Ken Greaves - Child Development
Ken Greaves is an expert in the field of child development, learning and assessment, particularly for individuals with educational difficulties and challenges including autism, dyslexia and ADHD. He is trained as a chartered psychologist and scientist with over 25 years of experience.
Ken's background also includes work as an expert witness, providing insight as a Senior Specialist, sharing information as an honorary lecturer and enhancing knowledge and practice in the fields of educational psychology, learning difficulties and communication.
ASD Visual Aids Product Review
I thought that the style and approach of the resources was excellent. The Home Pack has been carefully designed with the needs of children in mind, and as they are based on proven approaches and research, the materials are extremely effective.
In particular, I was impressed with how the materials could enhance communication, development and relationship building skills, both in a traditional classroom setting and also more informal places like the child's home or other locations.
The materials can also help to plug gaps in teaching and learning through all of the stages of a child's development and could be expanded to help young adults or others with learning or behavioural difficulties.
"These materials are extremely good for helping children, young people and families learn how to communicate."
In all, these are very good, effective resources that can be used consistently across all settings to provide support and clear ways of learning, interacting and communicating with children at various stages of development.
"In particular, I can see them being very useful for helping children express their emotions and provide assistance to them as they start to build relationships."
To find out more about Ken and the services he provides, please visit: http://kmgconsultants.co.uk/index.html
HCPC Registered Practitioner & Chartered Psychologist
Jenny Ronayne - Director of ASPECT
Jenny Ronayne is Director of ASPECT (Autism Spectrum Counselling and Training), an organisation which offers diagnostic assessments, specialist counselling to individuals with Aspergers/autism, their spouses and other family members. ASPECT also provides training in understanding and working with those with Aspergers/autism to those working in education, social services, caring professions, health, youth offending and law enforcement. Jenny has over 20 years experience in Aspergers/autism and works both privately and in the NHS as child mental health worker on the National and Specialist autism team at the Maudsley Hospital, London.
Here is her review of the Communication Pack
These are visual aids which are beautifully produced and presented. Based on tried and trusted methods of making communication clear for the child with ASD, these visual aids include a ring binder which contains a comprehensive array of picture cards attached by Velcro, which cover timetables, social communication and self-help as well as templates for social stories which can be devised specifically for the individual child (sitting on the mat quietly, transition and moving on, making friends etc). This kit comes with a folding tabletop stand on which the timetable pictures can be fixed, making the day's programme clear and predictable for the child. Individual timetables for the child are also supplied. Other pages on the stand deal with 'Good listening', 'Now and Next' and a 'solution sheet' to remind the child what to do when stressed and anxious. These are all items which can transform the child (and teacher's) school experience – designed to remove uncertainty and make clear not only what will happen next but also what is expected. Actually, all these things would also be helpful and reassuring for any child, with ASD or not (unfortunately it doesn't work the other way round – strategies used for neurotypical children can be not only useless but upsetting for the ASD child, making matters worse).
A specially good idea is the rubber wrist band – green on one side, with the words 'happy to talk' and red on the other 'please leave me alone'. Too many times the situation is made worse because the adult persists in questioning the child about what is wrong – almost guaranteed to produce a meltdown as the child struggles to process all the language, deal with the proximity of the adult, not knowing what their expectations or intentions are. This way the child is likely to feel more in control and safer.
The keyring with Velcro-fastened pictures can be worn by the adult so that these picture messages are at hand when needed, eg; no hitting, danger, time out, gentle, etc. Picture fans also enable the child to express discomfort (too hot, crowded, etc), or where they have hurt themselves (head, arm, etc) and emotions. Children with ASD are particularly poor at recognising and expressing emotions (though they can feel them intensely) and any method which helps them to recognise and express their feelings is to be welcomed.
Helping children with ASD to improve their ability to communicate and develop a better understanding of behaviour, expectations and intentions, is vitally important for optimal outcome as adults. I would say that aids such as ASD Visual Aids are an essential piece of kit for any school or establishment (or home) wishing to support the ASD child.
Julia and Rachel - Directors of US-L
Julia and Rachel, Directors of US-L, provide training in effective, high quality inclusive teaching for children and young people across the range of Specific Learning Difficulties [SpLD], dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia, ASD and ADHD.
Understanding and supporting learning is at the heart of the US-L approach. The training is designed to support teachers meet the specific needs of children and young people with a SpLD in light of the new SEN Code of Practice to be implemented in September 2014.
Rachel is also a consultant, associate lecturer at Manchester University and trainer for the British Dyslexia Association alongside supporting adults with dyslexia in the workplace. Julia is a SpLD consultant advising schools, runs an OCR Diploma Level 5 course and is s trainer for the BDA and on a freelance basis working in the UK and abroad.
Review - ASD Visual Aids, Making Communication simple
Teachers need manageable resources that make a difference to the teaching and learning experience. ASD have achieved this in their comprehensive 'Visual Aids' tool. Its appealing graphics and simple visual representations enable children and young people to be heard and understood by both adults and children. By enabling this communication confidence and security can be built and frustration reduced.
The "Visual Aids" tool covers vocabulary relating to the school time table, social interaction and self help, social communication and supports the development of social interaction. The breadth of vocabulary makes the tool versatile so it can be used inside and outside the classroom as well as at home.
The resources are well organised and easy to use. They come in a 'trendy' school bag so they are not intrusive or obvious which mirrors the inclusive practice they facilitate. No detail has been overlooked as there is even a small American football visible in a side pocket of the bag.
This well thought out resource is an essential tool to aid the educational and social development of children and young people with ASD. It provides the crucial medium to enable effective communication.
Alison is an experienced Speech and Language Therapist and Chartered Psychologist specialising in working with children with Autism Spectrum Disorders . She also manages a large team of NHS Speech and Language Therapists working with school aged children in both mainstream and specialist settings in London. Alison is an adviser on ASD to the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists and was part of the clinical guideline development group for the NICE guideline on intervention with children with ASD. Alison is an Honorary Lecturer at City University.
Review of the Home Pack user Guide
I really enjoyed reviewing these materials. It is fantastic to see prepared materials which will reduce the amount of time spent cutting , sticking and laminating! The materials are visually appealing and well produced with robust materials. Attention to detail is apparent in the vocabulary selection and I felt that the parent friendly user guide was well written to include a balance between practical advice and clear rationale. I think the proposed checklist will be helpful and help guide families/key staff around extension of vocabulary and functional use.
The key ring is very practical and portable so should make use across a range of contexts more achievable. I would however suggest gradual introduction of the symbols on the key ring according to the individual needs of the child as the symbols included on the key ring as standard are varied and serve a number of different functions.
The feelings fan and sensory fan are also very useful, again consideration needs to be given to the needs of the individual child in introducing these, both in terms of context and vocabulary.
In conclusion I would suggest these are excellent resources which can be easily customised to meet the needs of the individual child.
C.Psychol, M.Sc (Mental Health and Learning Disabilities)