The GTC implements strategies proven to be extremely effective for children with Autism. These strategies aim to assist in developing emotional wellbeing, communication, social understanding, sensory needs, independence and academic progress.
Each child in the Centre participates in a curriculum tailored to meet their individual needs. All staff receive training to ensure that a consistent approach to the strategies is used throughout the GTC. Some of the Key Strategies and Interventions we use are:
The TEACCH approach uses a system that helps to structure the day and give more meaning to the environment in a very visual way. This use of pictures enables the children to more readily understand their surroundings. It also aims to help children to generalise their learning and learn to accept change in structured way. 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
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. A social story can be used to provide understanding to a situation and is not used specifically as a tool to manage behaviour.
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.
These are usually directed by an Occupational Therapist. They are aimed at giving children access to the additional Sensory stimulation that their bodies require. There are a variety of ways in which we do this; – the children do sensory circuits integrated into their lunch time play, they may use particular equipment in the classroom to help the child concentrate for example a special vest that applies deep pressure and may help calm the sensory system. In responding to the sensory demands that the children and young people have we again promote emotional and physical well being. We have a sensory room to provide individuals with the opportunity to stimulate, develop or balance their sensory systems or reload (relax). The occupational therapist plays a fundamental role in sensory difficulties and advises on programmes.
The GTC is a low distraction environment with a combination of individual work stations available for use as well as teaching in small group sizes. In order to reduce stimulation from visual input the centre is neutral in colour and aims to provide a calming environment.
Adults sit behind pupils while they work to further minimise distraction by being out of the child's line of sight. The environment is calm and ordered to reduce anxiety and aid concentration.
We teach from a multi-sensory curriculum focused on the five core sensory systems (vision, taste, smell, auditory and tactility) to provide pupils with positive sensory experiences to learn how to use and adapt their senses. Pupils are warned of possible sensory stimuli they may experience eg: loud crowded places such as the lunch hall and visitors to the centre.
Social Skills are specifically taught. It might include how to greet somebody, how to initiate a conversation, taking turns and maintaining appropriate eye contact. There is direct teaching of what to do (or what not to do) in certain situations, mainstream peers are encouraged to lead playground games, showing how to play, and offering help. To support with the generalisation of social skills, opportunities are planned to generalise skills in real life situations.