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Case Study for the standards Oscar's story

Case details
Year level
Educational setting
Mainstream school

Oscar's story

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.



  • Transition meetings and planning occurred in kindergarten to prepare for transition to school.
  • After Oscar and his twin were enrolled, the school met with Oscar and his family to discuss his likes/interests, dislikes, strategies that help Oscar learn, and motivators.
  • The teacher used a transition statement prepared by the preschool, as well as feedback from the parent meeting, to plan learning experiences based on Oscar’s strengths.
  • A social story was developed and provided to the preschool teacher and to Oscar’s parents to assist with transition.
  • As this is a rural school with only one class in each year level, Oscar was placed in the same class as his twin but, following the request of Oscar’s parents and advice from the preschool teacher, was buddied with another peer group.


  • Before commencing any activity, Oscar’s teacher outlines for students what is expected using a visual timetable and pictorial checklist. During ‘mat time’, all students are given the option of sitting on the floor, cushions or chairs.
  • Oscar has been taught to use his AAC system to request a break when overwhelmed.
  • Oscar’s family indicated they have been using a two-minute timer at home and it has been an effective strategy. Oscar’s teacher has agreed to trial this strategy during lessons (while monitoring for possible anxiety). As soon as a break is requested, Oscar can move to a quiet location of the classroom where a two-minute timer is set, and Oscar then is given the choice to return to his desk or to complete the activity with one-to-one support from an education assistant.
  • A safety plan and behaviour plan written in collaboration with Oscar’s parents outline ways to reduce the anxiety experienced during transition times by increasing Oscar’s engagement in preferred activities with preferred peers.
  • The safety plan also lists strategies that will be used if Oscar leaves the school grounds. Oscar is shown places to go (e.g. library) if he feels overwhelmed during the lunchtime/outdoor play and needs a quiet space. There is an iPad kept in the library with preloaded train videos that Oscar can watch, and a countdown time to let Oscar know how long he can stay. This is available only during lunchbreaks. If Oscar is overwhelmed in class, his teacher also has an iPad in the room with learning activities that involve trains. 


  • The first term HPE curriculum focuses on the rules of games students can play at lunch and how to safely use playground equipment so that Oscar can learn how to be involved in lunch-time activities.
  • Oscar’s teacher, guided by Oscar, identified peers Oscar prefers to work with and plans activities to work within this group.
  • The classroom teacher, learning support teacher and education assistant collaboratively design an intensive, PLP for Oscar using a highly modified curriculum.
  • Oscar is provided intensive, individualised instruction on his AAC system with phrases added to increase his communicative range, with input from a speech and language pathologist.
  • Oscar’s personal interests, such as in transportation, are used as a hook for non-preferred learning activities. 

Support services

  • An education assistant supports the class teacher by developing visual schedules, choice boards and AAC symbols for use in the classroom.
  • As part of the behaviour plan, the Deputy Principal timetabled increased supervision during break times and transitions, PE lessons and excursions.
  • Oscar’s NDIS funded occupational therapist has been invited into the school, at the request of Oscar’s parents, to conduct a sensory needs assessment which will be used to revise Oscar’s plan if needed.
  • Oscar’s teacher or education assistant writes in a daily communication book, stating his progress at school that day, and outlining the schedule of activities for the next day to help Oscar’s parents prepare him for school. Oscar’s parents also write in this book, and their notes are reviewed daily.
  • Once per term, Oscar and his family are invited to a program support meeting to discuss Oscar’s progress, and review his behaviour support and safety plan and adjustments made for his learning.

Harassment and victimisation

  • Oscar’s teacher has observed Oscar’s twin becoming irritable and lashing out in class when Oscar is allowed to take breaks, so has introduced some reading materials during literacy block that discuss sibling relationships. These books were recommended by the learning consultant ASD/behaviour following discussion with Oscar’s parents at the last program support meeting.
  • The Year 6 students were taught to be good bystanders and to be on the lookout during lunch breaks for younger students who look like they need a friend or need help. 

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