© 2016 The Autistic Voice
Dr Sandra Beale-Ellis
Freelance Writer, Educator, Speaker and Advocate
'I believe our stories inspire, motivate and connect us as human beings'.
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My blog hopes to inspire, entertain and most importantly, help you realise that while life doesn't always follow your chosen path, there is always something positive to be learned and more to be gained.
Biography
Sandra Beale-Ellis is a writer, teacher, speaker and successful businesswoman who happens to be autistic, is a doctor of education and has survived childhood cancer and subsequent medical anomalies.

She believes everyone has a story to tell and it's these stories which inspire, motivate and connect us as human beings. With her academic research interests lying firmly in auto-ethnography, and her blogging under the auspices of The Autistic Voice, she has always been completely open with who she is, and never afraid to be truthful to her audience about the highs and lows of her life in autism and beyond. She was clinically diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome in 2010.

As well as being a successful author of Autism and Martial Arts: A Guide for Children, Parents and Teachers (found in Publications), she is a well known and successful karate and dance teacher. She is currently working on other writing projects including Sensing a City: My Autistic Perspective, due for release next year; and an, as yet untitled, collection of short essays exploring her perspectives of a plethora of lessons learned in her life... so far, using an insightful, honest and witty style.

Sandra is a popular speaker for local and national groups, events and conferences, universities, and has a regular 'gig' speaking on the National Autistic Society's Post Graduate Certificate in Autism and Asperger's Syndrome, run in unison with Sheffield Hallam University and has worked with the NAS on the Active for Autism online training module.

Additionally she has been at the forefront of national martial arts governance over the past twenty five years, is an experienced systems manager and auditor, and manages to find time to work with local and international charities including Opening Your Heart to Bhutan, a local and Bhutan based charity which works with a school for disabled children, and other village projects in South Bhutan.

She is happily married and lives in a semi-rural idyll with her husband Joe, their two fur babies, Holly and Rosie (yorkshire terriers), and a myriad of feathered and scaly creatures. Over the past few years, she has forayed into the world of yoga and simple living and their place in an ever demanding society. She is studying the various principles of yoga in a bid to eventually become a qualified teacher and run a studio specialising in management of anxiety, stress and anger related to medical, emotional and social conditions as well help the physical body.
Work
Education Work
I have a long teaching background in a variety of genres. In the nineties I taught business in the Prison Service and Further Education. In addition I was a vocational external and internal verifier and assessor within awarding bodies including City and Guilds, OCR, Pitman, AMSPAR and the Arts Council.

Since the mid eighties I have taught dance after a long competitive career. I am experienced karate teacher (for over twenty five years) with a long history of teaching students with additional medical, social and emotional needs. Autism is my speciality.

I also undertake freelance and associate teaching in universities, and for specialist organisations and charities; auto-ethnography and reflective practice are my favoured areas of research; I am an experienced sports instructor trainer. I have a doctorate and masters in education.
Speaking
I regularly speak about my perspective on various aspects of autism for the Post Graduate Certificate in Autism and Asperger's Syndrome, run the National Autistic Society and Sheffield Hallam University. I have presented at conferences including Theorising Normalcy and the Mundane, AGMs, organisations including the British Federation of Women Graduates and Women in Business; topics include my personal journey including cancer survival, autism and its various aspects, research etc.
Freelance Writer
I am experienced in many areas of writing including business and corporate: policies, reports, audit systems, training courses, press releases, magazine editing and marketing. I love to write articles and essays on inspiring topics and much of my work has a self reflective or auto-ethnographic flavour. My blog The Autistic Voice can cover pretty much anything that enters my mind.

My first book Autism and Martial Arts: A Guide for Children, Parents and Teachers has been a success and has increased both numbers of autistic children within the arts, and the knowledge and skills of teachers running the classes.

Other books are in progress including 'Sensing A City: My Autistic Perspective, and a self reflective montage of lessons on a multitude of life areas with an interesting juxtaposition of serious and witty repartee.
Business / Charity
I have been involved in a variety of businesses in my work career including the health service, the Prison Service Investors in People Project team and a medical insurance company. Additionally, together with my husband, I set up a national martial arts governing body and I have been a director since 1992. Alongside this I have been self employed since 1996.

I was a founder trustee of a sports trust, a trustee of a family support charity for disabled children locally, and am currently involved as a volunteer with a local based international charity, where we raise money for and arrange for the completion of a wide range of projects in Bhutan for their children.
Education
Doctorate in Education
Sheffield Hallam University
Research was based on an ethnography of learning experiences of autistic individuals: children and young people, and adults' perspectives of their childhood. My thesis also included my own perspective as an autistic adult.
Post Graduate Certificate in Asperger's Syndrome (now also autism)
Sheffield Hallam University/National Autistic Society
Papers were based within the martial arts teaching environment; one based on an autistic child's experience, and the second based on the interactions between an autistic teacher and adolescent students.
MA (Education)
Christ Church University, Canterbury
My Dissertation was 'The Irony of Standards'; studying the concept of 'dumbing down'
Certificate in Education
University of Kent
Practical teacher training which was a grounding for all my subsequent work
Publications
Autism and Martial Arts: A Guide for Children, Parents and Teachers
This book is an insight into what might be experienced within a martial arts class. It is written with the child or young person in mind, but includes parent guidance throughout, and a section specifically for teachers. All students featured in the book are students of Sandra's. The book combines personal perspectives with those of her students to give a unique insight into the issues in the book.

'My autism path began with one student and along the way I have gathered many more autistic individuals who have touched my life in some way. I am blessed'.

Hardback - ISBN: 978-0-9933142-0-9
Perspectives of the Autistic 'Voice': An Ethnography Examining Informal Education Learning Experiences
This is Sandra's doctoral thesis.
A full copy can be found at http://shura.shu.ac.uk/8317/

Abstract:

Using a qualitative theoretical stance of interpretivism, this study offers an opportunity for young autistic individuals to have a 'voice' and participate in a wholly reflective discussion about their informal education learning experiences. The study uses a constructivist framework to discuss various concepts including autism as a disability, the importance of recognising the heterogeneity of the autistic population, and the significance of informal education and physical activities to the lives of the participants; the aim being to create a positive learning experience where the diversity of learners is valued and recognised as well as informing professional teacher development.

An extensive examination of the literature reveals a myriad of rich intertwining perceptions that are pertinent considerations based on concerns at the root of this research: issues around the autistic mind, pedagogy and socio-cultural learning.

A pluralist methodology is used throughout to reflect the diverse autistic community, with a strong influence underlying each phase of autoethnography and self-reflection. This is crucial to the study to utilise each autistic 'voice' including that of the researcher who is an autistic adult as well as a professional within the context of the study. In addition, teachers within the field have been given an opportunity to have a 'voice' to complement and support the data.

The data has revealed a whole range of emergent themes, which can be further explored, developed and utilised outside of the this study to produce guidelines to inform a national autism specific teacher training programme for informal educators. The study has highlighted the need for flexible pedagogy, and for teachers to be conscious of the heterogeneity of their autistic students, as well as highlighting the importance of the student/teacher relationship within informal education.
Media
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