12. Autism Resourced Provision at Primrose Hill

AUTISM RESOURCED PROVISION (THE GROVE) AT PRIMROSE HILL

Primrose Hill Primary School has been commissioned by Camden to provide specialist support for EHCP children with a diagnosis of Autism (ASD) who would not manage in a mainstream setting, but for whom Special School is not appropriate.

The ARP has 2 students per year group, starting with Reception in September 2019 and admitting no more than 2 more children each following year, so that by September 2025 we will have 14 ARP children on role. ARP places for EHCP children with a diagnosis of ASD will be allocated directly by Camden (see Admissions section).

We aim to provide children with specialist support to meet their needs as set out in their EHCP. This includes access to additional therapy rooms for interventions and group work, access to the Soft Play and Sensory Room, support from health (including Speech and Language, occupational Therapy), and a higher ratio of adult support depending on the specific child’s needs. We are an inclusive school and the aim for each of our ARP children is ultimately to include them as much as is appropriate within the mainstream class with additional support and differentiation. Additional support in class might include the use of visuals, a workstation, communication system (such as PECs), and individualised learning plans.

Our specialist support of children within the ARP is informed by the TEACCH & SPELL framework outlined by the National Autism Trust. SPELL stands for Structure, Positive approaches and expectations, Empathy, Low arousal, Links as detailed below.

Structure

Structure makes the world a more predictable, accessible and safer place. We can support children on the autism spectrum in creating structured environments using visual information. Structure can aid personal autonomy and independence by reducing dependence (eg prompting) on others. Environments and processes can be modified to ensure each child knows what is going to happen and what is expected of them, reducing anxiety.

Positive (approaches and expectations)

We must seek to establish and reinforce self-confidence and self-esteem by building on natural strengths, interest and abilities.

Expectations should be high but realistic and based on careful assessment.

Many autistic people may avoid new or potentially aversive experiences, but through the medium of structure and positive, sensitive, supportive rehearsal can reduce their level of anxiety, learn to tolerate and accept such experiences and develop new horizons and skills.

Empathy

We must try to see the world from the standpoint of the autistic child, knowing what it is that motivates or interests them but importantly what may also frighten, preoccupy or otherwise distress them. This is a key ingredient in the ‘craft’ of working with people on the autism spectrum.
Making efforts to understand, respect and relate to the experience of the autistic child must underpin our attempts to develop communication and reduce anxiety. The quality of the relationship between the person and supporter is of vital importance. Effective supporters are calm, predictable, good humoured, empathetic and analytical.

Low arousal

Approaches and the environment need to be calm and ordered in such a way so as to reduce anxiety and aid concentration. There should be as few distractions as possible, paying attention to noise levels, colour schemes, odours, lighting and clutter, for example. Some children may need more time to process information, especially speech. Clear information should be given in the medium best suited to the individual with care taken not to overload or bombard.

Some people may seek out sensory experiences. This is best achieved with an approach where the input can be regulated.

Low arousal should not be confused with ‘no arousal’. It is of course desirable that people are exposed to a wide range of experiences but that this is done in a planned and sensitive way. It is recognised that for the most part the individual may benefit most in a setting where sensory and other stimulation can be reduced or controlled. Supplementary relaxation and arousal reduction therapies, multi-sensory rooms, sensory diet etc may be helpful in promoting calm and general well-being and in reducing anxiety.

Links

Creating and maintaining links between the individual, their wider support networks and the community