Using Playful Practice to Communicate with Special Children (nasen spotlight)

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Zabel, Robert H. Simpson's duties at KU have included roles of staff psychologist, teaching associate, assistant professor, project director, associate professor, professor, and chairperson for the Department of Special Education. He has directed numerous University of Kansas…. Leko, Melinda M. As the special education research community continues to identify new evidence-based practices EBP , educators will need to make choices regarding which EBPs to implement. This article provides educators with practical guidelines for selecting EBPs that will improve outcomes for students with learning disabilities LD , emotional and behavior….

Sam, Ann M. Educators continually encounter new challenges that require different tools or ways to utilize current tools in novel ways. Common challenges when working with students with autism spectrum disorder ASD may include addressing interfering behavior, developing communication systems, increasing social opportunities for students, and addressing….

Download full text. Ohio's public schools provide special education services to children with disabilities as early as preschool. Every year, the Ohio Department of Education reports the number of preschool children who received state-funded special education services during the previous year. The school year had an overall increase of 1, 5. Special education in the United State is based on the concept of access--public schools are open to all children. But access is no longer a sufficient foundation.

Approaches and accommodations that lead to academic success are increasingly demanded for those with learning disabilities. Functional, independent-living, and employable skills are…. Olson, Amy J. Access to the general education curriculum is a critical component of special education today, yet many teachers struggle to implement practices that provide such access. The authors describe how teachers can draw on three levels of support--teacher-, student-, and peer-delivered strategies--to optimize access to the general education curriculum….

Alzrayer, Nouf M. Students with autism spectrum disorder ASD have difficulties in communication that limit their opportunities to participate in daily living and educational activities. Augmentative alternative communication is one of the strategies used to strengthen the communication skills of students with limited communication skills. Students with ASD…. Auton, Autism and Applying Precedents. Law Matters. In British Columbia the state was found liable for discrimination by refusing to fund therapy treatment for autistic children under its medicare system.

Although the judges expressly disavowed the education context from their consideration, there will likely be attempts to apply the ruling to special education situations since therapy can be…. In Since Since last 5 years. Since last 10 years. Since last 20 years. Pervasive Developmental…. Special Needs Students. Federal Legislation. Teaching Methods. Elementary Secondary Education. Student Needs. Foreign Countries.

Educational Legislation. Individualized Education…. Early Intervention. Learning Disabilities. Behavior Modification. Inclusive Schools. Mental Retardation. Equal Education. Developmental Disabilities. Special Education Teachers. Asperger Syndrome. Early Childhood Education. Emotional Disturbances. Intervention in School and…. Education and Training in…. Exceptional Parent. Online Submission. Focus on Autism and Other…. District Administration. Journal of Special Education…. Project Forum. Beyond Behavior. British Journal of Special…. Education Week. European Journal of Special….

Exceptional Children. Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Jossey-Bass, An Imprint of…. National Early Childhood…. Support for Learning. Young Children. Young Exceptional Children. Hume, Kara. Muller, Eve. Zirkel, Perry A. Banda, Devender R. Boutot, E. One of the key components of this is investing in training for teachers. They need to understand the technology and what it can do for their learners with SEN and they need ongoing support to implement this successfully within the classroom.

There are a range of electronic and non-electronic devices that can be used to support children in school. Unfortunately, many of these have the effect of making the child stand out from their peers, but when the support is provided through a tablet computer the student is able to get the help they need in a far less obtrusive way. Some schools have also been quite inventive in how they use tablet computers to promote inclusivity. Peter Maxwell is an educational psychologist, qualified teacher and father of three tech loving children. He runs a Facebook and Twitter page called Educational App Advice to help parents and teachers find appropriate educational apps: www.

Protect and charge you iPads Tablets are now an essential part of daily school life; keeping them safe and protected whilst in use is paramount. Many SEN schools are using the popular, ergonomic and lightweight Gripcase, which protects valuable iPads from damage due to bumps and drops. However, due to them being so large, storage and charging can be a problem. The maths curriculum is designed to be fully inclusive and aims to ensure all pupils become fluent in the fundamentals of maths, reason mathematically and can solve problems by applying their maths in a range of contexts.

In these aims and in children's maths progression more generally, talk can have a profound and meaningful impact. Interestingly, these core aims, which on paper seem both realistic and achievable, are actually what teachers across the country find most difficult to develop in their children. Teachers will report that many children lack the ability to rapidly recall facts, which is detrimental to their fluency. They will suggest that children struggle to access and understand core mathematical language, and, for many, it is reasoning, explaining, justifying and problem solving that are major barriers in the classroom.

