Working with young people that have an innate fascination with all things ‘You Tube’ it can sometimes be difficult to tear them away; what with the flashy videos and varied music that ‘You Tube’ provides. And when you have more students than computers, occupying the time between turns can sometimes be challenging. One student had a novel solution to this dilemma… The school is full of computers so he’ll request to go to school when access is limited in house. Ordinarily this would be the perfect solution; however this was merely transferring the issue around reliance on the computer. So we bartered around the purpose of going to school, rather than it becoming another computer access source.
At the school we have the role of ‘manager on site’ and part of this role involves checking the school on a nightly basis, making sure lights are turned off and all external doors are locked. So as Tomas enjoys going into school I thought I could make it more purposeful and encourage him to take part in these nightly checks.
Initially this was very much a game for Tomas; he loves nothing more than giving staff the run around. For those of you that know the school it’s a square lay out, so he would wait in one corner for you to appear at the adjacent corner upon which he would head off laughing his head off to the next corner of the building!!! So effectively we were meeting the keeping fit and healthy aspect of his time at the school too! Eventually though he would allow you to catch up with him and then I could start to encourage him into classrooms to check that the doors were locked. Again to start with Tomas was more interested in the contents of cupboards and items left on the tables, so it was very much led by myself with hand over hand support and verbal prompting in order for Tomas to check if the door was locked. Tomas would check a couple of doors with me before requesting to go back to the house which we invariably did in order for him to go through his regular evening routine. The more frequently we were able to do this job though, the longer the time he went with me walking round the different classrooms and eventually we were completing the whole school building, though still requiring the verbal and physical prompting. Tomas appeared to really enjoy this new found responsibility and halfway round he began asking to use the sensory room, where he would sit with a few of the sensory lights on relaxing for up to 15 minutes which we began to find helped Tomas with his self-regulation, calming and settling down ready for bed.
As time went by Tomas became considerably more independent in checking the doors, needing little to no prompting, and gesturing to me when he stumbled across a classroom door that was open and that I needed to come over to lock. The next step going forward with this is to obtain a lanyard and key for Tomas, this would support his communication development and also be a visual clue to both him and staff supporting him of his responsibilities.
Frontline Manager, MacIntyre School