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Mealtimes/Dietary Support

Healthy Eating

Eating and drinking are important areas in all our lives and in a school for children and young people with ASD, it is especially necessary that there are clear guidelines addressing all of the issues related to food and drink so that consistency can be ensured as far as possible.

Mealtimes at Wargrave House are considered part of the teaching school day. It is important that a pattern of healthy eating is established for our children and young people as early as possible.

Many children and young people with ASD find it difficult to distinguish between social situations when it may be acceptable for behaviour around mealtimes to be relaxed and those where more formal manners are required. To avoid confusion it is therefore the school policy to promote ‘best behaviour’ at all times. Such behaviour is positively reinforced by staff using a variety of methods including verbal praise, smiles and other appropriate rewards.

Provision is structured in a progressive way with the aim to encourage the greatest level of independence in skills, behaviour and social interaction.

The structure will allow for individual teaching input, small group teaching and an independent environment with minimum supervision.

Children and young people are encouraged and aided to develop some of the social skills associated with mealtimes. Speech and language therapists employed by the school, will join children and young people for lunch, snack times and evening meals to informally observe, help develop and generalise appropriate social communication and behaviour.

Eating out in the community is positively encouraged through the educational visits programme.

Positive Planning

If a child or young person with ASD has severe difficulties with eating and/or drinking, the main focus of concern will be initially helping him/her to eat enough food or drink thrive and stay healthy.

Mealtimes may present difficulties for the child at school, home or both. These may be short lived and easily managed or may present a more long term difficulty.

Management of these difficulties to some extent is no different from that of any other challenging behaviour. In order to meet the needs of those children experiencing severe difficulties, an individual dietary support plan may be devised outlining positive methods of intervention. This is done in consultation with all those who know the child/young person best e.g.: parents, carers, day and residential staff, speech and language therapist, SENCO, cook, and occupational therapist.

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