Communication approach designed around the individual
Mia is a non-verbal student with severe learning difficulties along with other medical diagnoses. This makes it hard for her to communicate her feelings to staff. This year, the team have been continuing to support Mia using a range of communication approaches – including physical gesturing, Makaton or adapted signs, and most recently Picture Exchange System – and ensuring what we teach is robust and consistent. These have been designed to work together in an inclusive communication approach so that she has choice over which method to use, and the best change of communicating her wants and needs effectively with those around her.
Through a multidisciplinary team approach, led by her Supervisor and Speech and Language Therapist working with Mia’s Tutor, a communication book has been created that allows anyone engaging with Mia to understand how she uses each communication method to full effect, and make it as accessible for her as possible. This means she is able to request for items with reduced prompting, decreasing her dependence on others, and in future will support her gaining a greater range of requests.
Teaching tolerance for better control of health
Charles is a verbal student with severe learning difficulties alongside epilepsy. Recently his epilepsy medication stopped being effective; an EEG was needed to get his condition back under control.
Charles’ tolerance of hospital appointments was low, requiring a member of staff to be present. We wanted Charles’ family to be able to attend appointments independently, particularly the EEG where he needed to tolerate wearing electrodes.
The hospital lent equipment used in an EEG, along with training, to allow us to practise with Charles in school. Gradually, we introduced the different pieces of equipment to Charles, rewarding through a token board for a motivator of his choosing. We started with simple steps, such as rubbing cleanser on a piece of hair, building up over a few weeks to putting the electrodes on and leaving for over 40 minutes while Charles engaged in learning and everyday activities.
We walked Charles’ parents through the process, showing videos taken at each step. Using the token board at the hospital, Charles and his parents had a successful appointment allowing the doctors to collect data to confirm the correct medication. Charles hasn’t had a seizure since and his parents now have the confidence to independently attend medical appointments in the future.