I believe that for children to be successful they need three key competencies: procedural proficiency, conceptual understanding and language competence. Procedural proficiency refers to them mastering a procedure. For example, a child is able to use their fingers to recall the nine times table, or can successfully follow a column addition procedure to complete addition sums. For example, I recently taught Ben, who knew his times tables up to 12x That is to say, he knew the procedures to recall these facts. However, when I asked him to work out 12 multiplied by 13, he looked at me blankly.

Ben had procedural proficiency, but lacked the conceptual understanding to apply his knowledge of multiplication to solve this problem. As soon as a mathematical concept is put into a story form it comes alive mathematical concept. Children who have procedural proficiency, but lack conceptual understanding, will often demonstrate an inability to adapt skills to unfamiliar contexts, will have difficulty reconstructing forgotten knowledge or skills and will compute without meaning.

An inability to access mathematical language will often make the development of a conceptual understanding harder. Of course, some children have the reverse problem. These are the children who have a good conceptual understanding of an area of maths, but will lack the procedure to enable them to solve the problem. When this occurs their computation will be slow, effortful and frustrating, as they grapple with the procedure. Often these children will show an inability to focus on the.

These stories provide a hook to engage children in new mathematical vocabulary in a real life context. The pupils in both settings have enjoyed writing them and refer back to them to support their learning. The stories have deepened the understanding of pupils and have provided them with skills to teach other children independently. Short maths games create a buzz in the classroom and provide access for all levels of ability. High quality maths vocabulary is established and the children within my classes have shown vast improvements in retention and recall of key concepts.

Dedicating just one to five minutes to intense quality discussion every day is important and allows the children to consolidate their learning through deeper reasoning skills. A focus on the key skills of mathematics is important here; children are given the opportunity to move their learning from superficial to a deeper understanding of concepts. They are given an armoury of skills which enables them get rich and meaningful experiences through investigations and applying their skills with fluidity.

These are vital skills which will prepare our pupils to solve problems with confidence and meet the challenges of the wider world. Understanding procedure and concepts The use of talk in the maths classroom aims to support children in developing the procedural proficiency alongside their conceptual understanding, while supporting language competence through systematic mathematical language acquisition. While the use of talk in the maths classroom is not limited to the two principles below, these are the most powerful. Principle 1: gamifiy your maths lessons Schools which have introduced the concept of playing short maths games ranging from 60 seconds to ten minutes every single day across the curriculum and not just as starters report positive shifts in pupils' perception of maths, engagement with the lesson content and ability to rapidly recall mathematical facts.

The principle behind this is a simple one. In the natural world, young animals learn through play. We are familiar with this as a concept with babies and toddlers; why, then, do we reject this as children begin to grow? When an idea or concept is made into a game — something which children recognise and respond to — children begin to engage with it and take ownership of it. Gamifying learning allows children to generate ideas for themselves, cultivate their creativity, and lay the foundations for fluent learning.

Principle 2: use mathematical stories Through centuries of exposure to the story form, our brains have become hardwired to respond to stories. The way our brains work to decipher stories is highly sophisticated, yet evidence proves that children can engage in this process from a very young age. Using mathematical stories is a revolutionary. Maths games create a buzz in the classroom and provide access for all levels of ability development in the teaching of maths in the twenty-first century classroom. For younger children, stories such as The Hungry Caterpillar could be successfully used as a hook for a maths unit, supporting children with counting to five and learning the days of the week.

However, I highly recommend that teachers write their own maths stories, which contain the mathematical language and concept appropriate to the topic they are teaching. As soon as a mathematical concept is put into a story form it comes alive. It can provide a suitable hook or engagement for a topic and provide purpose and meaning for maths. Crucially, mathematical stories can support children in understanding abstract concepts as well as help them internalise and learn specific mathematical language and facts.

Through engaging with mathematical stories, children will try things out, polish them, come back to them, look at them from a different viewpoint, bring their peers in to support the idea they are investigating, swap roles and find reasons and answers to problems that will sometimes seem impossible.

These types of engagement will support procedural proficiency, conceptual understanding and language competence and, ultimately, create a new generation of confident and fluent mathematicians. David Maytham is a former fast track teacher, education expert and the creator of Talk for Maths: www. Joining the dots Patricia Babtie explains how dot patterns can be used to help those struggling to grasp the basics of number. Knowing the key facts is essential for calculation strategies such as bridging through 10 and multiples of 10, and working with number lines. To generalise effectively pupils need to understand the concepts embodied in the key facts.

These concepts include the relationships within and between numbers, the commutative property of addition, and the inverse relationship between addition and subtraction. Dot patterns of the numbers from 1 to 10 provide distinctive images for each number which helps pupils to learn key facts. Pattern recognition and recall is an essential cognitive skill. A multisensory approach is required to build the strong visual images essential for useful memory. Pupils model numbers using concrete materials, talk about what they see and do, draw diagrams and write numbers in symbolic form.

