12th April 2018

ASD: Findings Solutions To Help Your Child

A pragmatic, parental response to his child’s behavioural difficulties results in a charming book – a simple guide that provides effective strategies for supporting successful communication with ASD children.

In Make Your Own Picture Stories for Kids with ASD, Attwood provides parents and professionals with a step by step process for constructing social stories to prepare children for changes in their daily lives. This slim book is a powerful tool for developing communication skills when written decoding, aural comprehension and socio-emotional understanding form barriers for verbal communication.

Anchored in the reality of this one family, this book is reflective of a strategy being successfully utilised by others facing similar challenges. It is a testament to the power of solution-driven engagement with the real-life challenges that parents face on an ongoing basis and the positive impact that this can have on young people and their families.

Kasia Fejcher-Akhtar and Amy Tallantire

12th April 2018

(Research by Anne E Cunningham and Keith E Stanovicz)

“Reading has cognitive consequences that extend beyond its immediate task of lifting meaning from a particular passage” reads the opening sentence of What Reading Does for the Mind - an article based on research undertaken into the impact of the volume of reading on shaping the mind. The paper shares with readers many of the findings that led to the conclusion that reading a lot makes us ‘smarter’.

The researchers analysed the three different categories of language:
  • written (as difficult as scientific articles and as simple as preschool books)
  • words spoken on television shows
  • adult speech in different context varying in formality

  • They examined a standard word frequency count proving that most speech is lexically impoverished when compared to written language. Therefore, for vocabulary growth and, as the rest of this article reveals, for growth in verbal skills and declarative knowledge, avid reading is paramount.

    This study recommends reading from as early as possible as “this very act can help children to compensate for modest levels of cognitive ability by building their vocabulary and general knowledge.”

    It remains for us professionals and parents at home to develop in children habit of reading for educational and developmental benefits and, I add to this list, for pleasure and interest.

    To read this fascinating piece of research click on this link.

    Anne E Cunningham is visiting associate professor in cognition and development in the graduate school of education at the University of California, Berkeley.

    Kasia Fejcher-Akhtar

    8th February 2018

    Three members of staff attended a Flagship lecture at Hertfordshire University delivered by Ros Blackburn, a spokesperson for people with autism. As a school, we have been awarded free access to regularly offered Flagship lectures on the subject of education through our well established and mutually beneficial partnership.

    A witty and highly enjoyable address by Ros highlighted differences between neuro-typical and autistic people in the areas of communication and social interaction. She stressed that teaching conventional speaking to those with ASD is more important than reliance on PECS and Makaton. However, these alternative and augmentative communication systems do support the development of communication.

    In autism, language and communication are two separate entities. Language is only the use of words, whereas communication encompasses functional and sociable exchanges of ideas and feelings. People with ASD need to be motivated to engage in talking for the purpose of communication, there is no sense of accomplishment when small talk feels like social onslaught to them.

    Ros told us that social skills are rules that can be learned and autistic people don’t necessarily want to be sociable, they want to be socially accepted. She described Autistic Spectrum Disorder as a social instinct deficit.

    We have taken on board her highly compelling advice to enhance our practice and to remember when teaching ASD pupils that:
    · If it is obvious to you – you still need to state it
    · Do things with them, don’t do it for them
    · They can only know what they are taught, told and shown
    · Broaden their knowledge and experience – moving away from fixed interests
    · Observe what they do and ask yourself why. When you get it wrong, autistic people will let you know
    · The ASD person may not want the attention of being praised in a social setting and this could make them reluctant to speak in a group situation (it may feel to them like social scalding)

    Never make autism the excuse but help the person overcome the problems caused by it.

    Reflection after Logical and Illogical, Information and Insight into Autism by Ros Blackburn

    Anu, Angela and Kasia

    11th September 2017

    Research in learning profiles of premature babies reveals that these children are often present with complex needs and permutation of disabilities. As these pupils are declared to be “wired differently”, they learn differently too thus requiring teachers to teach differently, and the schools’ leadership to search for effective new ways to expand the existing portfolio of practice.

    The debate supported by a neuroscience review of the current state of educational provision for prematurely born children calls for a greater understanding of their unique challenges and their origins to influence positively potential teaching styles and interventions.

    The challenges for schools, mainstream and special, are to remove barriers for learning (something not often practiced in the UK) suggesting the benefits of deferred or delayed school entry as many prematurely born children (and SEN pupils, I would like to add) are not developmentally ready to follow a school’s daily routine: to sit for a period of time, to be attentive and learn as part of a larger group.

    The Collett School’s solution to remove some of these barriers to learning is to bring home to school by adapting a fluid teaching style throughout the day and transforming the physical environment so that it oozes with homely features and exudes a feeling of home, security and coziness.

    This response has been inspired by 'Born Too Soon' by Barry Carpenter and Jo Egerton

    Current R&D Research

    Current R&D programmes and courses ongoing by members of St Luke's School staff, which draw on theoretical and practice-based studies that inform teaching and learning in school:

    National Professional Qualification in Executive Leadership (NPQEL)
    Stephen Hoult-Allen (T)

    National Professional Qualification in Senior Leadership (NPQSL)
    Kasia Fejcher-Akhtar (T)