As a school we benefit from the support on a number of different therapists that we commission. Not every pupil will receive direct input from the therapists, however we ensure that our staff receive training from the therapists so that their work becomes part of our core offer. Admission into The Pines does not guarantee that your child will be seen by the therapists and the therapists here are in addition to NHS support.
Speech and Language Therapy
Communication is the foundation for all learning. As language and communication difficulties are integral to ASC all lessons have a communication/language focus. Within class staff use PEC’s (picture exchange communication) to support pupils who are pre-verbal or at the early stages of language acquisition. Attention autism sessions are built into lessons with the aim to develop natural and spontaneous communication through the use of visually based and highly motivating activities.
The speech and language therapy service at The Pines school assist learners to develop their functional communication skills as well as develop their expressive and reciprocal communication. We currently employ a speech and language therapist 1 day a week and a speech and language therapy assistant three days a week so even if a child does not receive direct input from the therapist, programmes are devised and reviewed by the therapy team.
We commission an Occupational Therapist three days each week. Our Occupational Therapist works with the pupils to help them to develop functional skills for everyday life in the areas of self-care, life skills, academic pursuits, play and sensory processing differences linked to the pupils ASC diagnosis. Our pupils can present with a range of sensory differences including sensory seeking or sensory defensiveness traits and the occupational therapist works with class teams in a consultative manner to develop strategies to support the pupils and lessen impact upon participation and learning. Assessments are completed by observing the pupils in the classroom and playground environment and obtaining information from parents and teaching staff. The occupational therapist is also involved in delivering staff training on the subject of sensory processing differences and also parent workshops on a range of subjects linked to functional issues faced by pupils.
The school has two dedicated sensory integration rooms (primary and secondary) where sensory integration therapy is delivered if required and staff teams can follow sensory circuit programs designed by the occupational therapist. The rooms include specialist suspended equipment, a ball pit, along with a range of other pieces of equipment to allow the pupils to challenge their somatosensory systems and find the “Just Right Challenge”.
The music therapist attends school two days a week and since the start of the year has worked throughout the majority of the school population from year 1 to year 8 both individually and through small group work and has facilitated therapy in a variety of areas. This includes developing communication, functional vocal development, relationships and attachment, considering mental health, social interaction and group awareness, working with behaviour, developing interpersonal skills, engagement and promoting emotional health and wellbeing. Music therapy is an interactive musical relational process and doesn’t require those participating to have any knowledge or understanding of music, in fact, the focus of sessions is usually on the process of improvising music together and using the music created communicatively to share thoughts, experiences and issues.
Mental Health Learning Mentor
The school also invests in a mental health mentor three days a week. The mentor works with pupils on a weekly basis who are referred by staff and parents to help pupils with mental health and wellbeing. This offers our children a more relaxed personal environment to unwind and talk about anything on their mind.