The Early Intervention class caters for children with a diagnosis of autism through the DSM V. The class provides support to children between the ages of three and five. The early intervention program helps children gain skills that they usually learn in the first two years of life such as physical skills, thinking skills, communication skills, social skills and emotional skills among others.
The Early Intervention class is fully equipped to meet the needs of all children, while inspiring a creative and playful atmosphere. The class has access to a designated outdoor play area where children can enjoy an activity break and even use one of our Activ boards. The class also has a designated sensory room. This allows children the opportunity to take a sensory break at any point during the school day if they require it.
We engage with the Aistear curriculum where all learning occurs through play and exploration with a lively emphasis on communication, problem solving and social skills. This nurturing environment helps to develop the children’s confidence and self-esteem, while acquiring skills which will help them as they progress through their school years.
Thematic planning is used with an overall theme of the month (eg. food) broken down into weekly themes. (eg. preparing food, shopping for food, the restaurant, healthy eating). Real life experiences are central to each theme and can involve both in-school and out of school practical learning. (eg. preparing their own morning snack or visiting the local café). These kinds of experiences promote the social and emotional development of the child and increase independence and self-motivation.
The Early Intervention school day starts at 9.10am and finishes at 1.50pm. Many of our Early Intervention students continue on to attend our primary school and this transition is very smooth as a result of the familiarity the pupils already have with staff, the school building and facilities. A transition to mainstream school, however, is also supported with communication between teachers and assisted visits.
Transport to our Early Intervention setting is available through the Department of Education’s school transport scheme. Bus escorts are employed where necessary and the Early Intervention class itself is staffed by a teacher and two SNAs.
The primary sector at St Clare’s comprises of a number of classes. All classes follow the national primary curriculum in all subject areas with the exception of Irish. The curriculum is differentiated and carefully tailored to meet the specific needs of each pupil and at the same time challenge pupils to succeed and achieve to the best of their ability.
Pupils enjoy low pupil-teacher ratios in class. Class sizes range from six to eight pupils per class. Learning takes place individually, in pairs as well as in small and large groups. Teachers adapt their teaching style to suit the particular needs present in the class and employ a broad variety of teaching approaches. Station teaching and incorporating TEACCH approaches enable teachers to target pupils’ individual levels in these subject areas. Specific programmes such as PECS, Lámh and ICT programs are used to develop and encourage communication skills. A number of curricular programmes are also incorporated such as numicon, touch maths, edmark, POPS reading programme and others.
Each pupil benefits from a Student Support Plan which is drawn up at the beginning of the year. This involves input from all stakeholders including teachers, pupils, parents, principal, SNA’s, NEPS psychologists, Speech and Language therapists, Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists and other stakeholders. The student support plan sets out very specific targets for each pupil and is reviewed regularly.
At St. Clare’s School, there are a number of programmes available at Junior Cycle level. The New Junior Cycle Program at level 1 is used, as well as the ASDAN programme. It is also possible to follow a combination of both options.
The Level 1 Learning Programme (L1LP) allows students to participate in a learning programme organised by the state exams commission. The programme takes place over 3-6 years. Upon completion, the student will receive a QQI Level 1 qualification.
The programme covers six priority learning units:
- Language and Communication
- Personal Care and Wellbeing
- Being Part of a Community
- The Arts
- Physical Education
Students also engage in three short courses entitled:
- Food Glorious Food
- Around the World in Eighty Days
- Keeping Well, Looking Good, Feeling Great.
The senior students in St. Clare’s school have been participating in both the Transition Challenge and the Towards Independence Programmes over the last 10 years. These programmes offer the students a learner-centred activity-based curriculum that can continue on into adulthood. Their work is accredited through the postal option and the certificates are presented to our school leavers.
In the Transition Challenge, there are 5 Modules with nine sections in each module to be completed. It is a two-year programme but we start it when the student is 15 thus giving him/her ample time to practice and process the information presented. As the student progresses through the activities and modules the teacher records the student’s achievement and the level of support the student needs e.g. N.H (no help), SH (spoken/signed help), GH (gestural help), PH (physical help) SH (sensory help, ER (experience recorded). Thus, the programme is suitable for all students who experience challenges in learning.
This programme is structured differently with separate stand-alone modules. The number of sections to be completed in each module will vary depending on the module and level chosen, sensory, introduction, intermediate, and progression. The Sensory based modules are suitable for students with severe to profound learning challenges and these students can also participate in the more advanced modules through the Experience Recorded option in Levels of Support.
There are so many modules to choose from (70 in total) here are some of the modules our school has completed.
- Personal Care Routines: Sensory/Introduction
- Baking Sensory
- Myself and Others
- Sound Rhythm and Music
- Independent Living
- Meal Preparation and Cooking: Sensory/Introduction/Progression
- Developing Communication Skills: Introduction/ Progression
- Developing Numeracy Skills