I have over 20 years' SEN experience. I am a specialist in working with students with dyslexia, dyscalculia, focus and concentration issues, dyspraxia and writing challenges, ASD including high-functioning autism, epilepsy, ADD/ ADHD and SpLD including speech/ communication, auditory and sensory processing disorders, executive functions and organisational challenges. I also have extensive experience in building confidence and ability in reading, writing, and grammar and punctuation, as well as building confidence and ability in basic numeracy up to Maths exam attainment. Along with the academic, I also have more than ten years of experience in helping young people with ADD/ ADHD and ASD to develop their social, organisational and listening skills.
I have found that the highest level of success is achieved by drawing on the interests of the individual young person and incorporating these into their development of the skill being focussed upon. With both younger children and those with SPD I have found that incorporating music, rhythm and rhyme into my lessons has made lessons more engaging and increases progress.
My general SEN experience: (dyscalculia, dyslexia, epilepsy, dyspraxia, autism (verbal, non-verbal and high-functioning), speech and communication delay, dyspraxia, ADD, ADHD, auditory/ sensory processing disorders, Global Delay and other Special Educational Needs):
I have taught both classes and individuals with SEN across KS1 to KS4. Other SEN I have experience in supporting are APD, VPD, SPD ADD, ADHD, OCD, PDA, BESD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia, Global Delay, ASD (including ASD with non-verbal and selective mutism). I have a proven record of helping young people to improve and develop their communication and language skills. For those with speech and language delay this is often the focus of support and progress is most successfully made by employing a range of fun and engaging games and activities to encourage positive development in these areas. Social skills is another developmental area that I am often asked to assist with. Through positive reinforcement, fun activities, role play and the use of social stories, I have successfully helped many young people to better understand and improve their social skills. I am also an accredited associate of the Dyslexia Guild. This is renewed yearly. Initially to gain this accreditation I had to go before a panel and evidence my extensive training and experience in SpLD. On a yearly basis I have to evidence relevant CPD training in dyslexia and other CPD in order for my accreditation and membership of the Dyslexia Guild to be continued. This year I have completed an educate training course on dyslexia as part of my CPD as well as continuing to work daily with young people with SpLD. My current doctorate studies are focussing on SpLD and so my life is currently immersed in learning about SpLD, with it being very much a continuous learning process.
My specific experience working with students with dyslexia and/or dyspraxia:
I have a specialism and in excess of 10 years of experience supporting children with dyspraxia, dyslexia and dyscalculia. As a result, I was awarded membership accreditation of the Dyslexia Guild. I have successfully supported students to improve their organisational skills, complete homework, comprehend and access class work, complete specialist dyslexia programs and generally improve confidence. I am competent in using speech and type software packages such as Dragon. I worked recently with a student who progressed from Year 7 to Year 11 with my support and was able to achieve all 8 of her GCSE exams at grades A - C as a result. I use regular fine and gross motor skill activities in order to improve dyscalculia difficulties and so enhance further each students progress. I find that with all students, encouragement and increasing their confidence is key to unlocking their success.
My experience, qualifications and skills of working with young people with ASD:
I specialised in SEN and ASD in particular for my PGCE projects. I have an Ma in ASD, and am currently completing my Doctorate in Education on SpLD, again focussing my research in ASD. I have a sone with ASD who I have guided through education and challenges, and who is now 23. I have taught in SEN schools and non-specialist schools where I have been the specialist in ASD. I currently teach and support young people with ASD both privately and in the independent school where I teach. I have completed numerous training courses in ASD over the last fifteen years and keep up to date with current advice and methods through seminars and CPD. I have found that one of the biggest barriers to learning in those with ASD is anxiety. Establishing a good rapport and relaxed environment when teaching and learning is key to unlocking the young persons progress. Organisation is also a common difficulty for those with ASD and so I deliver lessons that are clear in direction and structure in order to further reduce anxiety. Flexibility is also a key component in teaching a young person with ASD. If a student comes to a lesson with anxiety it is important to allow that student to talk about, and reduce that anxiety if possible. With heightened anxiety learning is unlikely to take place and so helping each student to begin to self manage anxiety is an equally necessary aspect of their lesson’s learning. Often young people with ASD find trusting new people difficult, and so this is something I try to build on whilst increasing rapport through talking about subjects and activities that interest them.
My experience, skills and strategies of working with young students with focus and concentration challenges:
I have worked with primary and secondary children who find concentration and staying till a challenge I both Special Schools, state Schools and my current Independent School setting. Each child's needs and challenges vary as a result of age, SEN and personality. I have found it paramount to build a rapport with each student and understand what they enjoy, what engages them, and what disengages them individually. I have a philosophy that a child who is interested and feels the learning environment is safe will be an engaged child. Introducing a variety of activities, topics, and learning and teaching styles all help to provide more manageable sized chunks of learning and act as much needed 'brain breaks'. I have found that the use of incentives such as quizzes, challenges, project work and rewards can be particularly helpful with incentivising younger learners who struggle with prolonged concentration. I have seen how continued encouragement and reassurance can easily begin to build on a few successful minutes of concentration to ten or twenty minutes of concentration, when patience, understanding and compassion is maintained throughout.
