Boy D, Aged 16

D has a diagnosis of autism. When he was referred to Aran Hall aged 16, he was living by himself and supported by up to three staff. He had not attended school for some time. Prior to D’s admission to Aran Hall in 2004, risk assessments and management programs were developed for physical aggression, absconding, disruptive behaviour, sexualised behaviours, and unsafe behaviour whilst commuting and in the community. D came to Aran Hall School taking the medications Chlorpromazine and Lorazepam to help control his aggressive and disruptive behaviours. These were discontinued in October 2005 and there was a notable increase in these behaviours during November 2005.

D joined the Post-16 class and was initially taught in a room separate from the main classroom because of the level of challenge he presented to both his peers and staff. Spitting was a particularly frequent behaviour that was limiting his opportunities to access the post-16 curriculum.

During this time he required continuous staff attention and an activity change every fifteen minutes. Professor Charles Mace (Clinical Psychologist, University of Maine) carried out a functional behavioural assessment to identify the environmental events that co-vary with D’s challenging behaviour. He was found to be very sensitive to restrictions on his access to preferred activities and to staffs’ attention being diverted away from him.

Evidence-based programmes were put in place that, along with the positive relationships he has with preferred staff, have led to improvements in his behaviour. He is now more amenable to guidance from staff and to being distracted and re-directed to planned activities. Although his challenging behaviour remains a problem, especially when he cannot immediately access his preferred activities, they have reduced in both frequency and severity.

With the support of staff, D has passed two modules of the ASDAN Transition Challenge and his certificates will be presented to him at the local Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) stables in July. Several items of his work have been used in a display at Woburn Abbey that was admired by Princess Anne. ASDAN and the Riding for the Disabled Association have made a DVD and PowerPoint presentation about the pilot scheme that is to be used to promote both organisations.

D is now concentrating on developing his social and community living skills through visits to shops, cafes, restaurants and numerous other community settings. He has learnt new skills such as handling money, and now rarely leaves a shop without voluntarily going to the till to pay for his shopping. His behaviour in the community is generally good, but there have been occasional episodes of severely aggressive behaviour when he was not allowed access to preferred activities, for example, fairgrounds, that he was passing in a car.

His schedule of home visits has gone well and his parents report that they have been able to access the community safely. His parents have recognised the progress D has made and have been complimentary about the hard work done by staff at Aran Hall School.

Aran Hall School, Rhydymain, Nr Dolgellau, Gwynedd LL40 2AR
T: 01341 450641