At MacIntyre, we know that a person’s interests are a vital part of their personality and can impact how they learn. For *George, a MacIntyre No Limits student, the key to success was utilising his love of cartoons.
Before George joined MacIntyre No Limits, our personalised education programme, he found traditional educational settings challenging. Loud noises and sharing space with others caused George to feel stressed. In response, he would cause damage to his surroundings.
To help him to manage his behaviour, George had been responding to a reward chart. The aim of this was to reinforce positive behaviour when out in the community and keep him safe.
When George moved to MacIntyre No Limits, staff continued to adopt the reward chart. But, this changed once staff returned from PBS training. Here the team learned that the chart may, in fact, be too restrictive.
For staff, this came as a shock. What they thought was supporting George may have been having an adverse effect. Immediately, staff decided it was best to leave the decision in George's hands.
“We returned from training and spoke to George, apologising for imposing the chart on him. We suggested that we remove it from his routine, but George opposed this. He understood why we had introduced it and suggested that he adopt it for himself.”
Taking ownership of the chart had a huge impact on George's behaviour for the better. What began as a chart to track his behaviour, became a reflection of his thoughts and feelings. By creating his own consequences, George felt empowered.
With George's behaviour continuing to improve, staff explored ways to keep him focused. The solution? His love for cartoons, iPads, toy cars and bottle lids.
For staff, it was time to get creative. Drawing upon George's love of cartoons, they began to construct their own comics. Luckily for George, a member of staff had a particular talent for drawing. He began to draw characters George adored alongside empty speech bubbles. Leaving these boxes empty encouraged communication and inspired George to complete tasks.
Staff also found that George was fond of plush toys, and used these to re-focus his attention.
As a result of personalising his learning, George bloomed.
Since then, George has made considerable progress. He has developed independence and completed work experience at a local internet café.
Reflecting on George progress, staff said:
"George is a wonderful young man with a great sense of humour and a desire to do well in everything he attempts. He has shown that he capable of working."
*Names have been changed.