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Complex Communication and Autism

What We Do

  • Develop the fundamentals of communication to allow pupils to:
    • Engage in mutually pleasurable social interactions in ways that are meaningful to them.
    • Attract and maintain the attention of others to communicate their wants and needs.
  • Develop their ability to make choices and communicate their wants and needs using strategies appropriate to their physical and sensory needs.
  • Develop, maximise and maintain their functional sitting, standing and walking skills.
  • Monitor, develop and maintain healthy and well-being in order to maximise quality of life.
  • Develop appropriate self-occupation and leisure skills to provide stimulation at home and in the community.


These intents will be personalised for each student, linking to EHCP aspirations and outcomes, obstacles to learning and formative assessment based on West SILC Pacers and Stepping Out criteria to create a Personalised Learning Plan (PLP).

The activities the pupils engage in do not look like traditional learning however the resources available are carefully planned to ensure the curriculum is broad, balanced, relevant and motivating.  It is important that the pupils' sensory and physical needs are met, so a large focus of the timetable is designed to support development in these areas.  We approach each child as an individual and offer a holistic education to give every pupil opportunities to make progress.  There is a focus on symbol use across all activities which supports pupils to communicate more clearly, reducing anxiety and challenging behaviour.

The SCERTs framework underpins planning and assessment and prioritises learning and development of Social Communication and Emotional Regulations skills.  These skills are essential to enable our pupils to access the curriculum and wider world.

Positive relationships between pupils and staff are the key to effective learning, as much as possible we ignore negative behaviour and promote positive behaviour management.  We try to understand the reasons pupils' might display negative behaviour and recognise all behaviour as a form of communication.  We endeavour to teach pupils more appropriate ways to get their wants and needs met.

We firmly believe that nobody is able to learn if they feel anxious or uncomfortable.  We prioritise emotional regulation over everything else and never ignore a bid for interaction.  The introduction of a sensory specialist OT and Sensory Therapy Room has supported us to develop our skills as a staff team so we are equipped to support pupils' sensory needs so they are able to find a range of strategies to self-regulate.

Many of our pupils demonstrate 'spiky profiles' where their maths and English skills are more advanced than their core skills.  We differentiate the learning for these pupils to ensure they don't lose skills they have developed but are still able to make progress in communication, physical development and PSHE.  We absolutely promote high levels of progress for all learners and value adult led focussed learning where appropriate without losing sight of individual needs.

How We Do It

In CCA we use a developmentally and age appropriate curriculum to facilitate deep and active learning.  All pupils are working below year 1 expectations so we follow the EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage) good practice documents to ensure the curriculum meets the needs of the pupils.   We focus on communication (with support from a Speech and Language Therapist), physical development (with support from a sensory specialist Occupational Therapist and MOVE specialist teachers) and PSHE.  We follow a pupil centred, play based curriculum to develop skills in the 'Fundamentals of Communication' through intensive interaction.  The activities pupils engage in are used as a vehicle to promote communication and interaction and to ensure positive relationships between pupils and staff.  All staff are skilful communicators and they use these skills to engage the pupils in 'intensive interaction' sessions.  We use a playful approach with a focus on the pupils' interests to ensure they are motivated to join us in activities.

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