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CASE STUDY William, Extensive, Cognitive

Year level
Educational setting
Special school

Level of adjustment
Category of disability
Included in data collection

William's story

William is a 16-year-old boy with a diagnosis of severe intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder. He attends a specialist school in a large regional city and participates in some mainstream programs as part of the school’s satellite unit situated in a secondary college campus near his school.

William is non-verbal, communicating his needs using gestures, some keyword signing, and the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS). Though William generally enjoys attending school, he has difficulties with sensory integration and requires significant supervision and assistance at all times and in all settings.

William requires extensive support to manage his behavioural responses to sensory stimuli. It is difficult to predict his reaction to any given sensory input. As a result, staff regularly undertake functional behaviour analyses to evaluate William’s engagement with his environment in all settings – school sites, the community and the home. From these analyses, a comprehensive behaviour management plan is put in place to ensure William is provided with consistent responses and strategies that best support his complex needs.

William’s educational program focuses on functional skills in the key areas of self-care, communication, personal safety and preparing for post-school options. William requires intensive adult assistance for all components of his educational program.

Current personalised learning plan goals for William include:

  • independently completing some steps when dressing and undressing
  • indicating personal needs associated with being hot, cold, hungry, or thirsty by using gesture, sign or PECS
  • indicating feelings such as ‘happy’, ‘sad’, ‘angry’, ‘worried’, ‘scared’ or ‘confused’ by using gesture, sign or PECS
  • communicating likes and dislikes through gesture, keyword sign or PECS
  • completing some steps associated with preparing his own meals
  • with prompting, following visual steps in basic hygiene procedures
  • finger-feeding independently and attempting to use utensils when eating
  • responding to single word safety instructions from a familiar adult, such as ‘stop’, ‘wait’ and ‘come’
  • recognising and communicating when feeling unsafe
  • recognising warning signs in the environment.

Information that supports inclusion in the NCCD What's this?

  • Step 1. Is there an adjustment to address disability? Yes

    • Yes, adjustments are provided to enable a student with disability to access education on the same basis as other students.
    • As defined by the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, William has a disorder or malfunction that results in him learning differently from a person without the disorder or malfunction.
  • Do you have evidence? Yes

    • Reports from medical professionals
    • Functional behaviour analyses
    • Behaviour management plan
    • Personalised learning plan
    • Staff training plans/timetables
    • Notes of meetings with parents and staff
  • Step 2. What is the level of adjustment? Extensive

    • William requires full adult assistance and supervision for all aspects of his programs all of the time
    • Highly personalised educational program delivered with support all of the time
    • Adjustments to support Intensive needs relating to personal care and safety all of the time
    • Specialist alternative communication modes (ie provision of an augmentative/alternative communication system)
    • Frequent specialist staff and external agency support and training.
  • Step 3. What is the category of disability? Cognitive

    • William has a cognitive disability.
    • William’s disability has cognitive, social/emotional and sensory aspects.
    • If a student has multiple disabilities, the school team will select whichever disability category has the greatest impact, based on their professional judgement and with the appropriate specialist advice, on the student’s education and is the main driver of adjustments to support their access and participation.
    • The category of disability therefore is cognitive.
  • Step 4. Record and submit the data Yes (Student is included)

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