We use a wide range of interventions and therapies to meet the diverse needs of our students.
Music therapy is a psychological therapy that provides opportunities for self-expression and social interaction using an expressive medium other than words. It is based on the principal that all humans respond to music, regardless of disability or illness. Evidence shows that many people with special needs, such as autism spectrum disorder, have a special affinity to music due to the way in which they process sound.
In music therapy sessions, pupils have access to a wide range of percussion instruments that they are free to explore. The music therapist builds a relationship with the pupil by ‘joining in’ and supporting their music, either improvising or using familiar songs such as nursery rhymes. Using a flexible, child-led approach, music therapy aims to develop:
- Attention and concentration
- Social skills e.g. eye contact, listening, turn-taking
- Sensory processing
- Gross and fine motor skills
Referrals to music therapy are usually made by the pupil’s teacher, but can be made by others if appropriate. There is a waiting list which is reviewed regularly so that as many pupils as possible can access the music therapy service.
Pupils are offered individual or group music therapy sessions, which may be either short-term or long-term, depending on the pupils’ needs. The music therapist communicates regularly with both staff and parents about each individual’s music therapy.
Please see the following comments from parents regarding our Music Therapy provision:
"My son has always responded to music. The music therapy sessions have increased his awareness of others to a point where he was able to join in songs and simple games. He expresses himself in the sessions through using instruments and sounds. Sometimes we can see his whole range of emotions – but mostly he smiles with joy."
"Owen has always enjoyed music. His music therapy sessions....have allowed him to explore the instruments and to enjoy music even more. Music therapy calms him and allows him to build relationships with other people. Long may it continue!"
"Music therapy has played a key role in Isabel’s development. Isabel’s progress during the music therapy sessions over the last two years has been amazing. She has developed her anticipation skills by vocalising for the next part of a song, moved her head in the direction of the music and developed greater body awareness by exploring instruments with her feet, hands and head. We are so grateful that Isabel has access to such sessions and we have seen her development flourish as a result."
If you have any questions about music therapy, please do not hesitate to contact Rachael.
Music Therapist registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
For further information, see:
Music Therapy in Education – British Association for Music Therapy
TEACCH is a structured work base and visual approach used for students on the Autistic Spectrum. The primary aim of the TEACCH programme is to help to prepare people with Autism to live or work more effectively at home, at school and in the community. Special emphasis is placed on helping people with autism and their families live together more effectively by reducing or removing 'autistic behaviours'. More information about TEACCH can be found on the National Autistic Society website by clicking here.
We have a specialist TEACCH trained TA who develops programmes and supports the delivery of TEACCH for students whom it is appropriate for. We have a specialist TEACCH base where students learn independent skills with the reinforcement of visual strategies.
Our TEACCH TA delivers some small Brick Therapy groups to promote efficient sequencing, communication and team work.
This therapy is a social development programme which helps children and young people with Autism and related social communication difficulties. The programme is based on the highly structured, systematic and predictable nature of brick building play which makes it appealing to children with social communication difficulties who are particularly attracted to systems.
Much more than simply playing with all major brick building brands, the intervention includes the presence of a supporting adult who guides the children and encourages them to address and resolve their problems. Children can learn to communicate with others, express their feelings, change their behaviour, develop problem-solving skills and develop a relationship with the world around them.
Attention Autism is an intervention model designed by Gina Davies, Specialist Speech and Language Therapist. It aims to develop natural and spontaneous communication through the use of visually based and highly motivating activities. Gina’s primary objective is that the sessions are fun and “offer an irresistible invitation to learn”!
Aims of Attention Autism
- To engage attention
- To improve joint attention
- To develop shared enjoyment in group activities
- To increase attention in adult-led activities
- To encourage spontaneous interaction in a natural group setting
- To increase non-verbal and verbal communication through commenting
- To build a wealth and depth of vocabulary
- To have fun!
The intervention is not strictly limited to students with Autism although the name lends itself to this. It is related to any student with the needs above.
Stages of Attention Autism
The Attention Autism programme progresses through a series of stages, building on each skill level. Each new stage is introduced when the group is ready to expand attention skills.
STAGE 1 - FOCUSSING ATTENTION
A bucket is filled with visually engaging objects and toys, aiming to gain the shared attention of the group. The adult leader shows each item to the group and uses simple repetitive vocabulary to comment on the various objects.
STAGE 2 - ATTENTION BUILDING
Visually stimulating activities are shown to the group by the adult leader, aiming to sustain attention for a longer period. The activities are fun, visually engaging and can often involve delightful mess!
STAGE 3 - TURN TAKING AND RE ENGAGING ATTENTION
The adult leader demonstrates a simple activity, often modelled with another adult in the group. Some children are then invited to have a turn but only if they are comfortable to do so. Not every child in the group will get a turn, which then teaches important emotional regulation skills, as well as the essential skills of waiting, turn-taking and learning through modelling.
STAGE 4 - SHIFTING AND RE ENGAGING ATTENTION
Stage 4 aims to develop the skill of engaging and shifting attention. The adult leader demonstrates a simple creative task, and then gives each child an individual kit to copy the task. The children take their kits to a table, complete the task independently, and then everyone returns to the group to show their completed tasks.
More complex skills can be introduced as confidence and social skills develop e.g. sharing materials, working with a partner, problem solving.
Attention Autism principles can then be generalised to curriculum activities (e.g. literacy and numeracy) to facilitate learning and skill development.
This is a programme designed to improve the way children communicate across the curriculum, enabling them to be independent and skillful speakers and listeners. It is delivered to students on a referral basis and is run by our specialist Communication Teaching Assistant who is trained in ELKLAN and delivering the intervention.
Play is the natural medium of self-expression for all children, essential for enabling them to develop physically, emotionally and socially. It fosters the imagination and encourages creativity. It builds confidence and concentration. It helps them to make friends, learn about the world, and make mistakes safely.
Play therapy aims to help children relax and find ways of expressing difficult feelings. It is particularly suitable for children with special needs because it does not rely on spoken language; it allows them to express themselves at their own level through their play, either with words or non-verbally.
In play therapy sessions there is a variety of media on offer - paint and craft materials, a sand tray, clay, puppets, human and fantasy figures to stimulate the imagination, domestic items, some small percussion instruments. Children are invited to choose what they would like to do, and the therapist follows their lead. This gives them the freedom, within safe boundaries, to do whatever is most interesting and helpful to them at the time. A trusting relationship develops, in which children begin to interact and play freely. The therapy process enables them to make decisions, discover how to express powerful feelings safely, explore their difficulties and learn alternative ways of relating to others. They also have fun, and experience acceptance, relaxation, and satisfaction.
A period of play therapy can last between three months and about a year.
For further information see the Play Therapy UK website - https://playtherapy.org.uk