As a specialist ASD provision, there is a whole school approach towards the consistent use of intervention. A structured approach, centred around the principles of TEACCH (Training and Education of Autistic and related Communication handicapped Children) is a key feature of the school. Whilst individually tailored, the symbols and pictures used to inform students of daily structure and information are agreed school standards and likewise, the environment is structured to provide predictability and consistency throughout school using similar visual cues (such as groupings of tables, individual workstations, layout of dining room, labelling of physical environment). It is apparent from research that children and young people with ASD are highly visual learners. This clear visual structure communicates to them the necessary information to enable them to access learning.
In addition, the school benefits from a large Speech and Language Therapy (SaLT) team; a Head (Specialist) SaLT, three SaLTs, a SaLT Assistant, an Occupational Therapist (OT) and an Occupational Therapy Assistant. The SaLTs, whilst having individual case loads, are timetabled to work alongside class teachers during the teaching day and when appropriate (such as for assessment or individual needs purposes / small social interaction groups, or sensory integration sessions in conjunction with the OT) will withdraw students from sessions according to individual need. Individual therapy is therefore difficult to quantify, although for monitoring purposes, efficacy studies and individual progress tracking regularly take place.
Programmes devised to enable children and young people to develop self-regulatory/self-modulating behaviour are developed by the OT.
This whole school approach pervades all that we do, with SaLT input into the 24-hour curriculum for residential/short term break/after school club students. Together with SaLT input into community-based activities, the approach facilitates generalisation of skills into real-life settings/environments. Multidisciplinary team meetings (between SaLT, Class Teacher, Care worker as appropriate) are held termly to review Individual Education Plans (IEPs). IEPs are Triad-based and additionally, teachers plan for individual learning outcomes based on P/NC levels on a personalised basis.
SaLT also provide input into individual child/young person’s behaviour support programmes incorporating strategies such as PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System), sensory strategies, social stories.
In addition to the direct input of SaLTs within the classroom, training within the school is frequently focused on approaches towards communication. The Head SaLT will undertake training in ‘Communication’ for new staff for induction purposes (within the first 2-3 weeks of appointment).
Where appropriate, the school has developed a programme to support children and young people in developing self-awareness and the impact of their ASD. This is run via the SaLT department in conjunction with class teachers (Social Skills groups). The SaLT department has recently introduced a ‘peer mentoring’ programme (‘Friendship Friday’) to facilitate purposeful development of social interaction skills in functional settings around the school.