At Willow Bank School, we recognise that while our pupils each have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) for social, emotional and mental health needs (SEMH), they may also have additional specific learning difficulties which prevent them from making the progress needed for academic success.
A high proportion of our pupils display dyslexic type difficulties. Similarly, a high proportion have a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and a relatively smaller proportion have a diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
The Rose Review (2009) recognised that dyslexia as a specific learning difficulty exists and that professional expertise should be used to identify those pupils who have dyslexia and develop effective ways to help learners overcome its effects. The review constructed the following working definition of dyslexia and its characteristics:
Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling.
Characteristic Features of Dyslexia
- Phonological awareness.
- Verbal memory.
- Verbal processing speed.
Facts About Dyslexia
Dyslexia occurs across the range of intellectual abilities. It is best thought of as a continuum, not a distinct category, and there are no clear cut-off points. Co-occurring difficulties may be seen in aspects of language, motor co-ordination, mental calculation, concentration and personal organisation, but these are not, by themselves, markers of dyslexia.
What We Do
At Willow Bank School, we closely monitor and assess our pupils to identify those who we think may have dyslexic difficulties so that the most appropriate interventions can be put into place. 1:1 interventions are available to those pupils most in need. These take place on a weekly basis and follow ‘The Active Literacy Kit’ and ‘Units of Sound’ which are multi-sensory, sequential programmes based on the Orton-Gillingham Approach.
Intervention and pupils' progress are recorded as:
A good indication of the severity and persistence of dyslexic difficulties can be gained by examining how the individual responds or has responded to well founded intervention. (Rose 2009)
As a school we take a holistic approach to dyslexia, not only as a specific learning difficulty but also as a learning difference as those pupils affected respond well to a range of learning styles, namely multi-sensory, kinaesthetic, ‘hands on learning’. As a result, all our pupils enjoy a curriculum which is modified and mind friendly, making it appropriate to their individual needs. Our staff work hard to deliver work creatively and to allow pupils to record their work using methods such as mind maps, writing frames, power point presentations and other forms of technology.
Useful Web Links
British Dyslexia Association (BDA) - www.bdadyslexia.org.uk
PATOSS - www.patoss-dyslexia.org/
Dyslexia Action - www.dyslexia-action.org.uk
2. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
The ADHD Foundation defined ADHD as:
ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is a neurological condition that affects a young person’s concentration, impulse control and time awareness.
People with ADHD can be impulsive, forgetful, and easily distracted without meaning to be; they may interrupt frequently, and not pay attention. Some will be Hyperactive. Young people with ADHD need a consistent approach, regular and immediate feedback, to help stay on track, make progress and to be rewarded for good behaviour.
What We Do
At Willow Bank School we embrace a multi-sensory approach to learning activities to help pupils stay on task and remain interested in the lesson. For direct instruction, props and visual aids also help pupils with ADHD to remain focused. The establishment of eye contact and use of the pupils’ name helps to maintain concentration.
Movement breaks are essential for a pupil with ADHD along with ‘chunked’ tasks rather than extended activities that require sustained attention. Stress relievers can be helpful in supporting a pupil to retain focus.
Useful Web Links
ADHD Foundation - https://www.adhdfoundation.org.uk/
ADDvanced solutions - http://www.addvancedsolutions.co.uk/
3. Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
The National Autistic Society defines ASD as:
Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others. Autistic people see, hear and feel the world differently to other people. If you are autistic, you are autistic for life; autism is not an illness or disease and cannot be 'cured'. Often people feel being autistic is a fundamental aspect of their identity.
What We Do
At Willow Bank School we are aware that our pupils who have a diagnosis of ASD may have difficulties with managing changes to routine: whenever possible, we prepare pupils for known changes.
Individual interests and strengths are identified as soon as possible so that learning experiences are as enjoyable as possible.
Communication and social skills sessions help pupils to interact more confidently, dedicated CSS sessions along with daily modelling of appropriate social interactions helps to develop positive relationships.
Visual supports with learning are an important aid for pupils: as well as visual imagery, some pupils find task schedules a helpful resource in lessons.
A combination of one to one support, with self-help strategies encourages autonomy and responsibility for becoming an independent learner.
Useful Web Links
National Autistic Society - https://www.autism.org.uk/
Autism and Asperger Society - https://www.sthelensgateway.info/organisations/autism-and-asperger-society/