Freemantles School

Freemantles School

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Autism Specific Interventions

The school is committed to effectively implementing a number of Key Strategies that have been proven to be highly effective for children and young people with Autism. These strategies feature very highly in the School vision and aims as they assist in developing emotional wellbeing, communication, social understanding, independence and functional academic progress.

Each child in the school will be assessed as to which of the strategies may be appropriate in helping them at any particular time and this will be discussed with Parents at the Annual Review.

We invest a great deal in staff training to ensure that all staff can develop a good understanding of the strategies. We are aiming to have staff who are trained as trainers to support each strategy in being as effective as possible. These trained trainers will also offer training to parents.

A brief overview of the Key Strategies or Interventions we use are:

TEACCH

This was developed in America and is a system that helps to structure the day and the environment in a very visual way to help Children and young people to understand what is happening to them. It is based on the premise that the children often appear to find day to day life challenging and anxiety-inducing because they do not understand what is happening to them. This is often compounded by their inability to generalise – so they will not predict that things will happen in this way because they always have done before. The visual structures and symbols result in the children being able to remain calmer and promote emotional well being and independence. It is a key way for parents and staff to communicate with their children.

Social Stories and Comic Strip Conversations

Developed by Carol Gray. Freemantles is very proud to be the first school anywhere in the world to be an accredited Satellite School for training in the use of Social Stories and Comic Strip conversations (see separate tab for further details). These strategies aid the development of Social thinking, understanding and skills as well as supporting emotional well being.

A Social Story/Social Article accurately describes a situation, skill, or concept according to 10 defining criteria.  These criteria guide Story/Article development to ensure an overall patient and supportive quality, format, “voice”, and relevant content that is descriptive, meaningful, and physically, socially, and emotionally safe for the Audience.

A Comic Strip Conversation incorporates the use of simple drawings. It places an emphasis on what people say, do, and think. It uses symbols and colour to clarify communication and improve comprehension. As such it is a really useful tool to not only help us explain social situations more accurately but also understand how the children and young people may be thinking and where we may need to focus teaching or correct misunderstanding.

PECS 

The Picture Exchange Communication System is used for children who are preverbal or becoming verbal. A key aspect of this system is to ensure that the child has understood that they need to gain someone’s attention to communicate. Each child has their own book of symbols and they build up sentences that they then hand over and if possible read out to the adult. The system encourages and helps children who are becoming verbal and it also provides a means of communication for pupils who do not become verbal. Children who are particularly proficient in using PECS, without becoming verbal, will often move onto an electronic communication device. As a result of helping the child to communicate, frustration reduces and therefore this strategy can also help with promoting emotional well being.

Attention Autism / Attention Freemantles

The school has been working closely with Gina Davis, who is the creator of Attention Autism. It focuses on making sure that we have truly engaging experiences which the children enjoy, to enable us to  build strong relationships across the whole class group, through shared experiences. Attention Autism can help children to gain skills in toleration of, and engagement with, an adult led agenda. The video evidence that we have collected shows that the strategies used have helped enable children to use their visual learning strengths to access an intervention that generates the motivation for functional, meaningful and spontaneous communication skills.

Intensive Interaction 

Intensive Interaction is an approach (devised by Dave Hewitt PhD and Melony Nind PhD ) used to build and support students use and understanding of communication and social skills as part of everyday life. Use of this strategy teaches the children to enjoy being with other people, to relate, interact and to know communication routines.

Intensive Interaction aims to teach the basic fundamentals of communication as well as helping sociability, cognitive abilities and emotional well-being.

The approach is based on research around how we develop the early communication skills upon which all of our relationships, knowledge and expertise as human beings are founded. But most of all, it’s an enjoyable learning opportunity for both parties!

At Freemantles we actively engage in Intensive Interaction at every opportunity across the whole school, either as a structured session or in an impromptu situation. As a result of the children learning that engaging is fun, they are building the stepping stones for communication. In receiving reciprocal positive interaction the children’s well-being will be further promoted.

In order to promote use of this strategy and to further the understanding of Intensive Interaction, Debbie Stagg is our Intensive Interaction co-ordinator and works alongside parents, staff and students across the school.

Sensory Diets

These tend to be directed by an Occupational Therapist. They are aimed at giving children access to the additional Sensory stimulation that their bodies are craving. There are a variety of ways in which we do this – through offering access to a sensory circuit, or through using particular equipment in the classroom to help the child concentrate. In responding to the sensory demands that the children and young people have we again promote emotional and physical well being.