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Wiltshire Ordinarily Available Provision for All Learners (OPAL)

Section Two: Communication and Interaction

This includes children and young people with speech, language and communication needs, young people on the autistic spectrum, or those who have communication or interaction needs as part of another special educational need or disability. This provision should be in addition to the expectations in section one.

General expected practice

  • Whole setting awareness and understanding of communication and interaction needs
  • Communication friendly approaches embedded across the curriculum: Speech and Language UK: Resources (opens new window)
  • CYP will access strategies and resources typically available, with an emphasis on visual teaching aids to support learning and social activities
  • Tasks may need to be differentiated by level/ outcome/pitch/pace and grouping. Aspects of structured teaching might be helpful
  • Staff are skilled in adjusting the pace and order of activities to maintain interest and attention
Identified barrier and/or needProvision and/or strategies: approaches, adjustments and specific interventions expected to be made by settings according to the ages

Difficulties saying what they want to

  • build confidence through specific praise and support where needed e.g. prompting with first word, encouragement to re-order ideas, visual support
  • model language, eg: CYP says "ball gone" , adult says "the ball's gone in the box"
  • allow time for child to process and respond (10 second rule)
  • ensure different uses of language with the pupil such as comments, instructions and questions e.g. "You've built a big tower" "Sit down now" "What are you making?"
  • provide opportunities to talk without interruption, practice new vocabulary and talk to adults/in small group rather than in whole class
  • model use of language in social contexts e.g. "My turn... your turn", "Yes please",  "No thanks", "Good morning!"
  • consistent practice of one developmentally appropriate error e.g. -ed endings such as "walked" through reading, talking and at home
  • explicit teaching of new vocabulary e.g. subject-based word banks
  • if the pupil struggles to respond, offer an alternative e.g. "Is it... or...?"
  • targeted small group or individual language sessions

Difficulties with intelligibility and being understood

  • model back language and respond to the CYP's message regardless of any mistakes with pronunciation, e.g. if CYP asks "Where's the dup (cup)?" responding "The cup is here"
  • build confidence through specific praise e.g. for successful pronunciation or good attempts
  • don't pretend to understand - can the CYP tell you/show you in another way?

Difficulties with understanding

  • provide a language rich environment through rhymes, songs, good quality texts
  • anticipate and plan for difficulties when listening to and understanding instructions or stories
  • allow extra time to process what has been said
  • check you have engaged the CYP's attention before talking to them, use their name
  • use clear, concise language with information given in small chunks. Use first, then, next
  • provide visual support for verbal content and instructions, including visual prompts for key vocabulary and visual timetables
  • regularly check understanding by asking the pupil to show you or explain the instructions in their own words
  • give strategies to indicate when they have not understood, and model how to do this if necessary
  • relate content to prior learning or the CYP's direct experience whenever possible
  • check that hearing has been tested
  • provide alternative means of communicating e.g. use of technology, symbol communication (e.g. Makaton, PECS, Aided Language Boards)
  • use multi-sensory approaches to teach new vocabulary and concepts and opportunities for repetition and reinforcement
  • differentiate level of questioning to suit individual CYP e.g. "what/where" questions easier than "when/why"

CYP does not understand or use neurotypical social rules of communication

  • Explicit teaching of important skills and rules of social interaction, with modelling and use of key phrases, e.g. 'First my turn, then your turn'. This may be best taught in a small social skills group with support to transfer the skill to other contexts
  • Ensure all staff are aware of pupil's difficulties and support rather than sanction e.g. if pupil inadvertently uses the wrong tone of voice
  • Buddy/befriender system at break and lunchtimes and safe-haven to use when necessary
  • Support for interpersonal problem-solving to promote assertiveness and negotiation e.g. categorising the relative importance of problems, visual supports to express feelings, comic strip conversations
  • Develop pupils' awareness of situations that may be difficult and encourage pupil to use appropriate strategies
  • Use of visual support to define areas, structure play and enable choices, e.g. choice boards, boxes labelled with pictures, cues for number of pupils allowed in an area, language jigs, social stories, emotional thermometers
  • Give pupil a specific role in group work and support the interaction with peers or consider providing and alternative individual task to complete if group work is proving too difficult
  • Understand and manage health and safety considerations, e.g. interest in sockets/fans with lack of awareness of danger
  • Provide small group nurturing for specific issues, e.g. Year 7 discussion re: transition, identified adults to talk to
  • Provide support with understanding the views of others and developing tolerance e.g. may hold extreme or non-age appropriate views

Difficulties with listening and attention

  • use the CYP's name first to draw their attention, followed by key word instructions e.g. 'Jamie, stop'
  • use visual supports to support good listening e.g. widget symbols
  • use simple, literal, language (avoiding idioms, sarcasm, and figures of speech)
  • use of symbol communication such as Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)
  • be very aware of your own body language (70% of what we communicate is non-verbal)
  • awareness of appropriate tone of voice (calm, not too loud)
  • awareness of appropriate environment (noise, room temperature, lighting, room layout)
  • ensure language use is developmentally appropriate for the CYP
  • use specific positive reinforcement for good listening behaviour e.g. "good sitting still" rather than "Good boy"

Difficulties with flexible thinking and/or anxiety

  • Provide a calm, structured environment with clear routines and expectations and visual support and/or timetable
  • Ensure preparation for change of activity or routine
  • Extra support and identified strategies to manage time limited tasks, transitions and unexpected events e.g. use of timer, additional time, surprise card, first-next board
  • Teach strategies to deal with stressful events and identify strategy if pupil needs to be withdrawn e.g. a selection of anxiety reducing activities
  • Minimise choice, eg: provide two positive options
  • Regular mentor support, including adults or peers
  • Use Social stories to support understanding of different situations

Sensitivity to sensory stimuli

  • be aware of the pupil's sensory profile and typical triggers, use a Sensory checklist to investigate
  • anticipate sensory overload in order to intervene at an early stage. Discuss with parent carers about how sensory overload is managed at home
  • sensory or regulatory breaks and snacks. The 4 R's of co-regulation - Regulate, Relate, Reflect and Repair (Louise Bomber)
  • be flexible with uniform policy
  • consider the environment e.g. noise, room temperature, visual stimuli, proximity
  • maintain a flexible approach to transitions e.g. between lessons and to and from the setting
  • provide access to a calm, safe space
  • give opportunities for sensory circuits and sensory rooms or resources
  • staff to work together with other professionals to share strategies and advice to support the CYP's sensory diet

Physical outbursts causing harm to others and/or to self and/or damage to property

  • a consistent approach to managing individuals with reasonable adjustments made
  • recognise that behaviour is a communication and understand the CYP unmet needs
  • understanding the frequency and location of triggers
  • communication with families about what might be happening at home (e.g. divorce, bereavement, illness), strategies that work/don't work and relaying this information to staff
  • preventative strategies in place
  • provide a safe area/reflection room
  • appropriate relationship-based de-escalation and regulation strategies in place
  • risk management plan in place
  • Use of co-constructed reintegration plans A clear plan of action, agreed with parent carers with regard to physical intervention
  • See Section Two: Social, emotional and mental health difficulties

Sources of Support

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