It is also essential to practice number bonds regularly as well. Dot patterns Dot patterns, derived from the conventional dice patterns, provide distinct images for the numbers from 1 to It is important that pupils are guided to derive the patterns for 7, 8, 9 and 10 for themselves in order to develop logical thinking and the ability to explain their thoughts. Inherent in the dot patterns are cardinal and ordinal aspects of number: each number represents a fixed quantity, and each number represents a position in the number sequence.

Whilst exploring the relationship within and between numbers, pupils learn to use comparative language, such as more than, less than, same as, smaller, larger, double and half. Start teaching by asking the pupil to use counters to make the conventional dice patterns. The counters should all be the same colour and size.

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If they have difficulty, show them a dice. Encourage them to place the counters within each number close enough together to make the impact of the pattern clear. Discuss the relationship between the pattern of 2 and the pattern of 4. Dot patterns of the numbers from 1 to 10 provide distinctive images for each number pupil to use their own words to describe the patterns of 2 and 4. Allow them to move the counters to model their thinking if necessary.

Also introduce the language of double and half: 4 is double 2, and 2 is half of 4. Can you tell me about these patterns? I can see that double 3 makes 6. A doubles number is formed by adding a number to itself. I want you to make a pattern of 8. Make the pattern of 4, then another pattern of 4 below it. There are two fours in 8, so 8 is double 4. The near doubles numbers are the numbers that are one more, or one less, than a doubles number.

Introduce near doubles by investigating the relationship between adjacent patterns. For example, 5 is one more than 4 and one less than 6. Using this logic, guide pupils to construct the pattern of 7 so it is clear that 7 is one less than the pattern of 8, so it will comprise 4 and 3 or 3 and 4. Finally, construct the pattern of 9 which is one less than 10, so it is made of 5 and 4 or 4 and 5. It is important that pupils draw diagrams of the patterns they have made. Doubles and near doubles bonds The doubles and near doubles bonds are inherent in the dot patterns.

Pupils use triads also known as number triples to record these bonds and write the equations. A triad is a diagram that shows how a number can be split into two components. This introduces the concept of partitioning quantities. Use counters to make the pattern of 2 on a triad mat a diagram on A4 paper. Pupils draw diagrams to show their thinking. First they draw the dot pattern and an empty triad.

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Then they explain their thinking as they write number 2 in. If they draw a pattern of 2 in the top oval and then draw a counter in the lower ovals, the diagram will show 4 counters. Next, record the relationship between the number and its components using numerals in the triad formation. Pupils work through each of the doubles and near doubles bonds in this way. Key facts: bonds of 10 Pupils must know the facts of Because addition is commutative, there are only WWW.

Pupils draw diagrams to show their thinking four additional facts to learn. Teach these facts using triads as described above. Remaining bonds to 10 Once pupils know the doubles and near doubles bonds and the facts of 10, there are only twelve further facts to learn. Six of these involve adding 1 which leaves only six remaining facts. Teach these using triads. The benefits of being dyslexic Are some of the qualities society most values classic dyslexic traits?

Sarah Driver thinks so. These traits may come from the struggles dyslexics face on a daily basis at school referred to characteristics of grit, spirit, perseverance and drive.

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  8. My very first reaction was to put pen to paper and inform Anthony that the qualities he was referring to defined every dyslexic I had ever met, both as adults and children. They possess positive qualities that deserve to be. Not only are they curious about the world but they often look at it, and the problems in it, in a different way.

    Driven to succeed This fact is borne out by the high proportion of dyslexics who are successful entrepreneurs. We constantly refer to famous dyslexics such as Richard Branson and Jamie Oliver but the statistics suggest things go further than this. In , research at the University of Bristol reported that one in five of the UK entrepreneurs surveyed were dyslexic Entrepreneurial Success,. Overcoming obstacles I first came across these concepts about three years ago when Anthony Seldon, Headmaster of Wellington College, referred to an article in the New York Times.

    Logan, This rate is almost double the ten per cent estimated incidence of dyslexia in the general UK population, according to the British Dyslexia Association. This equates to at least , dyslexic entrepreneurs working in the UK. In , the same researcher, Professor Julie Logan, on behalf of Cass Business School, reported 35 per cent of entrepreneurs in a sample from the USA showed characteristics of dyslexia — more than double the general population rate of 15 per cent.

    Support, not shackles As I thought about this article it occurred to me that many of the traits I have talked about may come from the struggles dyslexics face on a daily basis at school.


    By taking a whole school approach, training teachers to WWW. You do not grow out of dyslexia; it is a genetic condition that dyslexics learn to live with throughout their life. Whilst for many, early help in the classroom ensures that their sense of isolation and struggle is minimised, there are those, like my son Archie, who will always find it hard to read and write. No child deserves to feel inadequate and stupid. As Jennifer Aniston recently said about her dyslexia, before being diagnosed, "I thought I wasn't smart.

