Differentiated to the Individual
Pupils with an ASD diagnosis can respond in surprising ways to creative teaching methods. Music, in particular, has been found to elicit amazing responses from children with ASD. Many pupils respond far more enthusiastically to a lesson framed musically or rhythmically than they would to a more conventional lesson. Some ASD pupils like the patterns and rhythms of music or chants, and these can benefit from, for example, math lessons phrased in rhyme, or chanted. Making music or singing a song with the rest of the class gives a child a part to play which is predictable and easy to complete yet simultaneously creative, expressive, and inclusive.
Art lessons have benefits both practical and emotional. Some young autistic pupils may struggle with their fine motor skills, for which the simple act of guiding crayons over paper can render a huge improvement. However, as well as honing their motor skills, making drawings allows them to communicate thoughts and feelings they may otherwise struggle to express. Viewing a pupils’ drawing opens a window into interests, preoccupations and emotions which may go unrecognised in a child with ASD, who does not communicate these things in a conventional manner. This can provide the teacher with a greater understanding of the pupil, which is of enormous benefit when it comes to teaching them.
Woodwork is a vocational training program that works directly with each individual child. Our classes are small, with a 1:1 teacher-pupil ratio, thus allowing for concentrated and direct attention. Skills are taught are visual and develop the following skills:
- following directions and taking instructions
- meeting expectations
- hand eye coordination and fine motor skills
- coping skills
- self esteem
Teaching Woodwork allows us to teach and interact with our pupils in a practical way, building them up to be active participants who have a better understanding of what is required to communicate, express, deal with anxiety and be involved with others.
Pupils work on a wide variety of projects based on their abilities and creative needs. Each project is differentiated to meet the needs of the child. This ensures that Woodwork is enjoyed by many of the pupils of St Pauls’.
Pupils very often do not have the words to communicate their feelings, worries, fears, needs and experiences. Play therapy recognises that pupils’ natural form of communication is play, and uses this medium to allow pupils to ‘play out’ these feelings. Pupils are encouraged to draw upon their own resources, imagination and creativity to bring about understanding, change and self-development. This in turn brings about healing and allows pupils to reach their full potential.
Pupils attending play therapy sessions have access to a large selection of toys and creative media, all which have been selectively chosen to encourage imagination, creativity and expression.
Each child is unique and individual, and so this choice of media appeals to pupils of different ages, gender, and interests. The therapist works in a non-directive manner, providing a supportive environment in which pupils can work through their feelings, thoughts and experiences at their own pace.
Structures and boundaries function to keep the child safe in the play room, but freedom of expression is encouraged. The play therapy room is a space where pupils can be themselves, express themselves and learn about themselves without pressure or expectation.
Home Economics in St. Paul’s Special School has been drafted, bearing in mind, the Junior Certificate Home Economics guidelines and the Primary School curricula. Those most relevant areas include SPHE, SESS, Language, Communication, Maths, PE and Art.
The following programmes are taught in Home Economics
- Basic Cookery Food and Nutrition
- Transition Programmes
- Sensory/Food Tasting Sessions
- Work Experience
Within Home Economics, transition programmes are aimed at students who will be leaving St. Paul’s soon. Their purpose is to ease students into the world of independence as adults in a supportive manner.
The current programmes include:
- Retailing (Bag packing in Supervalue)
- Catering (Work experience in Juice Bar)
- Lunch Programme (Ordering snacks/lunch independently in local coffee shops)
Transition Year Programmes (Weekly cookery classes with local TY students)
Pupils benefit greatly from pottery as it encompasses all five senses, and it is a calm and soothing approach in providing sensory stimulation.
Discovering their creative ability as they turn a lump of clay into a beautiful masterpiece develops self-esteem, and builds self-confidence.
Working on pottery projects encourages many of the skills demonstrated in other practical subjects such as Woodwork and Art while having the sensory inputs felt directly through the hands and fingers as the clay is moulded and formed into shapes.
St. Paul’s special school is a registered centre for the delivery of ASDAN Programmes and Qualifications.
ASDAN supports senior pupils to develop skills for learning and for life.
ASDAN Programmes and Qualifications are internationally recognised as providing clear pathways for Learning. They significantly enhance students confidence and self-esteem. ASDAN Learning Programs are student led and focus upon the students individual interests and strengths.
Students currently are participating in the following ASDAN subject areas:
- Home Economics
- Play Therapy
- Classroom led programmes.
The implementation of ASDAN is reviewed annually by In School Management team. During this review, we continually select programmes to best match individual student’s strengths and needs.