We are unique because we lead the way in maximising a young person’s education whilst managing very complex health issues in an holistic manner. We have been dealing with complex medical needs for over a century and have been managing Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC) for more than 50 years. We offer young people a multidisciplinary approach that addresses the issues associated with ASC as well as managing their epilepsy. This is part of the unique opportunity students with ASC and epilepsy experience at St Piers School.
Staff manage pupils' behaviour exceptionally well. Procedures to manage behaviour are used consistently. Consequently, all pupils, including pupils on the autistic spectrum and pupils with severe learning difficulties and pupils who join the school at unusual times, behave well”
St Piers School OFSTED Inspection
ASC with epilepsy presents unique challenges for young people in their learning and life skills. Unfortunately, for a child with ASC, the impact of having epilepsy compounds already challenging issues.
Our staff recognise the impact that each diagnosis has on the other and the complex interplay between them. Seizures can affect mood, behaviour and the engagement and focus of the learner and these effects will often be even more profound in a person with ASC. A young person with ASC will often not understand or be able to rationalise their epilepsy and the effects that seizures have on them, leading to anxiety, fear and changes in behaviour.
One of the keys to supporting St Piers’ students with ASC is to manage the epilepsy, in order to maximise the opportunities for students to access the curriculum.
Successful approaches to ASC, include communication aids, e.g. Now and Next, pictorial timetables, structure and mind maps. St Piers School takes an eclectic approach, such as, TEACHH, Intensive Interaction and Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), enabling our students to progress in terms of education, life skills and social interaction.
Anxiety related to epilepsy is common, and we address this through high levels of support and therapy, allowing students the opportunity to build relationships of trust with staff. Young people with ASC often require more time to process information; this has an even more profound effect if they also have epilepsy. Our approach is focussed on supporting students to achieve their maximum potential by presenting information in multiple ways that enables them to process it without experiencing sensory overload.
The particular issues presented with ASC when combined with epilepsy are carefully managed by our staff. With a medical centre on site, we are able to address anxiety related to medical checks and appointments. Staff are also familiar with the students and we regularly use play therapy prior to diagnostics and assessment including phlebotomy and telemetry.
In addition to the world-class education and healthcare services we provide, we are increasingly providing support services nationally. We are also involved in internationally-renowned research and work in partnership with Great Ormond Street Hospital, University College London and King’s College. Having built first rate partnerships in the world of health we are now seeking to develop relationships of a similar high-standing in the world of education.