Non-Verbal students study a programme of Literacy and Numeracy, based on the Adult National Curriculum pre-Entry Milestones in Skills for Life. The core timetable is adjusted to reflect their need to learn and develop Life Skills and English and Maths are embedded into these sessions. Learning activities include regular cooking and food preparation sessions, trips ‘out and about’ to go shopping and use money, developing cleaning skills and taking part in sports and yoga exercise. All these skills can be accredited using the ASDAN Towards Independence Scheme which has been developed specifically for post-16 learners with SpLD and contains a range of units including ‘Everyday Living’, ‘Yogacise’ and ‘Knowing Myself’ that accredit their development of independent living skills whilst engendering a sense of achievement. Some learners have also been able to access work experience placements on a part-time basis.
ASC Specialist Teaching
All staff receive CPD regarding strategies that help autistic children learn effectively. These include approaches that work equally well in the Home:
- Work with routines and tight structures: the strange and unexpected unsettles many students with ASD.
- Provide visual plans, timetables and instructions. Similarly, lesson content should be as visual as possible. Visual frameworks, symbol or instructions and clear written instructions really help students to understand and keep track of their progress and work independently.
- Never assume you have been understood – check.
- Use every learning opportunity to practise social skills, emotional recognition, numeracy and communications: repetition in a range of contexts assists the embedding of learning.
- Keep it simple and explicit. Students with ASD hear words literally and find ‘wordy’ instructions confusing and have difficulty with abstract terms or metaphors. Similarly, absolutely refrain from irony.
- Sometimes students need to understand ‘implications ‘or the concept of ‘degree’ and ‘variation’ to prevent them developing intolerance and extreme viewpoints. They may also need additional support imagining situations or with invention. Support this type of learning with visual aids.
- Do not assume skills learnt in one subject area will be transferred to another. ASD students need to repeat skills learnt in a variety of contexts to embed their total understanding.
- Be patient: do not expect instant answers. Many ASD students need to evaluate and process each element or word before arriving at understanding. Allow silent time (additional instruction may only confuse) while students process the challenge or the task set.
- Rewards, mnemonics, rhyming rules and story-board rules all help ASD students maintain focus and thereby help them learn and memorise information and complete tasks they find uninteresting.