Gowerton Comprehensive Schools houses the recently opened unit for pupils Asperger’s Syndrome. Asperger’s syndrome is a form of autism, which is a lifelong disability that affects how a person makes sense of the world, processes information and relates to other people. Asperger’s syndrome is mostly a 'hidden disability'. This means that you can't tell that someone has the condition from their outward appearance. People with the condition have difficulties in social communication; social interaction; social imagination. People with Asperger’s Syndrome have fewer problems with speaking and are often of average, or above average, intelligence. They may have additional learning difficulties such as dyslexia and dyspraxia or other conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. (Taken from - nas.org.uk)
The unit currently has 16 pupils ranging from Year 7 – 11 and most pupils integrate with their mainstream peers for the majority of lessons.
The pupils vary widely in their needs and abilities and each have strengths, needs and preferred ways of accessing the curriculum. As the pupils are educated for the majority of the time alongside their mainstream peers, work often needs to be adapted or differentiated so the pupil with Asperger’s Syndrome, like the pupil with different or no educational needs, can understand and participate appropriately and acquire the desired skills and knowledge being taught. Reaching all learners can be a challenge particularly when the needs vary so greatly within a class.
All the staff within Gowerton school are aware of the wide range of pupils that they teach. Close liaison exists between SENCO, STF teachers and subject teachers and IEPs are available on the school drive so are therefore accessible and implemented into the teaching of the children. All staff have some understanding of the aspects of Asperger’s Syndrome and the concise and literal nature of these pupils so they are aware that verbal language, body language and general communication should be carefully considered when working with such pupils. One teacher decided to make lessons more fun and interactive for all pupils by teaching mainly through the Interactive Promethean Board where lessons, video clips, journals among others were assembled in software such as PowerPoint to give the children a multi sensory lesson as an alternative to the text book.
What made this unique to the pupil was that the STF teacher was able to copy the lessons from the History teacher’s lessons onto a CD for the pupil to access at a speed and in a way that was suitable to him as often as he liked until he fully understood the concept. In addition to the break time sessions where pupils have the opportunity to access computers and reinforce their learning the pupil was able to take the lesson home to study at his leisure and include his parents also, so further developing the link between home and school.As a result of the CD and lessons taught through PowerPoint and the like the pupil has developed a better understanding of the topics and is happier and more confident in the lessons. The pupil has been allowed to access the subject and resource as works best for him and this has had a positive impact on his self esteem. This strategy has suited this pupil and will be considered as a tool for learning for other areas.