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Empowering People, Launching lives

Developing functional communication to access learning

When we started working with George*, he had no formal communication system and couldn’t access the curriculum. Staff didn’t have the training to support him in a mainstream setting and George displayed behaviours that challenge, and it was often unclear why.

We were approached to support with George’s behaviour and help the school find strategies to deal with his barriers to learning. A big focus was on finding the right communication method for George so that he could share his wants and needs with his teachers.


How we supported

  • Twice weekly visits to the school for a month, fading to weekly, then bi-weekly over the course of 2.5 terms (approximately 20 days)
  • Assessments carried out which informed an IEP and behaviour plan
  • We supported the school team to identify possible causes behind the behaviours that challenge
  • 3 staff members trained
  • We taught George to communicate via PECS/AAC on iPad – making simple requests for preferred items. This proved difficult because he had spent so long without a functional communication system.
  • We started to work on ‘learning to learn skills’ such as imitation, matching, independent toy play.
  • George secured a place at Park House School. We then started the process of assessments that would be completed usually in the first 2 weeks of starting at a BeyondAutism school. This gave the school team a head start when he joined.
  • We supported 3 transition days to Park House School in the summer term, so the learner could get used to the new school environment.


The outcome

George has been doing really well with his PECS and is now able to consistently do exchanges for various items and activities such as playground, trampoline, animals and foot spa. He is also able to independently follow one-step instructions such as put your coat away or get your lunch box. George is now engaging in peer play with minimal input from an adult to take his turn.

His transitions between activities and locations have improved with the use of a now and next board. He is participating in academic groups and is going to pre-groups with 3-4 other peers. We have seen, and continue to see, great progress with George.

*learner’s name has been changed





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