The best interventions for children with Autistic Spectrum Condition in a primary schools?

By Beata Bednarska

Hi my SEND Champs,

My name is Beata Bednarska and I’m passionate about helping special needs children to become independent and happy adults. I’m the trainer, mentor and a coach. I help schools to organise their special needs provision, educate staff and I support parents.

My main mission is to develop the positive, proactive, child centred and evidenced based interventions and good practice standards at schools. To help teachers, teaching staff and leaders to incorporate simple but crucial strategies that will supercharge your children cognitively, socially, physically and emotionally.

It’s my dream to give all parents the necessary knowledge, tools and strategies in order to help their children to thrive at school but also at home so you can spend quality time with your child. I know how you can help your child! After all, you are your child first teacher and you know your child best.

Today I will tell you about the best interventions that would change your special needs provision forever. I am very confident saying that as I changed and improved my school and influenced several other.  

People ask me very often…

“What interventions should I use at school if I have children with different needs? Some children have learning difficulties and the others communication or language problems. I have children with autism, Dyspraxia, global learning, challenging behaviour. Surely, you can’t possibly address all this needs by using one intervention?! And how would you incorporate it into whole school provision where all children benefit from it?!”

Let’s answer these questions first.

As you probably suspected it’s NOT possible to address all the needs with one universal intervention. What you really need it’s a combination of several different interventions. It’s not possible to solve and address your children problem quickly. We need to choose what our school is going to use, train staff, prepare resources and consequently implement chosen approaches. Then, evaluate, improve and enjoy teaching your kids 🙂

Interventions that I’m going to list below will benefit all your children at school, not only those with special needs. 

Let’s think for a while about the areas of development that we need to address when teaching children with special needs. We have four broad areas of child needs that have to be covered:

  1. Communication and integration
  2. Cognition and Learning
  3. Social, emotional and mental health difficulties
  4. Sensory and physical needs

So what interventions would cover these ares of child development? 

It’s UP to YOU 🙂 

However, you need to consider a couple of things:

  • you know all the legal requirements;
  • you follow good practice guidelines;
  • you understand the areas of child difficulties;
  • you have chosen approaches that are child centred and evidence based;
  • the chosen approach is well researched and safe to use;
  • you can measure children progress, etc.;

If you are a Headteacher, SENCO, Autism Lead Practitioner or other professional who ought to organise school SEN provision or who work with children with ASC you probably struggle to choose from many different approaches. You’re not sure which intervention will benefit all children and how to incorporate it into your special needs provision. 

If you are the parent of a child with ASC, then you should check this out so you would be able to work in a partnership in your local school and influence their choices or try these interventions at home.

In 2014 I read a book which really inspired me to analyse all the approaches and to make a choice by examining them against above criteria. Efrosini Kalyva – a psychologist, practitioner, an academic writer specialising in education and treatment of individuals with special educational needs, trainer of professionals’ who work with children with SEN in a variety of settings, etc. – listed and categorised every possible approach when dealing with child with Autistic Spectrum Condition. 

She divided all known approaches into 7 different groups. In total, she described 26 of them highlighting their positives and negatives sides.

This is how she distributed them into groups:

Cognitive and behavioural approaches:

  • Applied behaviour analysis
  • TEACCH programme
  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy
  • Denver Health Sciences Programme
  • DIR/Floortime method
  • LEAP-Learning Experiences: An Alternative Programme for Preschoolers and Parents
  • Miller method

Approaches for Developing Alternative Communication

  • Social Stories
  • Circle of Friends

Approaches for Developing Alternative Communication

  • Pictures Exchange Communication System
  • Sign language

Approaches Based on Play

  • Non-directive play
  • Pivotal response training
  • Integrated play groups

Sensory -motor Approaches

  • Music Therapy
  • Sensory integration
  • Auditory integration
  • Visual therapies
  • Facilitated communication
  • Higashi school or Daily Life therapy

Biochemical Approaches

  • Pharmacotherapy
  • Other biochemical therapies

Other Approaches

  • Psychoanalytic psychotherapy
  • Holding therapy
  • Son-Rise Programme or Options

If you are in charge of your autism provision at school, above book is a must to read. Just be aware that I am going to use types of approaches which are designed especially for children and young people with Autism and are recommended in NICE (National Institution for Health and Care Excellence) and AET (Autism Education Trust) report. This the collection I used in my school:

  1. TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication handicapped Children)
  2. DTT (The Discrete Trail Training)
  3. Lego based Therapy
  4. PECS (Pictures Exchange Communication System) 
  5. Social stories
  6. Sensory stacks/breaks 
  7. Talkabout
  8. The Incredible 5-Point Scale
  9. Non-Directive Play

Why am I using these interventions?

I promise you, if you will use above interventions you will cover all four areas of child needs and help them to thrive. 

Have I mentioned that it’s easy to implement all of them in your school?

If you need more details about how to do it then maybe I can write another post but focusing on the implementation.

Before I finish, I must tell you that you need something else in your school. The basic of basic which is your special needs working ethos, rules and standards. In other words,  ‘you need to be on the same page’. You must FOLLOW the FRAMEWORK. I suggest SPELL framework which was created by the National Autistic Society. With this framework you will be able to understand and respond to the needs of your children. Without SPELL you will more likely fail.

Until next time