The social-emotional curriculum: social assistance for pupils on the autism spectrum
This unit examines the importance of developing social and emotional understanding in pupils on the autism spectrum, in order to equip them with the skills to succeed in later life in:
- Further and higher education
This unit covers:
- The importance of developing social and emotional understanding and the ability to relate to others.
- Improving social understanding with role-playing and perspective-taking exercises.
Comic strip conversations
Where were you?Next
Who else was there?Next
What were you doing?Next
What did you say?
What did your teacher say?
What did you think when she said that?
Why is the teacher talking to me? Can't she see I'm busy skipping?Next
What did your teacher think?
Why is the teacher talking to me? Can't she see I'm busy skipping?
Why is Michael ignoring me today? Is he angry with me?Back to start
Peer support: a case study
This case study looks at the system of peer support at Hendon School, a large mainstream secondary school in North London. It features interviews with peer supporters and the pupils receiving support, giving insight into the benefits for all pupils and how the system successfully promotes inclusion.
This video clip relates to task 5 in your PDF of unit 14.Show transcript
Hendon School is a large mainstream secondary school in North London. With a resource provision for students on the autism spectrum. For the past few years the school has been utilising the skills of typically developing students to support pupils from the provision.
Teacher: Can you think a little bit about what is good about being a peer supporter?
Pupil: When you're a peer supporter you get lots of experience in being with children with autism, but also you feel that you've done something good for somebody else who needs more support.
Teacher: Fantastic, anybody else?
My role is to help them in classes and at break times and lunchtimes, social times when they're finding it hard. To make school enjoyable for them and not make it hard for them because some autistic children will find school very hard.
Starting in year seven, the peer supporters receive child line training which includes counselling and active listening skills. This is coupled in training in the understanding of autism.
The support I get when I'm a peer supporter is, if I'm unsure of about what to do, you can ask any of the TA's or Caroline, or someone who knows about autism quite well. So you can ask them and they will be able to sort it out, or advise you on what to do. They will help you.
Caroline Downs ??? Manager of Hendon Resource Provision
The system of peer support has enormous benefits for everybody. In terms of the students being supported - massive benefits. So to have a network of peer supporters in whom we have total confidence, is critical.
Patrick: Don't, don't look.
Pupil 1: Patrick, you're looking at it.
Pupil 2: You shouldn't look at your card remember.
Patrick: Oh no.
If you didn't have a peer supporter then life would be harder because you wouldn't have anyone to rely on. I would actually feel less confident because I'm like thinking to myself ???hmm what's happened to my peer supporters???? or ???why have I got no peer supporters???? it really it would be really weird actually.
Mainstream peers offer social and emotional support to students with autism, but support can also be given in classroom settings.
Parissa is in my maths class and if I got stuck I might ask Parissa and she's quite good at explaining it.
The peer support system at Hendon school has proven successful in terms of inclusion, increasing the independence and social skills of those students being supported, as well as developing emotional intelligence, and a sense of commitment for the supporters.
This clip provides further insight into what's involved in making the peer support system at Hendon School a success. It features input from the manager of Hendon Autism Resource Provision (HARP), Hendon's head teacher, peers supporters and a supported pupil.
This audio clip relates to task 5 in your PDF of unit 14.Show transcript
Lauren ??? Supported Pupil
Hello, my name's Lauren, I'm in year 10 and I go to Hendon School.
One of the things I like about Peer Supporters, is basically that they're very helpful, and when you get stuck you often rely on them and you'd ask them for their help, and they're actually very reliable. Or they might remind you to get your lunch or your PE kit for your next lesson. If you didn't have a Peer Supporter then life would be harder because you wouldn't have anyone to rely on. I would actually feel less confident because I'm like thinking to myself ???hmm, what's happen to my Peer Supporters????, or ???why have I get no Peer Supporter????, that really would be really weird actually.
Caroline Downs ??? manager of Hendon Autism Resource Provision (HARP)
My name is Caroline Downs, and I'm the manager of HARP, which is Hendon Autism Resource Provision.
At Hendon the Peer Support system is seen to be terribly important, it's part of the overall ethos of the school, which is one of inclusivity. Peer Supporters are students who have volunteered and/or been selected specially to support students who may have difficulty within school, for whatever reason. All receive child line training, so they're taught counselling skills, active listening skills, to enable them to be able do that. For the Peer Supporters of people with autism we do additional training, so that will be training in and understanding of autism, what that means, and the impact of autism on life. And it's key that everybody in the school understands, or has some understanding anyway of, autism, and what it is, and how that impacts on people's lives, people's entire lives ??? they're thinking, they're functioning, they're learning, because without that, I think people would be less, well obviously less understanding, but less motivated to make school life easier for them.
