you're being rude'.  The thought bubble says 'I did my best'.
At the top are a group of figures saying 'fit in and lose my sparkle?' and a single figure saying 'stand out for being me?'
Bottom right is a figure with a sad face surrounded by orange and red squiggles and dots.  Around the figure is written: Weird, loner, just got to make friends with them, swot, rude, naughty, boring, nerd, why can't you talk, what's wrong with you?
Drawing of a hand.  Around the wrist is a rainbow band.  The hand has splodges of red, yellow and blue paint on it.  On the index finger are eyes and a bee.  On the ring finger is a computer.  On the palm of the hand is a book and a butterfly.  Across the fingers is an arrow.
Drawing of a hand and forearm.  There are lines on it that look like veins.  There is a red and green bracelet unclasped on the wrist.  Standing on the tips of the fingers is a yellow chick with the words 'cute', 'sparkle' and 'smash' and a red love heart.  To the left of the hand is a circular image with a black jagged outline.  the centre of the image has two eyes with a jagged line between them.  One eye is crying.  At the top of the page is an angry looking storm cloud in black, blue and purple with white splattered on it.

How can you get involved?

Based on the experiences we shared of transitions we have designed some resources that we hope will help teachers and pupils to better understand what it is like to be an autistic girl in school. The resources will available for anyone to use and will be available to download here in July 2022. If you have any questions about what we have created or would like any further information, please contact c.east@soton.ac.uk.

We are recruiting!

We are looking for primary or secondary schools who would be interested in trying out our resources and answering some questions about them.  If you would like to be involved please contact c.east@soton.ac.uk.

This research is being funded by the ESRC through the South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership

https://acorns-soton.org.uk/2021/02/2019-chloe-east/