    I just couldn't retain anything. Most dyslexics have known what it is like not to succeed and often they can display these characteristics to others who struggle. Children need to be given the opportunity to explore their interests and develop as a more rounded person, rather than racing towards the highest possible GCSE results — important as they are.

    By encouraging children to engage with the arts, sports and all manner of societies and community based projects we can, and are already, developing character. What children really need is the space and time to explore other aspects of themselves, diversify their interests and feel able to express themselves both within and outside the classroom. The Driver Youth Trust runs a teacher-friendly resource site, Drive for Literacy, which also highlights some of the ways in which dyslexics overcome their difficulties: www.

    Planning for play Julie Pearce looks at how to create a rewarding outdoor play and learning environment for kids with SEN. The abilities of young people with SEN can differ dramatically from child to child — and this inevitably impacts the choices made by parents, teachers and carers when considering the best outdoor facilities for use by all children. This is especially true when selecting play equipment which, depending on setting, may be required to serve hundreds of young people each year. Each condition or disability has a different impact on the way children engage in recreation, so access to play facilities can be difficult for families and carers of these children.

    This is no doubt frustrating and de-motivating for the young people who are not able to enjoy and benefit from playtime. Your plan should set out the project's aims and what you want to achieve from your outdoor environment. Learning outcomes While play equipment is often seen as a way of creating enjoyment for children, it can also be used in a number of ways to create a resourceful. Your plan should set out the project's aims and what you want to achieve from your outdoor environment learning environment. From promoting imaginative, creative and co-operative development to providing sensory experiences, play equipment can be used to deliver a range of learning outcomes for children with SEN.

    Learning through play has many benefits. Inspiring children to play in an. A particularly important factor to consider for children with SEN is inclusivity. When developing a play area, consider whether your chosen equipment caters for the inclusion of all children. Can all children take part in the activities and feel the same when playing, regardless of their individual conditions? So when you plan your project, think about providing opportunities for role-play, imaginative play, understanding the world, and expressive art and design.

    With the right planning, all these learning processes can be encouraged through learning and playing outdoors and incorporated WWW. Delivering these kinds of learning experiences outdoors can also be an extremely powerful way of engaging pupils who are hard to reach or who do not respond well to traditional teaching methods. Play equipment comes in a wide variety of forms and today many pieces of equipment are designed with features to support children with SEN and disabilities. Sensory play equipment Whether through sight, touch, sound or even smell, the opportunities for play and learning are endless for children who enjoy interacting through their senses.

    Sensory play can be enjoyed by children of all ages and abilities and using sensory elements is one of the best ways to enhance a setting that is inclusive to all. Much traditional play equipment can also be used to encourage inclusive play. Traditional options include basket swings with large scooped seats to provide greater stability, as well as sunken trampolines that reduce jumping heights to a safe level. Play towers designed to a lower, safer height with an assortment of activity panels are also a good option.

    In addition, there are pieces of play equipment that have been modified to ensure inclusivity, such as roundabouts that are installed flush to the floor to allow easy wheelchair access. Visualise your outdoor area and consider the placement of play facilities and furniture. Consider story telling areas, sheltered seating areas, sensory play zones and areas for physical activity. By designing your play area this way, you are more likely to identify free space that can be used in different and more effective ways.

    Try to locate areas that can be utilised for wheelchairs; think about the safety of items grouped close together and consider whether safer surfacing or fencing to separate play and learning areas is required. Next, consider your budget and opportunities for fundraising; your project can always be implemented in phases to give you time to fundraise for your play equipment. Your project is much more likely to be successful, and provide hours of happy and resourceful play for all children, if it has been well thought through and thoroughly planned.

    This proves pivotal not only in meeting the basic need for human interaction, but also in expressing and regulating emotions, facilitating curriculum access, promoting independence and encouraging community participation. It was this desire, to help young people communicate so that they can have more meaningful input into decisions affecting their lives, that promoted my school to re-organise the team driving communication development within the school.

    Challenge to change Prior to re-structuring in , communication provision had been typical of many local area special schools. Visits by speech and language therapists SALTs , teachers of augmentative and alternative communication AAC and occupational therapists OTs often occurred in isolation and, in their absence, class teams worked to the best of their ability to coordinate the delivery of multiple programmes designed by these peripatetic professionals.

    Over time, it became evident that this way of working all too often led to significant delays in the implementation, dissemination and update of communication programmes and exacerbated issues around continuity, consistency and, ironically, communication itself.

    In order to address these issues, we felt it prudent to introduce a structured communication team through which the delivery of communication work could be more effectively and efficiently SENISSUE The remit of the team was, and is, to continually improve communication practice not only within school but more broadly to provide coherent support for families and surrounding schools.

