Autistic Spectrum Condition affects individuals in four main areas:

1) Social interaction and understanding
2) Communication
3) Rigidity of thought
4) Sensory Processing

At Beacon Hill we want to promote effective communication for all our young people.

ASC affects each individual in  different ways . As with all of our students at Beacon Hill,  the way in which we support our students,  in regards to communication and how they access their learning,  is differentiated to the individual and their needs.

Communication is an especially important part of the curriculum and has a specific whole school emphasis. Each individual student will be provided with an appropriate method of communication individual to their needs e.g. PECS / IPAD- Proloquo 2Go
programme etc. School have begun to use the SCERTS approach to identify the communication stage of each student and therefore identify and set appropriate targets for the student e.g. set desired and annual outcomes and therefore PLPS targets. Two staff have completed the training and have begun cascading information to all staff as well as supporting others using this training. NHS Speech therapists services continually work with and support staff to ensure that communication is taught, used and developed inevery aspect of daily life both in and out of school. Staff will meet with the multi-disciplinary team each term and set joint targets for identified students. Additionally NHS Speech therapists work with students in both 1-1 and group work sessions when appropriate.

We adopt assessment practices, including the creation and implementation of our Beacon Hill communication and language assessment tool, which will enable us to and always strive to present each student with appropriate communication systems.
Across the whole school we use Team Teach positive handling strategies to help staff and students recognise and understand the communicative nature of behaviour. Peer to peer interaction is encouraged and planned for at every opportunity.

Students are taught to use communication in a variety of contexts and or a variety of means.

Teaching activities take place both within school and out in the community helping students to generalise their skills as well as learn to
communicate with a variety of communicative partners.

The Development of Social Relationships and Social Ability/ Understanding .

It is our aim to enable access to an inclusive setting for all pupils within the school. It is primarily the environment presented to pupils with ASC that initiates difficulties. In order to enable social inclusion we aim to provide autism specific environments and a wider autism friendly environment, throughout the school. We make regular use of the local community and initiate and support links to the home in order to develop further social competence. Specifically we will:

  • Develop communication from the early stages of interaction, such as joint attention, through to social discourse between child and adult and student and peer.
  • Emphasise the development of shared and group activity.
  • Use sensory diet programmes for students to help them cope with the social implications of social interaction.
  • Provide integration with peer groups both within school and within main-stream schools when appropriate for individuals.
  • Promote social interaction and understanding when ever possible both through planned and spontaneous activities. The use of SCERTS assessment and targets supports this.
  • Teach appropriate ways of social interaction within a variety of contexts. e.g. how to greet others appropriately/ how to initiate a request for help .
  • Use visual structure, symbol/word timetables, PECS, communications devices- where appropriate, reward systems and child centred planning.
  • Use social stories, which may be supported by photographs, pictures and symbols.
  • Use Team Teach behaviour management strategies to develop students knowledge of emotions both in themselves and in others.
  • The use and teaching of the use of SCERTS emotion cards in every classroom to support emotional recognition and regulation .
  • Focus/emphasise the recognition, control and expression of emotions. As well as work upon empathy.
  • Use functional behavioural analysis procedures to address inappropriate behaviours, giving due consideration to environmental and bio-behavioural factors.

Students with autism tend to have one style of learning and often show mono- tropism i.e. they can not cope with more than one form of information at one time and will focus on one form, blocking off other sources.  Due to their flexibility of thought young people with ASC need help to recognise emotions both within themselves and in others. The young people will also need to be taught a meaningful and appropriate way of expressing these emotions.
The social implications of transition both to and within school e.g. form classroom to classroom are carefully considered and planned for. Students are prepared and supported according to their individual needs e.g. staffing, social stories etc.

Development of Communication.

