Class F

This class had an interesting range of needs. It is a primary class of nine autistic spectrum disorder students who are all very different. All members of this class struggle to understand the tasks expected of them during lessons, despite the repetition of them, and they can be incredibly distracted, running off whenever they like. There are many teaching assistants with this class who also convey a brilliant understanding of each child and do well to keep them doing some form of activity during PE. Makaton is employed during these classes which most members of the class often pay attention to, though I’ve never seen the students attempting to use it themselves. With this class, me and the PE teacher have been using skittles and basketballs for target practice - this is to improve visual acuity, hand-eye-coordination, and motor functional ability within arms and hands.

I was told that Pupil 1 was thought to have a similar cognition of a 9 month year old baby and struggled to understand almost anything that is said to him. He does not talk, and he is capable of walking independently but he prefers to push a trolley along to help him. He can be surprisingly volatile; if he is being made to perform a task he does not like he has a tendency to pull hair, bite, and grip tightly. In this situation, teaching assistants have to be cool but firm with him and clearly state “no, you mustn’t do that,” which generally works.

Pupil 2 sometimes fails to engage in any activity with the group; he has a tendency to run to a corner, screaming, and sit there for the rest of the lesson as soon as he is through the door. However one of the teaching assistants who clearly knows this student well never fails to give up on him - she will always follow him to the corner and gently encourage him to join the rest of the group and perform the given tasks. After some time she manages to convince Pupil 2 to have one or two goes at throwing a ball at the skittles, but he’ll often return to his corner where he is clearly more comfortable. But still this teaching assistant stays by him and will find something else for him to do, like rolling a ball to him in his corner which he rolls back. I think this is another one of the many demonstrations of the irreplaceable values that teaching assistants have within a special needs class.

Pupil 3 is interesting because she is so subdued - a stark contrast to every other pupil in the class. She is completely unuttered and despite being distracted like the other students, she doesn’t run off or cause a fuss, though she does have a habit of slowly wandering away from where she is supposed to be. When given a task she fails to respond and needs lots of guidance, however she is incredibly docile and will facilitate any physical guidance issued, which makes Pupil 3 quite easy to keep on task - whether she understands or not is a different matter.

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