At Wargrave, we do not favour any one particular approach to communication; rather we adopt an eclectic stance drawing from a variety of tried and tested approaches and tools, tailored to meet individual and highly specific needs. Those commonly used include:-
PECS (The Picture Exchange Communication System)
This approach has proven to be valuable in providing a method of alternative communication for non-verbal students. It has also been used with verbal children who can speak but are reluctant to do so, or do so for a limited range of functions (e.g. teaches the sentence structures for gaining a person’s attention by using their name; making requests; commenting; sharing feelings and emotions. At Wargrave House School, PECS has been adapted to suit every level of comprehension of children and young people and students who need the approach, ranging from the object of reference stage, to photos, symbols and written sentences.
Derbyshire Language Scheme
The Derbyshire Language Scheme is an assessment tool and language therapy approach which involves measuring and developing a child’s understanding of language by the number of information carrying words (ICWs) he hears and understands in any spoken phrase or sentence.
This approach is used throughout the school to ensure language used by staff with students is at a level they can understand. It is also used to help build on and develop students’ receptive and expressive language. This may be as part of therapy sessions run by the SaLT department or speaking and listening tasks in class, part of IEP/ICP targets, or though suggested activities/strategies in a student’s Communication Advice.
Narrative Therapy is a highly structured visual approach to developing language and storytelling which is very ASD friendly. It teachers key narrative components i.e. who, where, when, what happened, the end and uses colour coding and symbols to help development and understanding of each concept. It develops several skills, such as comprehension of stories, planning written stories, understanding and use of ‘wh’ questions, sentence building, sequencing, inferencing, retelling events and predicting outcomes and is adjustable for different levels of ability.
At Wargrave House School, Narrative Therapy is used as a whole school approach. The colour coding and symbols are used in the visual labelling of the school and residential environment, for example to label ‘who’ is in each room on doors, ‘where’ for the name of the room, ‘when’ for timetables, ‘what’ for jobs rotas and schedules, PECs books. The approach is also used during lessons e.g. weekend reflection, literacy, therapy sessions run by the SaLT department and other times such as following educational visits and proud assembly (to help students comment on what they have done).