Support for autistic schoolchildren

Support for autistic schoolchildren

Support for autistic schoolchildren

Introduction

Autistic pupils have sensory processing differences that can make learning environments very difficult for them to adapt to. This can affect their wellbeing and behaviour, and they remain the pupil group with the highest exclusion rate from education. Most autistic children attend mainstream schools, which very often lack the resources to fully meet their needs.

2021 Award

Heba Al-Jayoosi (CF 2019) is assistant head teacher and inclusion lead at a mainstream primary school in Tower Hamlets, London. This is one of the most socio-economically deprived local authorities in the country, with the highest level of children with complex additional needs nationally.

Heba has been awarded one of our Activate grants to implement a pilot project that uses flexible seating arrangements to support autistic pupils in her primary school. Flexible seating is a sensory-integration based adaptation that allows students to choose where they sit and what type of seat they sit on, helping to meet sensory differences they may have. Sensory integration is an evidence-based approach and used widely to an extended effect within special schools. Mainstream schools tend to lack the knowledge and specialist advice required to implement sensory integration approaches. Flexible seating is a relatively simple adaptation that could easily be incorporated across more mainstream schools.

Heba has already trialled its use on a small scale with success but needs a wider pool of data to advocate this sensory-based approach more widely. She will use her funding to source the furniture and work collaboratively with a highly specialised sensory integration occupational therapist, autistic advocates and academics at UCL CRAE (Centre of Research in Autism Education) to evaluate the pilot. She aims to publish the findings in an academic paper, to be shared with other schools around the country.

Heba’s Fellowship to the USA explored inclusive practices for autistic pupils in mainstream classrooms.

2021 Award

Heba Al-Jayoosi (CF 2019) is assistant head teacher and inclusion lead at a mainstream primary school in Tower Hamlets, London. This is one of the most socio-economically deprived local authorities in the country, with the highest level of children with complex additional needs nationally.

Heba has been awarded one of our Activate grants to implement a pilot project that uses flexible seating arrangements to support autistic pupils in her primary school. Flexible seating is a sensory-integration based adaptation that allows students to choose where they sit and what type of seat they sit on, helping to meet sensory differences they may have. Sensory integration is an evidence-based approach and used widely to an extended effect within special schools. Mainstream schools tend to lack the knowledge and specialist advice required to implement sensory integration approaches. Flexible seating is a relatively simple adaptation that could easily be incorporated across more mainstream schools.

Heba has already trialled its use on a small scale with success but needs a wider pool of data to advocate this sensory-based approach more widely. She will use her funding to source the furniture and work collaboratively with a highly specialised sensory integration occupational therapist, autistic advocates and academics at UCL CRAE (Centre of Research in Autism Education) to evaluate the pilot. She aims to publish the findings in an academic paper, to be shared with other schools around the country.

Heba’s Fellowship to the USA explored inclusive practices for autistic pupils in mainstream classrooms.