At Oaklands School, we feel that one of the most important and effective ways of supporting our pupils is by working with their parents and guardians. By supporting the family to understand Autism, we build confidence, knowledge, and skills, empowering parents, to help their child learn and develop in the future.
Early Bird plus is a National Autistic Society programme for parents of pupils with a diagnosis of Autism in Early Years or Key Stage one (4-8 years). The Early Bird approach is a three month programme (1 x weekly for ten weeks) offering a positive approach, with parents and support staff from the school (specifically from the child’s class) working together to offer consistent support. The content of the programme focuses on three interlocking content strands:
• understand the autism
• improving communication
• analysing and understanding behaviour
Understanding autism first helps explain child’s communication and behaviour.
We have three members of staff who are trained to lead the programme at Oaklands; Sarah Osborne (Deputy Head Teacher), Manisha Kataria (Teacher) and Ruqia Mohammed (TA3), and we have been running Early Bird Plus on site for three years.
The Early Bird Plus trainers encourage the parents and support staff to work together, sharing information, planning and communicating to problem solve, nurturing close links between home and school. The training consists of a collection of good practice including the NAS SPELL approach; Structure, Positive, Empathy, Low Arousal and Links. Teams use a programme information book, real-life film clips and stories to discuss the strands.
During two of the sessions, the trainers visit the parents in the home setting, to further
At the end of the ten weeks, there is a celebration and certificates! 100% of parents attending the course at Oaklands have felt that it has increased their understanding of their child’s Autism, that they enjoyed attending the programme, and that their communication with their child has improved since attending the course.
The group meet up again after three months, to catch up, and discuss any further changes. By then, the links between home and school are well established, with continued communication and shared support.