    Cooperation and consistency The team includes contributors from classroom support in each class through to senior leadership, as well as representatives from all external agencies involved with communication. This model ensures investment at all levels and seeks to optimise consistency of both vision and access. The team includes contributors from classroom support through to senior leadership acquisition of new resources and the provision of an extensive training programme for staff both within and outside school.

    Under the new model, timetabling of lessons and the availability of core team members has been aligned to facilitate a common weekly language and communication focus across the school. As part of this focussed work, we have created eight language groups to date involving VOCA, eye gaze and Makaton users, as well as pupils using spoken language and those working at a pre-intention level. Provision for regular meetings between all team members serves to ensure that work is continually reviewed and developments are rapid and sustained.

    Having all external agencies linked to communication working within. Freed to lead With the appointment of a full-time Lead Communication Mentor to oversee and provide support for the existing team of ten highly skilled communication mentors, work at a grassroots level is stronger than it has ever been. Being released from her classroom responsibilities, the Lead Communication Mentor has been.

    This has enabled her to provide weekly training for staff and blocks of workshops for parents and colleagues from surrounding schools. Working in this capacity full-time has also enabled the Lead Mentor to complete a thorough communication audit, update pupil passports, objects of reference and visual systems and run additional communication clubs at lunchtimes. The work of our communication team, whilst focused, is not self-contained. Rather, it seeks to facilitate the dissemination and generalisation of these interventions by working in tandem with class teachers and support staff as part of a broader Joint Practice Development model D.

    Hargreaves, Many staff have now been equipped to take over the lead role in programme delivery with the Strategic Lead and core team providing consultative support and monitoring. By working in this way, it is hoped that the principles underpinning targeted interventions will become embedded practice and therefore prove self-sustaining. Embracing change It is important for the team to recognise everything that new developments in technology and pedagogic and therapeutic interventions may have to offer pupils. With this approach in mind, the core team plans to undertake a range of projects during its next development cycle.

    Thousands of books made available in accessible formats Students with sight loss or dyslexia are set to benefit from a decision to start making textbooks and reading books available in accessible formats through a free online service. Teachers can now access texts within hours rather than days, saving time and allowing staff more opportunity to support students in their learning. Around 10 per cent of school and college students require texts in an alternative accessible format due to a sight loss condition, dyslexia or another disability.

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    Pearson provides learning materials, technologies, assessments and services in over 70 countries. It is available free to schools and colleges in the UK. For more information about Load2Learn, visit: www. Designed to help children, young people and adults with communication difficulties, MyChoicePad helps develop.

    It is used by a variety of people with differing communications needs — from pre-school, mainstream and special schools, to adults with learning disabilities in supported living environments. Insane Logic not only creates the technology, but its three resident speech and language therapists devise projects and training programmes to help embed the tool and the practices. Yet in the UK today too many of our children, including 40 per cent of our poorest children, leave primary school without being able to read well. Only 40 per cent of pupils with SEN are reading well by the age of 11 reading well by the age of 11 — almost double the rate of their better off peers.

    The report highlights the fact that these children are not reading enough outside school, are less likely to have books of their own and are less likely to have a broad range of reading materials. A picture of inequality Not only are there differences in performance relating to poverty levels, the report also highlights differences between the reading levels of boys and girls. The report found that 73 per cent of eight- to year-old girls said they enjoyed reading compared to 59 per.

    Worryingly, the reading gap in England between boys and girls is one of the widest in the developed world: boys are twice as likely to fall below even a very basic reading level. The report provides many stark facts highlighting the challenges that children growing up in poverty are facing; for example, children in homes with more than books are on average more WWW.

    SEN indicators For children with SEN, the findings of the report are stark: only 40 per cent of pupils with SEN are reading well by the age of 11, compared with 85 per cent of children not recognised as having additional needs. And in only half of all pupils with a hearing impairment, close to 60 per cent of those with a visual impairment and just under half of pupils with a physical disability were reading well by the age of Worryingly, we know that many disadvantaged children will be over represented within SEN categories; as part of this, many of these children will have underlying speech, language and communication needs that will hamper their ability to learn and make friends, as well as develop good reading skills.

    This is because we know that good language skills are fundamental to achieving good literacy development. The importance of ensuring all children, including those with SEN, have the language and literacy skills they need for learning and life is well documented. Poor language skills have a lifelong impact, not only on literacy development but on all aspects of school achievement and social skills. Children whose language difficulties are unresolved by the time they start school are more likely to have later academic difficulties and those with ongoing communication difficulties are less likely to achieve formal qualifications at the end of compulsory schooling.

    Early language issues The report also found that young children with delayed language were close to three times more likely to be behind at the age of 11 compared with those with advanced language skills at age three. This is worrying WWW. Of course early language is so crucial to reading and learning. It is well established that language development in the early years influences educational achievement right through to school leaving age. Children starting school with poor language are immediately disadvantaged as they do not have the skills that they need for the next stage of learning.

