Ryder is a 13-year-old boy who attends a rural secondary school. He was identified as having 18P chromosomal deletion when he was 2 years old. Assessments have shown him to have movement and coordination difficulties, hearing loss and an associated intellectual disability. Ryder uses key word signing and an augmented communication device (AAC). He is fitted with a hearing aid in both ears and his teacher uses a sound field amplification system in the classroom.
Ryder’s class has 24 students taught by a team of four teachers who deliver most of his Year 7 subjects. Ryder's teachers plan his program in collaboration with a specialist learning support teacher and a teacher assistant who both work with Ryder. Teachers adjust content in all learning areas into personalised projects centred on Ryder’s learning goals in mathematics, reading and writing. The adjustments to the curriculum are documented in a personalised learning plan that is updated weekly by teachers in consultation with the learning support teacher and teacher assistant. Ryder is able to work independently at times once the teacher or teacher assistant help to get him started and explain what his goals for the lesson are. He requires regular check-ins to ensure he is on track.
To expand his communication skills, Ryder is learning to touch-type, supported by the teacher assistant for 15 minutes, five times per week. He receives National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) funding for speech and occupational therapy (OT) at home and his school principal has agreed to allow the NDIS therapists to provide therapy at school as well. This consists of two one-hour therapy sessions each week (one hour for speech therapy and one hour for OT). With parental consent, Ryder’s therapists collaborate with his teachers and members of the school support team, regarding strategies staff can adopt to support Ryder in the school environment. These are summarised in a student profile document made available to all teachers through the school’s Learning Management System. This document is reviewed bi-annually.
The teacher assistant meets Ryder at school drop-off each morning and escorts him back to the car in the afternoon, as he has difficulty navigating through the school’s crowded entry. The current aim is to reduce this assistance so that Ryder can be more independent.
Ryder’s classroom is set up in an open learning space, which means he remains in the same room for all subjects except one, which he attends in a specialist room that he accesses via a lift. This is because he has had foot surgery to straighten his feet and cannot currently access the stairs.
Ryder is prompted by a teacher assistant to go to the toilet in the morning and afternoon. Ryder requires support when he changes uniform for physical education three times a week.
To assist with transition and social situations, Ryder’s teachers and teacher assistant use visual schedules, social stories and carry cards as visual reminders (eg keep hands to myself; kissing is for family; I eat my own food; I don’t eat others' food). Ryder also participates in the school’s social skills program once per fortnight, run by a visiting psychologist.
All teachers monitor Ryder during recess and lunch as part of standard school supervision policy. He has a supportive peer social group. When he is fatigued, his teacher assistant accompanies him to a quiet space for breaks.
The teacher assistant communicates with Ryder’s teachers via a cloud-based collaborative document. This is used by teachers to give instructions to the teacher assistant about the focus of Ryder’s work and also as a platform for the teacher assistant to provide feedback to the teachers on Ryder’s daily progress.
Ryder’s mother is in regular contact with the school via email, informing them of any challenges experienced at home that might impact on his learning at school. The school (teachers and learning support teacher) also provide regular feedback regarding his achievements at school. On average this communication occurs at least once per week.
The school conducts support group meetings with Ryder’s family and his external specialists once per term to discuss his progress and review his personalised learning plan, behaviour support plan and safety plan.