Strategies to support the curriculum
The curriculum is supported by the following strategies. These are used for specific pupils to help enhance their learning / communication.
The Picture Exchange Communication System was developed over 20 years ago that allows children and adults with autism and other communication difficulties to initiate communication.
PECS begins with teaching students to exchange a picture of a desired item with a teacher, who immediately honours the request. For example, if they want a drink, they will give a picture of 'drink' to an adult who directly hands them a drink. Verbal prompts are not used, thus encouraging spontaneity and avoiding prompt dependency. The system goes on to teach discrimination of symbols and how to construct simple "sentences." Ideas for teaching commenting and other language structures such as asking and answering questions are also incorporated.
For more information visit www.pecs.org.uk
Founded in the early 1970s by the late Eric Schopler, Ph.D., TEACCH developed the concept of the "Culture of Autism" as a way of thinking about the characteristic patterns of thinking and behavior seen in individuals with this diagnosis.
The "Culture of Autism" involves:
- Relative strength in and preference for processing visual information (compared to difficulties with auditory processing, particularly of language).
- Frequent attention to details but difficulty understanding the meaning of how those details fit together.
- Difficulty combining ideas.
- Difficulty with organizing ideas, materials, and activities.
- Difficulties with attention. (Some individuals are very distractible, others have difficulty shifting attention when it's time to make transitions.)
- Communication problems, which vary by developmental level but always include impairments in the social use of language (called "pragmatics").
- Difficulty with concepts of time, including moving too quickly or too slowly and having problems recognizing the beginning, middle, or end of an activity.
- Tendency to become attached to routines, with the result that activities may be difficult to generalize from the original learning situation and disruptions in routines can be upsetting, confusing, or uncomfortable.
- Very strong interests and impulses to engage in favoured activities, with difficulties disengaging once engaged.
- Marked sensory preferences and dislikes.
The long-term goals of the TEACCH approach are both skill development and fulfillment of fundamental human needs such as dignity, engagement in productive and personally meaningful activities, and feelings of security, self-efficacy, and self-confidence. To accomplish these goals, TEACCH developed the intervention approach called "Structured Teaching."
The principles of Structured Teaching include:
- Understanding the culture of autism.
- Developing an individualized person- and
family-centered plan for each client or student, rather than using a standard
- Structuring the physical environment.
- Using visual supports to make the sequence of daily
activities predictable and understandable .
- Using visual supports to make individual tasks understandable.
For more information visit http://www.teacch.com/whatis.html
Can you imagine what it would be like if you couldn't understand speech?
How would you cope? It's a situation which is similar to the one you might experience if you were in a foreign country and couldn't speak or understand the language.
What would you do? You would probably begin to gesture to explain what you wanted, and hope that others would understand your gestures and would gesture back. You might also start to draw pictures and diagrams to help get your messages across.
Makaton combines all these elements in a highly successful teaching approach.
How was Makaton developed?
Firstly a research project identified the words that we all use most frequently and need in everyday conversation. Then signs from British Sign Language, used by the deaf community in this country, were matched to these words, so that as you speak you sign and speak at the same time. Signs are often pictorial and convey the meaning more easily than words, which are more abstract.
How is Makaton used?
Makaton users are first encouraged to communicate using signs, then gradually, as a link is made between the word and the sign, the signs are dropped and speech takes over.This might surprise you, as you would perhaps think that signing would prevent speech developing. But research suggests very strongly that this is not the case. In fact the opposite occurs, as signing seems to positively encourage speech development. Many hundreds of thousands of children and adults have been helped significantly in this manner.
Who uses Makaton?
Makaton is an internationally recognised communication programme, used in more than 40 countries worldwide.Most Makaton users are children and adults who need it as their main means of communication. But everyone else who shares their lives will also use Makaton. These include the families, carers, friends and professionals such as teachers, speech and language therapists, social workers, playgroup staff, college lecturers, instructors, nurses, and psychiatrists. However, it doesn't stop there. Makaton is rapidly spreading into the wider community, with requests for training to use signs and symbols from supermarket staff, youth groups, theatre groups, bus drivers, the police, museum staff, people working in sports and leisure, faith communities.
The UK government recently legislated that public and commercial services must provide access to important information for everyone, including sign and symbol users. This can be achieved by translation into Makaton symbols and signs.
For example, it is important to understand what a visit to the dentist is all about, to understand about the medication you are taking and its effects, to become aware of danger such as fire or danger from electricity, to have confidence to travel on public transport, and to have access to public buildings.
For more information visit http://www.makaton.org/about/about.htm