    Their thinking, reasoning and effective communication with adults and peers lags behind as well. Additionally, children with delayed language are at greater risk of behavioural issues, and can struggle to form relationships and make friends. Without the right help, children with delayed language will not catch up. Children with SEN are most likely to struggle without targeted help. Schools need to recognise the importance of spoken language in all areas of the curriculum the teaching of every subject.

    English is both a subject in its own right and the medium for teaching; for pupils, understanding the language provides access to the whole curriculum. In , OECD research found that the difference in reading ability between high achieving yearolds and low achievers of the same age was equivalent to over eight years of schooling.

    The UK has high educational inequalities and a large proportion of children, including those with SEN, are left behind. We all need to work together to ensure that we change the story for our children and give them the language and literacy skills they need to thrive. Time to act The centrality of language for learning has been recognised as essential by Ofsted for some time now; how well pupils develop and apply their skills in communication and how well communication is taught forms part of the inspection framework. And the advent of the revised national curriculum means that schools need to recognise the importance of spoken language in all areas of the curriculum; it should not just be left to be taught in English lessons.

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    Tools for talk Wendy Lee looks at how schools can identify and support pupils with speech, language and communication needs. We need these skills to make our needs and feelings known, have conversations, understand what is being said to us and formulate our responses. Our pupils need speech, language and communication skills in order to learn; if a child or young person has speech, language and communication needs SLCN it can impact not only on their communication and social interaction, but also on learning and attainment.

    Research suggests that between five and seven per cent of all children have a language impairment and we know that many students with SEN, such as autistic spectrum disorders or learning difficulties, struggle to acquire and develop their language in the same way as their peers.

    Identifying these children and young people is fundamental to supporting their needs. Evidence suggests a significant under identification of students with SLCN takes place in our schools. Without the right support these students struggle to make effective progress and there is a growing gap between the attainment of students with SLCN and all other students.

    What are SLCN? As with most conditions, children with SLCN are all different. Difficulties can range from being severe, where they might have very little language or no speech at all, through to those children and young people whose difficulties are much more subtle and difficult to spot, such as word finding difficulties or difficulties with understanding grammatical concepts. For those with. Research suggests that between five and seven per cent of all children have a language impairment more subtle needs, they may have difficulties understanding abstract or complex language such as inference or figurative language.

    They may not understand the rules of conversation or the subtleties of social interaction and may find themselves in trouble with peers or teachers when they fail to understand or respond appropriately. How can we identify students with SLCN? Use visual support; signs, symbols, pictures, writing frames and mind maps can all help to support understanding and use of language. Provide safe opportunities for talk — using strategies such as group roles; giving students with SLCN clear scaffolded opportunities for talk and interaction ensures they can be included and builds independence.

    Chunk information — give information in bite size chunks, present instructions in the order you want them to happen, have an idea of the level students are functioning at with their language and keep it simple. Implement think time — wait seven seconds after you ask a question. This gives students time to process information and formulate responses. It allows students with SLCN to have their say. It can be hard to change the way we say things, to remember to check out whether students have understood or to ensure visual support is in place, but these things can make a world of difference to students with SLCN.

    For the students themselves, they say the biggest difference for them is when people understand the nature of their difficulties — that the adults around them understand SLCN and the impact it can have. This makes communication the business of every class teacher — of every adult that interacts with children and young people. What can teachers do? Children with poor language can also struggle with social and emotional development, which can impact on their behaviour; many children excluded from school have undiagnosed SLCN. Supporting students Our schools are overflowing with spoken language — words, sentences, narratives, conversations, non-verbal interactions and, for teenagers, newly forming rules and social language.

    All teachers and students use their language and communication skills in different ways as a vehicle to interact and to support learning. This is problematic for children and young people with SLCN. The vehicle by which they access learning is the area where they have their difficulties. We know how busy class teachers are, though the wonderful thing about good practice for students with SLCN is that it is often good for all students. It can also be just a tweak to everyday good practice rather than a massive change or upheaval. This is probably the most important and most difficult to change but just the way adults use their language is key.

    Professional development is important. Many teachers are not confident about supporting students with SLCN, so why not consider a staff meeting or training session?

    In terms of supporting identification of SLCN, it is useful to look at school data and compare it with prevalence levels of SLCN; consider your context and cohorts; are you confident all children with SLCN are being identified? When providing support for students, build pen portraits or communication passports with the students themselves.

    Students can be really insightful and clear about what works best for them and this information coming directly from young people is often much more powerful than from other adults. Ensure evidenced and targeted approaches for supporting communication are in place; many schools have a range of interventions to support literacy, writing and numeracy, though may not give equal attention to.

