Case study: Tom
Tom* has a diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), obesity, dietary issues, and behavioural difficulties. Tom’s social, emotional and behaviour development are the area’s most significantly impacted by his ASD. He has never felt safe in previous schools and would often run away and refuse to engage in any activity. Tom did not have any trust in adults working in education, and would become aggressive to others. He tended to dwell on negative events, would find it difficult to recall positive experiences, and talk about dark and disturbing things most of the time.
When Tom started at Talocher School, he would isolate himself away from any of his peers. He would refuse to leave his classroom and would spend the day with his headphones on, refusing to interact with staff and other students. Tom would refuse to engage in any activities or socialise with others during break and lunch.
Talocher school focused on building relationships with key staff, and started on a one-to-one basis delivering all his learning. Tom was able to communicate with staff and build his confidence and social skills through offsite activities after having more consistency and routine. He started to engage and focus on the academic tasks given to him in class. Talocher School gradually increased the number of students in his class; he began to interact with them and developed positive relationships with his peers.
Once the class was established and settled, they started to transition into lessons with secondary teachers on the main school site. This involved many changes and was a huge step forward for Tom. Visual strategies were used to support his ability to cope with transitions and the school kept his routine as consistent as possible to reduce anxieties, by using his previous class teacher as support. Tom still had his tutor room as a safe space to go to when feeling anxious. He would participate in most of his lessons and developed a new interest in PE. Tom engaged in a healthy lifestyle regime and followed an improved diet. He now eats less unhealthy meals and snacks, opting for healthier options.
Tom is now in a class with five other students, focusing on his qualifications. He attends a vocational placement twice a week that has several students from other schools and he is able to engage in tasks independently. He has the ambition to work towards his LANTRA qualifications and animal care qualifications. He has achieved a B grade in GCSE English and is working towards others before getting the support from school to transition into a college to support his needs.
Case study: Jason
Jason* has a diagnosis of ASD and difficulties in the areas of emotional, behavioural and social communication. Following a serious incident in his previous school, Jason moved to Talocher School and was diagnosed with pathological demand avoidance (PDA). Jason’s behaviour at home was very problematic, especially when he felt he was not in control. In school he would refuse to complete work and was unkind to his peers and became frustrated towards staff. Jason was unable to control his anxiety levels, especially with other peers, when trying to make friends which would cause aggressive outbursts.
The staff at Talocher School focused on giving Jason the support he needed by providing a quiet space for him to access while providing different opportunities and activities where he would interact positively with his peers. He would make comments to staff about not being good enough and adults thinking he was not a capable learner. Staff used positive reinforcement while celebrating his successes in the school to support with this view.
Jason’s confidence and self-esteem started to grow, along with positive communication with staff and peers. Jason became a good role model to others in his class, showing that he could walk away from difficult situations by using the strategies he’d learnt to prevent aggressive outbursts. His attendance and engagement improved in his lessons, and he showed he had ambitions to gain qualifications.
Jason attended different work experience placements and after receiving 4 GCSE qualifications, started a vocational placement working towards a variety of qualifications. Talocher Schoool supported Jason in creating a CV and he has now left school, earning himself a job from the qualifications he achieved from his time at the school.
*Name changed to protect identity