Autism Support within Beechlawn School
The ethos of Beechlawn School reflects the needs of all pupils at the school, including the development of self esteem, mutual respect and tolerance between all members of the school community. A well prepared and organised environment, in which all members of the school community feel safe, and where effective teaching and learning can take place, is central to all that Beechlawn staff seek to provide for our pupils.
What is autism?
Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a term used for a very complex developmental disability. Pupils with ASD vary but they all have the core difficulties as a result of :-
TRIAD OF IMPAIRMENTS.
Ø Social Interaction - difficulty in interacting socially
Ø Communication - difficulty in understanding and using language to communicate.
Ø Imagination - difficulty with thinking imaginatively and understanding the thoughts and emotions of others.
Other features include repetitive behaviour patterns, a resistance to change and a reliance on routine. In addition to these features, pupils may also have some of the following: -
v Sensory and perceptual difficulties often including over or under sensitivity to particular lights, sounds, tastes, touch or movements.
v Fine and gross motor control problems.
v Eating, drinking and sleeping irregularities.
v Limited attention span and an inability to block out distractions.
v Lack of appropriate eye contact.
v Excessive anxiety.
v Repetitive questioning.
v Anger or aggression when things do not go their way.
v Poor organisational skills.
v Ritualistic or obsessive behaviour.
v Inability to read facial expressions or social signals.
At Beechlawn we recognise the needs of pupils with ASD and promote the development of social skills and academic potential by helping pupils access the curriculum so that we meet the physical, educational and social needs of each one.
We employ various approaches and strategies to develop self esteem and self confidence to the full, emphasising the importance of a unified approach and good practice throughout the school
Our aim is to help pupils with ASD integrate into the school population, to encourage independence and to help each pupil reach full potential.
We also aim to prepare pupils with ASD for Life after School.
Management throughout the school
Teaching and Learning
A good learning environment for ASD pupils requires that:
· All teachers have access to relevant diagnostic assessment and profile information.
· Class sizes are appropriate.
· Classrooms are well organised.
· Strategies are effective for individual pupils, are evaluated and knowledge is shared.
· Routines are highly structured and well established throughout the school.
· Areas of activity are clearly signed.
· Daily class schedules are used to guide pupils.
· Individual schedules are used where necessary.
· Individual work systems are in place where necessary.
· Relaxation techniques are taught and a "chill out" area provided.
· Home/school diaries and homework diaries are used to keep parents informed.
· Anger management is addressed.
· Classroom assistants support the individual learning programmes, recognising the need to avoid developing over dependence.
Initial information from statements, profiles and medical background concerning pupils with ASD is collated by the class teacher and shared with other relevant staff.
Classroom assistants are effectively deployed to help ASD pupils access the curriculum without developing dependence.
Information relating to individual pupils concerning particular intolerances and motor - coordination difficulties are circulated to relevant staff.
Social Skills Training
Strategies such as social stories, comic strips and structured routines, ie. class schedules are in place.
All children in Key Stage 3 benefit from P.D. classes and the Life Skills rooms where life skills can be taught and practised in a 'close to life' context.
A Social and Life skills Programme is in place for Years 11 and 12.
Classroom Assistant Support for ASD pupils.
While we are all working towards developing independent skills for each pupil, classroom assistants are an invaluable support for pupils with ASD. It is, however, important to avoid encouraging dependence.
Classroom assistants assist in many different ways including:-
- Allowing the teacher time for one to one instruction.
- Writing classroom schedules.
- Supporting ASD pupils with schedules, work systems and routines.
- Breaking work into small steps.
- Reinforcing social skills learned.
- Anticipating the needs of the ASD pupil.
- Writing social stories.
- Using comic strips.
- Creating picture cues and prompts.
Transition from Primary to Post Primary Education.
We have developed carefully structured and resourced programmes to ensure smooth transition between Primary and Post Primary placements.
There is close liaison between Beechlawn and feeder Primary schools involving the Principal and Year 8 teachers.
Induction interviews with parents and pupils in the Spring term include individual family tours of the school.
An induction morning for newly enrolled pupils is held mid June when new pupils meet with current Year 8 pupils, their teachers and take part in purposeful fun activities.
Transition booklets, including photographs of Beechlawn, are distributed to all new pupils, prior to starting year 8, to assist parents in preparing their children over the summer holidays. Parents may visit the school with their child during the school holiday.
A policy of open communication between school and parents operates. Parents are encouraged to contact the school to discuss anything that is worrying them or about which they need clarification.