    If possible, seek advice from specialists. Speech and language therapists can be thin on the ground, but try and make contact with your local department to see what is on offer. In addition, look to what charities and other organisations can offer. What can leadership teams do? It is no revelation that strong leadership makes a huge difference to a school. The one consistent element that leads to greatest success is strong.

    Ensuring SENCOs have a place on the senior leadership team means expertise is shared across the team with issues, challenges and solutions for SEN integrated with other priorities. A focus on good communication for all can help those students with SLCN. Greater awareness of these skills, a focus on them as a whole school and a particular focus on what works for children with SLCN in the classroom as well as through targeted or specialist support can make a huge difference.

    Leadership teams can ensure a plan is in place so that there is confidence that all children with SLCN are being identified and that evidenced interventions are supported in the classroom and where needed through targeted interventions and specialist support. She is also an independent education consultant: www. Diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome and ADHD as an adult, Jo now uses her success in sport to promote awareness of her conditions.

    Here, she answers questions about her struggles at school, the empowering quality of sport and her hopes for the future. What sort of issues did you face growing up? I was very sheltered growing up. I had a lot of structure, which helped, but there. I felt lonely, I didn't always know how to join in with other children. Things got harder from the age of around nine or ten as I became more aware of how difficult I found it to join in.

    There was an expectation on me to socialise with girls my own age but I was happier running around playing football with boys. On reflection, I understood a lot less than anyone realised and this meant I was very withdrawn. I went along with things even when I didn't understand, as I couldn't communicate my lack of understanding and I didn't know how to cope with expressing how I felt. As a teenager, I couldn't even ask my nan for milk to go on my cereal. I understood a lot less than anyone realised and this meant I was very withdrawn When she forgot to give me some, I just went along with the situation and ate it without.

    What was school like for you? I would go days at school not speaking, not even answering the class register. Teachers would skip me when going round the class asking questions because I didn't engage and appeared vacant. I just didn't cope with being there in those years and nobody could work out why as I couldn't communicate and didn't understand any of it. Academically, I didn't do too badly at school but I did underachieve. Those challenges probably mean that my achievements since are greater than they seem, but that can actually be really hard to accept — that you could have achieved more or could have had more support.

    I had big problems organising my homework and revision, so much so that I could not do homework until the last minute and I did little revision. I would have no interest in timed essay questions in English, so I'd write nothing or I'd make up my own question to answer. I thought in English it was perfectly fine to read my own book rather than listen to the teacher because books were written in English and that's what we were studying. I fell asleep in maths a few times.

    This was tough but I learnt so much and it brought a lot of resolution and closure to some of my experiences. At this stage I thought I had it all figured out and enthusiastically went into putting strategies in place, but none of these seemed to work for long and nearly five years later I was diagnosed with ADHD. At a young age I was laughed at because I interpreted things differently; then I learnt to keep it in and follow. I was always on the periphery but usually had one girl mothering me and making sure I was "looked after". I was lucky that there were quite a few people who did this; they would make sure I was concentrating on work in class and eating my lunch.

    They even communicated for me to teachers. But I also had a lot of people make fun of me, taunt me and call me names. However, because I wouldn't respond or even show how I felt, it unnerved these kids which I think made them back off. The fact that reacting and expressing emotion was so difficult for me served me well in these scenarios as the kids just got bored, but that doesn't mean that those experiences didn't sit deeply with me.

    I didn't expect it but it made sense. I often wish I had known at a younger age but that's no guarantee it would have been any better or I would have got the support I needed. I think maybe getting the diagnosis at the age of 23 enabled me to accept it better and learn about how it presented within me. The ADHD has been a tougher diagnosis to come to terms with. I'm not sure if it is because I thought I had all the answers before and felt there had been a wasted few years where I still hadn't worked it all out, or if it is due to the poor follow up times making it more difficult for me to process.

    Even so, I'm glad to have the answers now. Understanding why I can't follow the structure I need has relieved a lot of self-pressure; I just need to know how to make a structure work. It has been very upsetting getting passed from service to service, being told you are too complex and they can't help.

    My dad took me kickboxing when I was 13 and I loved it straight away. He thought it would help my confidence and would be a nice activity for us to do together. I didn't speak there for two years and I certainly wouldn't have gone without him. A lot of people laughed at me for doing kickboxing, either because I was so quiet they couldn't see how this sport would be suited to me or because I was so interested in the sport it became an obsession and the only thing I would talk about. I didn't compete until I was 17 and this came about after I was invited to train with the England squad.

    I surprised my instructors a little and was asked to join the team for the Irish Open. I had always been reluctant to compete because of my anxiety and lack of confidence but it was such a big thing to be considered for the England squad. Has sport helped you to develop as a person? Sport has been life changing for me. It has been so important in my development into the person I am today. He taught me to set goals, work hard toward them, never give up and believe I could reach them, but also to act with humility and respect.