My experience of working with students who lack confidence, anxiety, and who require support with future planning and self-esteem boosting: I have worked with young people both independently and in a school/college setting who have low self-esteem, a lack of direction and anxiety. As part of my school role I am a careers advisor and also support students pastorally. I am also a trained counsellor and this has proven useful when helping young people to increase their confidence and self belief, and in turn giving them direction and motivation to move forward in their life choices, be it personal, academic or career related. My own son (22) suffers from anxiety, poor organisation and a lack of direction and so requires a lots of guidance and support to help navigate his way through life and it’s choices, as well as encouraging and supporting him to be the most successful he can be by building his confidence and self belief. I am pleased to say that he is doing well and is now involved in several projects which are all improving his confidence further and allowing him to build on these positive experiences to achieve more and more as time goes on.
My experience of teaching the KS1 and KS2 curriculum:
My experience working with students who require specialist support with Maths and English: In my SEN role I support young people in overcoming their barriers to learning, helping them to achieve their full potential. For some children this has been subject specific, and I have spent a large percentage of my time improving young peoples' confidence and ability in reading, writing and numeracy. In my current school the ages range from 2 to 16 and so I have a wealth of experience adapting to supporting the very young with basic numeracy, literacy and general engagement, all the way through to supporting subject specific goals for GCSE students. Where necessary I begin by helping children to consolidate the basics in numeracy and literacy including phonics and number bonds. For those with SPD I aim to create a learning environment that makes them feel as comfortable as possible by removing triggers and increasing calming tools such as fidget or pressure toys. My lessons aim to be fun, creative and tailored to the individual student's personality and learning style. Building a fun and friendly rapport helps create a safe and encouraging learning environment for all students, but this is particularly important to those who have a dislike of learning or low self-esteem.
I have taught KS1 and KS2 classes both in special needs’ schools and non-specialist schools. My current school ranges in age from Year R to Year 11 and so I have several years of experience teaching classes in numeracy, literacy and RS in KS1 and KS2. In addition I work one to one with Ks1 and KS2 pupils who have a variety of SEN and support them to make greater progress than a classroom setting has allowed. My KS1 and KS2 support has included boosting confidence, pre-teaching the next year’s curriculum, and reinforcing the previous year’s learning, in order to make for a smoother transition and less anxious young person.
My experience working with students with dyscalculia: I have a SpLD accreditation (Dyscalculia, Dyslexia and ADHD) and have worked with many students with a diagnosis of dyscalculia in both school and one to one settings. Often high levels of anxiety accompany a young person with dyscalculia, especially around maths and memory. I make relieving and reducing anxiety a key component of my lessons, focussing on encouragement and confidence building. Depending on the age and interests of each student I employ techniques and activities such as rhymes, maths games, revision and flash cards, breaking down tasks into bite size chunks, making tasks visual, lots of repetition, and of course by making learning engaging and fun.
My skills and experience teaching children with speech and language delay/ disorder:
I have taught children with a variety of difficulties with speech and language delay. Some have men non-verbal, others with little speech and some with great vocabulary but who struggle with clear pronunciation and therefore communication. My method is always to create a comfortable and engaging atmosphere in order to build confidence and a good rapport primarily. This way students tend to relax and feel more able to communicate. Depending on the individual students level and ability we often begin with either games or talking about topics or their interest to encourage speech and assess their needs. From there lessons can be tailored to fit the individual student’s interests and ability. I have found the use of colourful semantics and other visual aids useful with speech and language delay as well as songs and rhymes. I find that each student has their own magic door to unlocking their learning and finding out what it is, is an important first step in my helping them to progress.
My experience of supporting children and young people with mental health needs:
My experience of helping individual students transition to the UK curriculum: I have worked in my current school for six years. As a boring school we have a high percentage of international students and part of my role is to support these students in becoming accustomed to, and making a smooth transition to our UK curriculum. This includes accessing the differences between previous learning and that required in the new placement, as well as offering pastoral to emotionally support the student, and academic support to aid help fill in any gaps in knowledge and understanding. My experience as an EAL teacher also means I am competent in facilitating subject specific programs to help students to access more specialised subjects in a second language. I have found that with the right support students make such a transition comfortably and their confidence consistently grows.
