One of the most exciting developments that we have been involved in over the last year or so is the work we are doing with those students on the autistic spectrum who are sometimes described as being “hard to reach.”
In May 2011 we were invited by Yeoman Park School in Mansfield to see if we could find a creative way to engage with a cohort of students on the autistic spectrum. These students were such that everyone was having difficulty connecting with them. After a pre-pilot project where we met the students and staff in their classrooms and worked with them in their hall, we [John Naylor Advanced skills teacher from Yeoman Park and the Bamboozle team] designed a pilot project that involved us working with two groups of ASD students for six days over as many weeks. One was a group of three students from different classes each with a one to one member of staff; the other was a class of five students with 4 staff. Each day followed the same pattern – two sessions in the morning, one with each group, each about 45 minutes to an hour long. In the afternoon we ran an INSET session with the staff who had attended the morning sessions.
The project also provided for a documenter who attended all the practical sessions and some of the INSET and a video maker who attended two of the days. The result is that we have a report and film of the evidence of what was achieved.
The responses of the students were remarkable. For example Johnny usually spends his days curled up in a ball, very difficult to stimulate. During the sessions he uncurled, reached out to engage with objects and made decisions. Beth was scared of balloons – so much so that she became very distressed if there were any in the same room as her. By the end of one session which had as its setting balls and balloons she happily took a balloon from one of the team and went off to her classroom with it!
Another of the results of the project is that we discovered nine identifiable methods of engagement which Bamboozle used during the sessions. These have been recorded in a report and on film and provide the school and Bamboozle with a methodology to continue to engage with the students and others.
Read about what John Naylor and assistant head teacher Christina House said about the project. View their testimonials.
Since then we have explored and developed this methodology at Sunfield Residential School in Clent, Worcestershire, Click to see what Sunfield staff say, Isebrook School in Kettering and Hillcrest School in South Bedfordshire.
The result is an emerging way of working that seems to have a very high degree of success in engaging students at the harder to reach end of the Autistic Spectrum. If you would like to hear more about this way of working and have any such ‘hard to reach’ students then please contact us to see whether we can work together to help these students access the world more effectively. 0116 255 2065 or emailchristopher@bamboozletheatre.