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Autism Approaches

At Harry Watts Academy, we use a variety of different Autism specific approaches in order rot support our pupils learning. A “Total Communication System” is used with all pupils as required, including speech, symbols, photographs, objects of reference and Makaton signing.


Some pupils will require the use of the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) as their main communication strategy. PECS uses specific prompting and reinforcement strategies which lead to independent communication. The system uses automatic error correction procedures to promote learning. There are 6 phases to the system, from single action cards building to sentences, responding and questioning. Some pupils can progress from PECS to developing speech and others to using speech generating devices.


The SCERTS® Model is a research-based educational approach and multidisciplinary framework that directly addresses the core challenges faced by children and persons with ASD and their families. SCERTS® focuses on building competence in Social Communication, Emotional Regulation and Transactional Support as the highest priorities that must be addressed in any program. It provides specific guidelines for helping a child become a competent and confident social communicator, while preventing problem behaviours that interfere with learning and the development of relationships. It also is designed to help families, educators and therapists work cooperatively as a team, in a carefully coordinated manner, to maximise progress in supporting a child. At HWA SCERTS targets are set and a SCERTS target sheet produced. They are then reviewed at two points throughout the academic year.


Makaton is a language programme that uses signs together with speech and symbols, to enable people to communicate. It supports the development of essential communication skills such as attention, listening, comprehension, memory and expressive speech and language.


TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and Communication related handicapped Children) will be used in the structure of lessons, the scheduling and the layouts of classrooms. TEACCH works to alleviate difficulties relating to receptive and/or expressive language difficulties; the need for familiarity; poor sequential memory; Inability to organise self and limit own behaviours; Hypersensitivity and distraction. We recognise that our pupils can, for a variety of different reasons, have significant gaps in the knowledge or skills development and central to our curriculum is the acknowledgement that we have a duty to support pupils in addressing these gaps.

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