Hillside Specialist School uses a range of traditional and alternative teaching techniques in order to maximise the learning opportunities for the pupils who attend. All pupils have highly individualised learning programmes to assist them to overcome their particular barriers to learning, such as communication or sensory difficulties. The school promotes the use of other specialist teaching techniques and programmes such as Intensive Interaction, Picture Exchange Communication Systems (PECS), Makaton, and electronic resources to aid augmented communication. The programmes of the speech and language therapists are fully integrated into the child’s teaching and learning opportunities. We also offer additional programmes and therapies, such as Sensory Integration and Dance therapy.
Many of the classrooms are carefully organised in order to address a central need of pupils with autism to understand and order the events of their day. Employing techniques such as TEACCH, the classroom can be arranged into discrete areas with a defined purpose assisting the pupil to develop appropriate responses/actions to those areas that aids comprehension and reduces anxiety. Most classrooms provide a low-arousal learning environment to enable pupils to modulate their sensory needs and focus on specific tasks. There may be group tables, individual workstations and areas designed to support pupils proprioceptive and vestibular needs.
Our overall aim is to provide a highly structured teaching environment in which the pupil feels safe and in which they have a degree of control and predictability: An environment that addresses the child’s central need to learn to manage their autism so that they may develop and achieve.