What we do for children on the Autistic Spectrum
Many children experience some areas of difficulty during the course of their education, and all staff at Gidea Park Primary School are committed to finding ways of supporting children to access and make progress in their learning. Listed below, are some of the ways your child might be supported if they are on the autistic spectrum:
- Visual timetables or other forms of schedule e.g. ‘now’ and ‘next’ (or ‘now’, ‘next’ and ‘then’) – achievable tasks with set structures.
- Timers as a visual representation of when a task needs to be finished.
- Use of rewards.
- Bridging transitions, e.g. careful placement of drawers and coat pegs to lessen anxiety at busy times of the day when everyone is going to their drawer or collecting their coat.
- A designated carpet spot (often close to the teacher) – this will lessen a child’s anxiety about where to sit.
- A seat away from persistent noises such as the noise of a fan etc.
- Opportunities to take ‘time out’ in a quiet area.
- Meeting physical needs, e.g. physical activities such as giving out a pile of heavy exercise books, sensory toys or fiddle objects – these can promote good concentration for some children, as well as being comforting and calming to an anxious child.
- The use of social stories – these help in situations where the rules of social interaction need to be taught.
- Social skills groups, e.g. Lego Therapy in which a group meets on a regular basis and during that time engages in collaborative LEGO brick building activities and other projects, tailored to the skill level of the participants. The tasks are analysed and different responsibilities are assigned to group members (typically these roles are 'director', 'engineer'; 'supplier'; and 'builder'). The team works together to assemble the project with and an emphasis on verbal and non-verbal communication, joint attention and task focus, collaborative problem-solving, sharing and turn-taking (switching roles during the task).
- Preparing for change, e.g. transition to secondary school by looking at various possible common scenarios such as increased amount of homework, taking the bus to school, etc - and ways in which they might be approached.
- Effective communication between adult and child, leading to mutual trust.
How parents/carers can help
- Visit your GP and ask for a referral to a paediatrician to discuss how health services can support your child’s development.
- Leave home in plenty of time so that your child arrives punctually for school – this will enable a positive start to the day.
- Let your child’s teacher know of any issues at home or at school that may affect the way they feel, e.g. an unwell relative.
- Encourage your child to engage in non-preferred activities for a short while with support (e.g. your presence, use of earplugs etc.). Gradually build-up exposure.
- Encourage your child to engage in some physical exercise.
- Discuss how sometimes things do not go according to plan, and that’s okay. Sit down together before an event that might cause stress and come up with a ‘Plan B’ should the unexpected occur.
- Teach relaxation strategies that you can do together with your child – breathing technique, use of calming music, a walk in the park, caring for an animal, calming scentsm, etc.
- Maintain a healthy diet for your child.
- Develop a good sleep routine.
- As well as giving your child some time to be on their own, encourage them to develop trusted friendships – have a friend come round for tea, share toys and celebrate birthdays – even if only in a small way.
- Teach your child that it is okay to make mistakes; what is important is that we learn from them. Smile and laugh often.
For further information about the condition, please visit www.autism.org.uk.
The Sycamore Trust has a lot of support for children and families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder, including:
- Family support: general information on ASD, advice and support. They can attend meetings with families, support them with welfare benefits forms, etc.
- Parent support group: monthly meetings which are parent led.
- Youth clubs: 8-18years (Must have an EHC Plan to access this).
- Kidspace: a free soft play session for children with ASD.
To become a member of Sycamore Trust, there is a small annual fee. For further information you can visit their website at www.sycamoretrust.org.uk.