We will have long conversations during Peer Support meetings about the impact of the triad of impairment on people with autism, and their functioning, and the implications of difficulties in those areas in a social setting, which school is of course. And then there will be specific things, so Peer Supporters are encourages to notice things that go on during the week, and perhaps even jot them down, and then bring them to a Peer Support meeting and explore those with their friends. So it may be something as simple as, I noticed this student doing this, I didn't understand it, why might that be? Or I noticed somebody doing this, this is how I responded, I think this was a good thing to do because??? or I wasn't sure whether I should have done it??? or I might have done it better if??? And there will be a full exploration really of helpful interactions I suppose, supportive interactions for our students.
Peer Support has enormous benefits for everybody, in terms of the students being supported, massive benefits. It means that they can become more independent of staff. Initially when people start in Year Seven, they probably have one to one Teaching Assistant or Teacher Support to access lessons. We want to actually increase their independence skills and their sense of independence and I think our students on the spectrum see that they're made it when they can go to class on their own without a Teaching Assistant supporting them. So to have a network of Peer Supporters in whom we have total confidence to support them and to feed back to us, if and when things aren't going so well, is critical.
Georgie ??? Peer Supporter
My name is Georgie and I'm a Peer Supporter at Hendon School.
I volunteered as a Peer Supporter because Ross and George, when I was in Year Seven, were in my D&T group, I like working with them, and when one of the TAs said I'd really like you to work with Ross, he invited me up here and I decided I'd like to become a Peer Supported and I did the training. My role is to help them in classes and at break-times and lunchtimes, social times when they're finding it hard. To make school enjoyable for them and not make it hard for them, because some autistic children will find school very hard, but it's nice to feel that you have helped them. It's great really.
You also need to teach the autistic students about life skills, and they don't know all the unwritten rules. So you have to teach them the rules, and Patrick, especially over the summer holidays liked to know what I was doing, and I liked to know what he was doing, but he was texting me, emailing me once or twice an hour, so I had to tell him, you can't do this all the time, you're going to have to email me two times a day, and not use the phones very often at all, and it was hard telling?? him, it was a difficult conversation, Patrick you can't do this, because I knew he, I think he enjoys knowing what people are doing and using communication, but you needed to tell him. I think he is now understanding what's appropriate and what's inappropriate for the time of day.
It's taught me to be sometimes a bit patient with the children and that sometimes they won't give you an answer and sometimes it takes a long time past all the grrr stage, where they'll sometimes mess around for a few seconds before, and you don't just walk away, you make sure they're alright and they're ok and that they won't do anything.
Making sure, my social skills have improved, knowing how to talk to people in a very calm way, and sometimes before I would get very angry very quickly, but now I get less angry, and it's improved the way I speak to people as well.
Moraa ??? Peer Supporter
My name is Moraa, I go to Hendon, and I'm a Peer Supporter.
I mostly support Lauren because she was in our form, and it's important that friends peer support her rather than teachers because we're the same age as her so we know what she's thinking and what she's doing, but older people she may think oh they're telling her off, and we say it in a kind of friendly way rather than teachers is like telling you, and like instructing you to do stuff. But with us we explain and we kind of show her and then we will like re-enact it as a friendship group, so that's how it works.
Kevin McKellar ??? Headteacher
I'm Kevin McKellar, Headteacher of Hendon School.
Peer Support is hugely important to us, purely because we have really tried to develop a sense of altruism amongst the children. And with our vision of inclusion, we have always felt that we really have to work hard on to develop the whole child. So we've had a vision for a great number of years now, but it's coming to real fruition with our Autism Unit.
It's massively important that the Headteacher leads on it really, because it means that you're giving your sense of purpose and commitment to leadership at all levels. The one thing that our Peer Supporters have been to us, are true leaders, and very humble leaders, and very honest leaders, and the best type of leaders because they have come back with a sense of growth and determination, and really helped us with the vision of inclusivity within the school. We are a better inclusive, emotionally intelligent school because of our Peer Supporters.
Our Peer Support programme has really helped our students in the Autism Unit for so many reasons, but the most obvious one for me, is their social skills, and the sense of responsibility that we give them to be part of a community. And that fact that they've got a constant dialogue. And they've got space to talk. Time is the most important gift that you can give children, but children giving each other quality time too is very meaningful, very powerful, and some of the best teaching moments that children ever get is when they are taught by other children.
Students have become far more organised, more committed to their studies and I also think that when you give a child a sense that they've got to teach another child something else about empathy, or about listening, or about rules, or following codes of conduct etcetera, or about routine, it really helps them to focus on what they're all about.