    My team, the BCKA, are like family to me. It has taught me what it feels like to belong and be valued for who you are and what you can do, rather than just what you give to others and what they want from you. To be respected, appreciated and accepted as you are is so powerful after struggling to fit in for so long. I can just be who I am and nobody judges.

    Sport has also taught me that I can be successful and my conditions have actually helped in my sport in some ways. Have you been able to use your experiences to help others? After winning world titles in my sport I wanted to use what I had learned to encourage and inspire other young people who might feel they could achieve nothing. So I started public speaking and did school assemblies. I was asked by Anna Kennedy to speak at Autism's Got Talent and then asked to be a patron of her charity. I love words and writing.

    I wrote to compensate for struggling to talk to people and became quite articulate. Once I learned and became confident to speak what I wrote, I fell in love with public speaking, which is bizarre for someone who struggled to answer the school register. I try to give my time to people just to offer encouragement and listen, because I think these things are important. Words are so powerful and I want to use mine to build belief in others and inspire confidence, because I remember my bad experiences only WWW.

    There is a lot that needs to be done for awareness and ultimately acceptance but I think the most important thing is that we need to hear more of the perspectives of individuals with these conditions. We need to hear from parents and families too and give their views more importance in determining how young people with these conditions are treated and educated. I often feel as though people would actually prefer to read the views of somebody who doesn't have my conditions about what it is like to have my conditions; this effectively means that my voice is not being heard, which is just as bad as not having a voice.

    Fundamentally, we are people not a subgroup and we all have differing thoughts, views and opinions which deserve to be heard, especially in determining our futures. There also needs to be more cohesion and collaboration between interested groups and charities; more can be achieved if everyone works together. What are your plans for the future and how do you see your life developing? I'm at a big turning point in my life now. The last year has been very rough for me with my diagnosis of ADHD. I want to become as independent as possible because despite my intelligence and successes with public speaking and in sport, I actually really struggle.

    I have always aimed really high but I think I need to take a look at day-to-day life. There are so many things I've never learnt or been taught and I've never been independent as an adult. I struggle hugely with conversation and travelling and I can't cook or budget. I need to look at the basics now — the things that might help me to get some independence in these areas. I want to do more public speaking and continue with my sport competitively and as a coach. Due to the costs involved, it simply wouldn't be possible to compete without support like this.

    Jo also presents motivational talks about her life with autism and ADHD and how she became successful in sport: www. Paralympic star inspires young athletes to overcome challenges Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson met with twelve-year-olds India Oates and Jacob Bray at Barnard Castle School in County Durham to give her support at the start of their journeys as young athletes with disabilities.

    The Welsh athlete, who has won sixteen Paralympic medals, broken 30 world records and won the London Marathon six times, gave her top tips to athletics star India and swimmer Jacob, both pupils at Barnard Castle School, before they begin to compete in more high profile competitions. India Oates, who has cerebral palsy, was talent spotted by her prep school teacher Sue Seddon at the age of ten.

    She is now going through the International Paralympic Committee classification process so she can compete in regional and national competitions. School swimming champion Jacob has a prosthetic hand and he asked Dame Tanni for her advice on how to get to the top in sport. I train four times a week in school. If I keep trying my hardest I hope I will become the best swimmer, which is my dream.

    Free wheelin' Sociable, healthy and inclusive, cycling is so much more than just fun, says Abigail Tripp. Many adults and children ride tricycles, recumbents and hand cycles, or ride in pairs on tandems, tandem tricycles, wheelchair cycles and side-by-side cycles. The Davies family from Llangollen enjoy nothing more than a weekend bike ride around their local area. Thanks to a wheelchair tandem, ten-year-old Jake, who has quadriplegic cerebral palsy, never misses out on the family fun.

    However, once he is in the wheelchair tandem seat and he starts moving, Jake relaxes in a way he is unable to do anywhere else. Healthy option The health benefits of cycling are clearly there for everyone, but they can be particularly important for some children with SEN. Food aversions, the side effects of medications, and mobility limitations make these children even more susceptible to being overweight or obese than other children, who are already facing a nationwide epidemic of obesity. One study found that among teens with Down syndrome, 86 per cent were either overweight or obese.

    Those figures are just as startling for children with other disabilities.

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    Using Playful Practice to Communicate with Special Children (nasen spotlight) Using Playful Practice to Communicate with Special Children (nasen spotlight)
    Using Playful Practice to Communicate with Special Children (nasen spotlight) Using Playful Practice to Communicate with Special Children (nasen spotlight)
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    Using Playful Practice to Communicate with Special Children (nasen spotlight) Using Playful Practice to Communicate with Special Children (nasen spotlight)
    Using Playful Practice to Communicate with Special Children (nasen spotlight) Using Playful Practice to Communicate with Special Children (nasen spotlight)

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