Oscar is a 5-year-old boy who is in Year 1 at a rural primary school. Oscar was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) by the local ASD assessment team. Transition meetings and planning occurred in kindergarten to prepare for his transition to school. Oscar is a twin, and his brother has been showing increased frustration towards Oscar. Following a request from Oscar’s family, Oscar’s class teacher ensures that during lessons Oscar and his twin work in different peer groups. During guided reading, Oscar’s teacher has been exploring texts that discuss sibling relationships.
Oscar is non-verbal and uses an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) system, with constant adult support at all times. When prompted, Oscar uses his AAC system well and can point to symbols to communicate his needs and preferences. He does not acknowledge people who are present nor when he is addressed. He frequently (daily) attempts to run away so the school has put in place a safety plan, and he is supervised during all transitions throughout the school day including in the playground during recess and lunch. He is also provided with additional supervision during Health and Physical Education lessons and for excursions.
Oscar repeatedly struggles with the structure and daily routine of the classroom, although he finds this much easier when his teacher displays a daily visual schedule. He has difficulty following instructions and engages in avoidant and oppositional behaviour throughout the day (e.g. if required to sit on the mat, he will scream and stand where he is or try leave the classroom). He does, however, respond well to social stories.
Oscar is unable to complete work independently and requires support for learning activities as well as personal support and monitoring. If he is engaging in a preferred activity, he can do this independently and for long periods of time. Oscar enjoys activities that involve transportation, particularly trains, and he will spend quite some time looking at public transport timetables online. His parents have found using a countdown timer to let Oscar know when he needs to finish an activity has reduced meltdown behaviour that follows activities being ceased abruptly. The school has really valued the insights of Oscar’s parents as to what has worked at home and has incorporated these into plans written to support Oscar’s learning, behaviour and safety at school.
Oscar’s learning progression for English, Personal and Social Capabilities and Movement is based on a highly modified curriculum, and he engages with learning activities with the assistance of the classroom teacher, learning support teacher and education assistant. This was put in place after consulting with parents and external specialists. For all other areas of the curriculum, Oscar has also been assessed requiring extensive support and is working at Foundation level outcomes. A daily communication book is shared between staff at the school and Oscar’s parents, providing regular feedback on his learning and behaviours at school and at home.
Oscar has a personalised learning plan (PLP) that records key short-term goals aligned with the curriculum and associated adjustments and strategies. Ongoing monitoring and review of his PLP occurs each term in a program support group meeting with input from specialist staff (e.g. speech pathologist, learning consultant ASD/behaviour) and Oscar’s parents. The emphasis in Health and Physical Education (HPE) lessons is on teaching students the rules of games and giving all students the opportunity to practise using playground equipment safely. During these lessons, there has been a focus on teaching Oscar’s peers how to involve everyone in the game and to ascertain Oscar’s preferred peers. At the same time, the HPE teacher has also been working with the Year 6 students on a playground buddies program.
When Oscar is distressed, he can display risky behaviours such as leaving the school grounds to walk towards the local train station. As a result, a safety plan and a behaviour support plan developed in consultation with Oscar’s family have been implemented and are reviewed alongside the PLP each term. These address behaviours of concern, known triggers, and strategies to address the behaviours (e.g., going to a safe space with an adult to calm down). Positive behaviour support strategies are adopted by staff throughout the day in accordance with the plan. The teachers also use Oscar’s interest in transportation and numbers as a way to engage him and support skill development. Further assessment by an occupational therapist regarding sensory preferences is to be completed. The Deputy Principal has increased playground supervision to monitor the effectiveness of Oscar’s behaviour and safety plans. After discussion with Oscar’s family, the school will invite an occupational therapist to conduct a sensory needs assessment to help identify other potential triggers.