Read about what our learners are up to......
Following the entry-level Preparation for Life and Work course supported Sara's current signing skills and gave her the push to develop her first language further. Observing and attending a signing peer group across a 24-hour curriculum has ensured progress in Sara's signing skills.
Sara was a secret signer, signing low out of view and with no intention to involve others. Sara kept her head tilted in a shy pose, turning away from eye contact and direct interaction. This was apparent across a range of settings and in the family home. Sara worked for a long time attending to images of herself, using mirrors and tolerating her own reflection. Sara began signing more proudly, more up front and in sight. We are continuing to work on sharing space and paired interaction as Sara has always occupied herself in a solitary manner.
Being actively involved in group work and working under the expection that she respond to visual and signed information has led to more active involvement.
Communication and Literacy Skills
Sara came with no visual form of communication to fall back on for when she felt anxious or confused. We introduced a symbol communication book, which allows an instruction to be given, 'time to go to ICT', which Sara would then sign and complete the given task. Sara will confirm her understanding of a signed instruction by locating the symbols and placing them on the sentence strip. This two way device has led to a greater understanding of expectations, which in turn has affected her behaviours in a positive manner.
The introduction of the communication book has, in turn, led to further development of her literacy skills. Sara had used word programmes in her previous placement and ritually typed names of known people in lists. Sara always selects SymWriter and now types across the page. New words have been added to her vocabulary and are actively in use. Sentence structure is starting to emerge it is a very exciting time, particularly for the family as they would love to receive communication from their daughter who is now a residential student.
Goals set for Sara will hopefully nurture her literacy skills and nurture sentence starters and linking words.
During his time at Royal College Manchester Chris has made excellent progress with his communication, both through the use of a Proxtalker and hand over hand signing. Chris has developed a small but effective inventory of personal signs to make immediate requests and needs known. The amount of signs he now uses has increased from 12 to 18.
Chris is supported into college each day from residence and now walks into the classroom rather than using his wheelchair. He is able to trail the corridors to locate his own table and work chair. Chris is highly skilled in exploring his environment if the area is safe and clutter free. On some days he may use his adapted bike to travel to and from college. He is now able to walk to break from his classroom. He also now has a work chair and will use this for short periods of time during the college day. Chris will now sit with his peers in the dining room for his meals in college and has been to the local public house for a meal on a few occasions without any incidents. During his first year Chris ate alone in his residence and wouldn't join in any social outings for meals.
We have also seen a massive improvement in Chris' ability to accept change more readily. Change has been an immense challenge for Chris due to his rigidity and obsessional behaviours. We have supported Chris to work on accepting a different spoon and cup as he would previously only use one. Chris has made some progress using a different spoon at mealtimes and has accepted the use of a different spoon for the last few spoonfuls of his dessert. On one occasion he accepted his entire main course from a different spoon. Chris is now consistently taking at least one sip from his cup at morning break and will regularly take more than one sip when supported by staff. During the college day Chris will now accept a number of different staff working with him. He has a team of six learning support assistants now who are familiar with Chris' wants and needs. This has widened Chris' social circle and we have seen an increase in shared activities.
Chris is an inspirational young man who has overcome many difficulties but still faces obstacles in his life. Chris has achieved all his set targets and many personal achievements at this time at the Royal College Manchester. One main area in which Chris has exceeded all our expectations is the ability to accept change in his life.