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 BERIS is Heathermount’s hierarchical autism specific approach to supporting students on the autistic spectrum.

Body Basics - I learn to (I can be) calm

  • Being calm is the fundamental requirement for students to engage in learning. Unless students are calm, learning will not take place. Students are encouraged to use a variety of calming strategies such as taking a specific amount of time out away from the group (monitored by staff), asking for a massage, using sensory toys and equipment for a specified amount of time.
  • We also encourage students to recognise their bodily changes when they are becoming anxious and implementing calm plans before they go into meltdown.

Environment - I learn to (I can) use systems of work

  • The environment is structured for learning through the use of group tables, work bays for independent work, visual timetables, task sheets etc. Structures are individualised and flexible. The environment is labelled according to the individual needs of the class.
  • We recognise when a child needs to be out of the classroom environment and learning can take place outside or in a different room away from the main group.

Relatedness - I learn to (I can) relate to others

  • Supporting the development of theory of mind – understanding how their actions can affect others.
  • Helping the students to be aware of the world around them and how they fit into society.
  • The generalisation of social skills by using opportunities to practise what they have learnt at school in other settings.
  • Understanding the need to communicate appropriately and not using behaviour to communicate.
  • Individualised visual cues and prompts are used to support appropriate communication.
  • Students are actively taught how to ask for help.

Insight - I learn to (I can) think about what I have done

  • Students are actively encouraged and supported to develop their own calm plans.
  • Students are supported to develop insight into their behaviour and that of others. This is taught through the use of social stories and comic strip conversations particularly after an incident has occurred.
  • Students are encouraged to acknowledge and celebrate their autism and that of others.

Self-belief - I CAN... - I just haven’t learnt it yet.

  • Students are encouraged to access all of their skills. (Pictorial/visual evidence is used to remind the students.)
  • Students are encouraged to face challenges in order to accept their own weaknesses and set targets. This helps to promote self-esteem.
  • Heathermount actively promotes an ‘I can ...’ philosophy in which students learn that it’s OK to make mistakes as long as you learn from them.