In addition to the experience outlined above in supporting young people with extreme anxiety, I also have supported many young people with a variety of other mental health needs. I have counselled young people and helped them to open up and talk through their feelings, and this has been very effective in allowing young people to begin to understand their emotions and linked behaviours, so that they can begin to challenge and improve them. I have a level 2 and level 3 qualification in Counselling and have found my education in SEN, and commonly linked mental health difficulties, a great help when tutoring academic subjects because often mental health needs act as a barrier to learning and need to be addressed first. Mental health difficulties that I have supported young people with are extreme anxiety, OCD, depression (which often leads to a lack of motivation or feeling of purpose), suicidal thoughts, Tourette’s linked mental health difficulties and self harm. Building a rapport with the young person is crucial because too often people with mental health difficulties report feeling uncomfortable when being asked to open up to someone they don’t really know. Therefore, I always work at the student’s pace, and allow them to open up when they feel ready, through partaking in activities and discussions linked to their subjects of interest, rather than direct questioning.
My experience working with young people who struggle with organisation, presentation and study skills:
Many SEN such as ADD, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, ASD and Global Delay, mean that organisation, planning and preparation is a big difficulty and cause of anxiety. Incorporating activities into lessons that practice gross and fine motor skills has significantly helped my students to improve their handwriting and presentation. I have successfully supported primary and junior school aged children in improving their organisational skills through using a variety of graphic organiser templates to improve their confidence and independence when planning written work. I have successfully helped several students who have struggled with organising their workload, giving in homework on time and keeping on top of their workload to feel more in control of their set work and assignments. Teaching independence in this area is as important as assisting students to organise their own work when anxiety levels rise too high for them to do it themselves. Just the knowledge that I am there to support and help them is often enough to reduce their anxiety and less anxiety always produces greater student progress. I have supported several students with organisation and planning who have been GCSE, A level and Degree students, when the need for good organisation and discipline becomes even greater.
My experience working with students with comprehension and reasoning challenges:
For young people who struggle with comprehension and reasoning skills I have found that reducing the amount of written work and focussing on verbal responses is the most effective approach. Through sorting activities, patterns, pictures, short stories and dilemmas I encourage and support young people in explaining reasons for why they think what they do, or why they have chosen what they have chosen. Sometimes this is based on an abstract subject and sometimes it requires a more logical line of reasoning. I have found that repetition of using these skills is key to achieving fluidity in their use independently.
My specific experience of working with young people who have Down Syndrome:
I have taught and supported children with Down syndrome both in a special school setting and mainstream schools. Difficulties with fine and gross motor skills and speech and language delay are common and I employ the techniques and approaches outlined above to help each young person make progress. I also spend time working on pronunciation if speech is not clear. In addition, I have found that when working with young people who have Down Syndrome it is paramount that the lessons are chunked to maintain focus, are varied to increase motivation and are constantly building the young person's confidence and self-esteem.
My experience working with students with auditory processing disorders:
I have found that for young people with auditory processing disorders (including my own daughter) that the use of visual aids and repetition has increased their academic and organisational progress. By creating a calm learning environment, where the anxiety of auditory input it reduced, allows the young person to enjoy and engage in learning. Memory exercises through games and activities all provide a repetitive and but fun way to help the young person to learn helpful techniques such as 'chunking', and to build their confidence.
My experience working with EAL students:
I am also a qualified EAL teacher and over the last ten years have spent considerable time teaching English as a Foreign Language. This has also been to a variety of ages and levels from beginner to IELTS exam lessons for University entrance.
Support completing assignments, academic and critical writing for University and HE students:
I completed my MA a few years ago (in Autism and Aspergers Education). I am currently completing my Doctorate (also in SEN). I am well versed in what is expected when completing academic writing and assignments at A-level, degree and Masters level. Whilst the subject might vary, I am very able to offer constructive support and guidance with planning, organising and writing academic assignments. I can read and give feedback on draft work and help to organise and structure essays from the planning stage. Many students have found that having a fellow academic to bounce thoughts and ideas off of makes critical and academic writing a more fluid and less onerous task. My method of support is to work to the requirements of each student. This could be providing feedback on plans, draft essays, helping with referencing, organising initial ideas and talking through the essay plan. Feedback is always questioning rather than negative, and the aim is to help each student progress and therefore to write in the appropriate style and at the required academic level for their qualification. I have found that encouragement is as important at this level as constructive feedback.
My experience of working with students who have epilepsy:
I have worked with several children over the years who have epilepsy. Epilepsy can affect different people in different ways and therefore also affect their learning in different ways too. I make it a priority to find out how each individual is affected by their epilepsy and also how their learning has been impacted by it. From that point I can plan lessons around gaps in knowledge and understanding. Also it is important as a teacher for me to be aware of any medications that the student might be on and its affect on the student. Aside from this understanding potential triggers for seizures is paramount. For some tis may be the use of computers, lights, or certain patterns. Knowing what to do if someone has a seizure has also been an important part of my in school training. This has included learning about different types of seizures, how each might affect someone, how recovery might differ, and how to keep someone safe during and after a seizure. My own son has absence epilepsy and I have taught many pupils in a school setting with epilepsy, and have been aware of the extra precautions needed to ensure their safety in the event of a seizure.
Above all I believe building a rapport with each student is key for a successful learning. Therefore, I take time to get to know each child and try to incorporate their topics of interest into lessons where possible.