On 15th October 2002 Stephanie Lord came to talk about Heathermount Learning Centre - a school for high-functioning autism and Aspergers Syndrome in Ascot. Stephanie is the Principal of the centre and she talked to our meeting about some of strategies that the school uses. She spoke for about an hour and a half and her presentation is available to listen to in either RealAudio format or MP3 format. In order to listen to the talk in Real Audio format you must have RealPlayer installed on your computer. You can follow the instructions on the BBC Radio 4 website on how to download the free version of the player from RealNetworks. For the MP3 recordings, most PC's will already have suitable software - however the Windows Media Player available at the Windows Media Site is known to play these files particularly well. Please note that if you select MP3 format, that there will be a signifcant delay before the sound file plays, whereas with real audio, you will hear the recording within a few seconds. The recording is broken down into 6 sections. Each section covers a topic or a question. Just click on the file type of the title or topic that interests you to start listening. Also included is a Microsoft Powerpoint Presentation which will open up in a separate window. Choose the best format to view with your computer. The powerpoint presentation includes material not covered in the talk. Also the some of the points from the body basic programme which is discussed in the talk are also in a separate web page which will open up in a new window.
Read the review of the evening
Some Heathermount pupils have failed in a mainstream environment, perhaps because of late diagnosis of their disability, and therefore have a sense of failure in addition to their autistic difficulties. They often have additional diagnoses such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Heathermount has a unique approach which it calls Connective Education, in which knowledge is integrated with learning that is relevant and connected to real life situations. There is also emphasis on stress management through relaxation techniques aimed at reducing the high levels of anxiety and frustration observed in many students.
The basis of Connective Education is to give pupils a clear sense of having a task with a beginning, middle and end. They have a 'day book' which lists the tasks to be done, where to do them, which member of staff will help, how they will know they have finished, and what the reward for finishing will be.
For the older students (age 14 - 19) the National Curriculum subjects are organised into skills that can lead to an NVQ qualification. So literacy and numeracy studies can be used to work for NVQ in Business Studies; history, geography and science can be grouped together and lead to an NVQ in horticulture, and 'domestic science' skills can lead to a catering qualification. The aim is to develop skills for independent living and work.
Stephanie went on to talk more about the physical effects of stress on young people with Aspergers or high functioning autism, and taught everyone a simple back massage which is practised at Heathermount to aid relaxation.
View the PresentationMs Powerpoint 95+ users
Web Presentation (if Power Point not available)
View the Body Basic Programme PaperView Web Page
Listen to the recording
3. Detailing the Difficulties 1: Research
Paper; High Prevalence of High Anxiety and Mood Problems; Sleep
Disturbance, Appetite Problems; Reduced Energy Levels; Increase in
Repetitive Questioning; Increase in Stereotypical Behaviours; High
incidence of Depressive Illnesses; Loss of Well Being; Fight and
Flight; Negativity; Routines and rituals; . Length 7 minutes 2 seconds.
4. Detailing the Difficulties 2: Reduced
tolerance to heat, noise and crowds. Loss of control and
destructiveness; Anxiety levels and associated physiological problems;
Variance in Blood Sugar Levels; Increased pulse rate;. Length: 6 minutes 37 seconds.
Review is © 2002 Sara Truman. Content is © 2002 Heathermount TLC. Our thanks to Stephanie Lord for giving permission for the recordings and material to be made available.
For enquiries about Heathermount The Learning Centre, the address is
Heathermount The Learning Centre, Devenish Road, Ascot, Berks SL5 9PG. Tel: 01344 875101.
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