Two girls, Kathleen and Jennifer are both are now at High School, after successful transition. The two girls were very different personalities, one, Kathleen, much more compliant and more able than the other. The other girl, Jennfier, with a great sense of humour, also had a heart complaint, for which finally, after much fighting by the parents, she was able to receive surgery. She was kept in primary school an additional year, as she’d missed so much schooling due to ill health.
Both girls were visual learners, Jennifer was slow to speak and Makaton was used with her when she first came into Nursery. The school also used multisensory techniques and received much support from home. Things they found worked really well:
- A home / school book which went daily between home and school for passing information and saying what the child had been doing at home or school to enable them to key into things that had direct relevance to the child.
- Support from an able and well trained classroom assistant.
- A great deal of direct teaching. It was found that the teacher had to make all the connections for them. They would learn a skill, but be unable to transfer that skill to a different task unless they were shown the relationship.
- Very clear behaviour boundaries. If a thing was not allowed, it had to be not allowed in every situation. Jennifer particularly couldn’t understand that something was OK in one setting but not in another. For example, the school had to stop the lunchtime staff playing hide and seek with her because she thought it was OK to hide from the teachers and her mum at inappropriate times.
- Clear rewards and ‘punishments’. Some would call it bribery! for example, if Jennifer co-operated and did her jobs, then she was allowed to play with the guinea pig at school, or watch Animal Hospital at home. If she didn’t co-operate, then these things were withheld. A reminder of this mostly resulted in the desired response.