Hickman, C. and Jones, K. (2007) An investigation of an interactive skill building programme for pupils with autistic spectrum disorders with a focus on systems and delivery. Paper presented to: Autism-Europe Oslo, Oslo, Norway, 31 August-2 September 2007.
Background: To investigate a service model developed by Local Authority (LA) support services to promote interactive skill building with pupils with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) with a specific remit to promote staff development and optimise limited resources. Objectives: To study the factors driving the programme from within the LA, the professional development needs of teaching assistants and the relevance of interactive approaches for pupils with communication difficulties in mainstream schools. Methods: An individual case study approach was adopted. Three strands were identified i) the LA perspective ii) the role of the Teaching Assistant iii) the effectiveness of interactive techniques. The nature of effective interaction techniques was outlined together with the need to recognise the autistic perspective in developing effective interventions. The methodology centred on participant observation and data gathered from key players and documentation. Results: Data was collated from key stakeholders from the three strands of study. This highlighted the effectiveness of the service model together with the ability of interactive approaches to enhance opportunities for pupils with ASD. Data illustrated other factors including the need for effective partnerships, explicit communication, focused training and appropriate systems to optimise effectiveness. Conclusion: The report concluded that a systemic approach to supporting schools by Support Services can be an effective way of addressing the need to optimise resources, promote the effective and long term development of teaching assistants and enhance the quality of life for pupils with ASD in mainstream settings.