The difficulties described previously in regards to communication above mean people with autism have to work harder to understand how to interact with others. The difficulties and abilities are unique to each individual. Each individual student will be provided with an appropriate method of communication individual to their needs e.g. PECS communication books / IPAD- Proloquo programme etc. NHS Speech therapists services work with students in both 1-1 and group work sessions when appropriate. They continually support staff to ensure that communication is taught, used and developed in every aspect of daily life both in and out of school.

The following practices will be addressed as appropriate to individual need.

  • Use of Speech and Language Therapy services
  • Termly joint goal setting with Speech and Language services
  • Development of the attention process (awareness of attention difficulties, switching attention, joint attention, joint closure, structuring of tasks and management of the environment as necessary to students needs).
  • Social interaction ( following principles laid down by Nind and Hewett)
  • Visual structure (in timetables and presentation of activities)
  • Use of PECS, communication books , Makaton , On body signs and communication devices if appropriate.
  • Limited use of verbal language by staff (limited but essential language)
  • Development of spoken language/PECS/ signing in children.
  • Use of Narrative colours across the whole school.
  • Use of key rings/ timetables/ help/ toilet symbols etc consistently across school
  • Planned communication opportunities both in and out of the classroom, e.g. out in the community, peer to peer interaction etc to ensure skills are transferred and maintained in a variety of contexts.

Sensory Processing

The central nervous system (brain) processes all the sensory information sent from various sensory systems in the body and helps to organize, prioritize and understand the information. Using this information the body responds appropriately. Throughout our bodies we have various sensory receptors, which pick up on sensory stimuli. Our hands and feet contain the most receptors. Mostly the processing of sensory information is automatic. Young people with autism and other SEN can have trouble in the organisation and processing of this sensory information. This can lead to confusion, stress and presentation of challenging behaviours-behaviours that challenge themselves and/ or others.

This confusion can occur in one or more of the sensory system – sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. Listed below are the 8 different systems linked to the five senses; 1) Vestibular (balance) system 2) Proprioception (body awareness) system 3) Olfactory (smell) system 4) Visual (sight) system 5) Auditory (hearing) system 6) Tactile (touch) system 7) Gustatory (taste ) system 8) Introceptive (awareness of internal processes) system. This a is sense that connects us with far reaching influence on many different aspects of life such as body awareness e.g motor initiation, , self care e.g. toileting, social participation e.g attachment- , emotional regulation e.g. empathy, cognition e.g. memory/ attention and many more.

It is our aim to encourage children to be independent learners and to be able to recognise, monitor and control their own sensory needs in a positive way. Aiming to ensure the student develops control of their behaviour and emotions and increase their ability to access to a wider range of learning opportunities . Staff will do this through the strategies listed below;

Work in conjunction with the Occupational therapist and multi disciplinary team. 

  • Use of a ‘sensory diet’. This is a specific schedule of sensory activities designed to help the student remain calm, relaxed, attentive and able to access their learning. 
  • Provide the activities stated within the ‘sensory diet’ throughout the school day. 
  • Staff will support and provide opportunities for students to access the sensory activities on a timetabled and / or spontaneous basis. 
  • Promotion, recognition and acknowledgement of independence in regards to Self regulation and control of own sensory needs. 
  • Use of the sensory integration room. In conjunction with the occupational therapist staff aim to; Understand: the behaviours.
  • Take out: modify the environment – this may not always be possible and in the long term we want to help the person develop tolerance of the environment 
  • Put in: calming or arousing activities – differentiated depending on the person’s sensory needs  Teach: self regulation, coping strategies, replacement behaviours – this is a long term aim and won’t happen overnight.
  • Development and implement individual positive behaviour management plans which include the use of sensory strategies for each individual student. 
  • Seek professional help: from a trained therapist if we think our pupils have sensory difficulties.  
  • Use of the Sensory Integration room and its equipment e.g. sensory swing etc as part of a student’s sensory diet as part of timetabled activities and as a reactive strategy in response to any behaviours displayed by students

These  practices will be addressed as appropriate to individual need.