Craig has diagnoses of Autistic Spectrum Disorder and Learning Disability.
Craig’s previous placement in a community house, solely for his use, broke down due to a significant increase in physically challenging behaviour, which was unable to be managed and supported in the community environment.
Craig had a history of displaying a range of behaviours that can challenge others. These often increased at times of high anxiety, such as when significant life changes occurred for him. Craig demonstrated a wide range of physical, environmental and socially inappropriate behaviours that put Craig and those around him at risk.
Craig could communicate verbally and had a good understanding of verbal communication but struggled with more complex personal subjects, in particular his feelings and emotions. Also, due to his community-based placement, Craig had not engaged in education for some time.
Due to the breakdown in his previous placement and the request to move him to the College as an emergency referral there was no opportunity for a detailed or lengthy transition plan, which meant the move was an extremely anxious time for Craig and meant he initially struggled to settle in to College life.
What support did the College provide to Craig?
The priority in the initial period after he moved to Beechwood College was to build positive working relationships, allowing Craig to become comfortable in his new environment whilst concentrating of developing strategies to help him be able to manage himself more successfully.
Craig was initially given a period of low-demand time that was focused on building rapport, becoming familiar with the new environment and developing positive and beneficial routines to foster his growth and development.
MDT meetings were held in order to plan for the development of the skills that he required. In particular these focused on: the use of Social Stories to help explain many aspects of his life and situation, and the use of countdown calendars to allow him to plan his family contact including visits home which helped to reduce his anxiety over these events.
Ensuring home visits were managed successfully was considered to be particularly important as Craig is close to his family and they were key to Craig feeling that he was loved and happy as well as providing motivation for him to take part in College life.
Another major focus was on his understanding of his emotions and zones of regulation; helping him develop systems that allowed him to identify how he was feeling, understand the source of these feelings, and how he could better regulate and manage these feelings.
Due to being out of education for some time, Craig was put on the PEAC curriculum; a static group that offers a curriculum with more flexibility around how and where a student learns, and focuses on the development of literacy/communication, numeracy, ICT, vocation, personal social development and independence skills.
A TEACCH Transitional Assessment Profile (TTAP) was completed to provide a baseline of his abilities and to provide the evidence for Craig’s strengths and the areas that he needed to develop. Craig began to work on independence, home management, work-related learning and vocational pathways, following a flexible schedule in the classroom which linked to his weekly timetable.
This provided him with a graded exposure to education, allowing him to increase his frequency of engagement as his confidence grew.
What have been the Outcomes for Craig?
Craig has made huge improvements in all aspects of his skills development.
Both his attendance and engagement in the education process have improved considerably. Due to Craig’s progress and his own desire to engage in other classes he now attends the option groups in the afternoon and engages in subjects with other students outside of his tutor group, these include Drama, Art, Horticulture and Multi-skills, all of which he has made progress with.
With the support of the clinical team the College was able to implement a graded behavioural management plan for Craig and he is now able to identify his mood by colour coding, and also regulate his behaviours much more successfully. If Craig identifies he is upset or anxious he is now confident to verbalise to staff his suggestions for controlling these situations such as suggesting he would like a break from an activity, chat with staff, or take some time out in a low stimulus environment.
If his improvement continues it is planned that Craig will move to a community house following his placement at Beechwood College. In the interim Craig continues to work on his self-management and regulation, his communication skills using methods to aid both his receptive and expressive skills, and his independence skills including the use of money, and home management.