Therapy at Jennings Street School is integrated into our educational model. We focus on providing the best intervention for students with autism across the areas of the Victorian Curriculum such as Personal and Social learning, Health, and English. We work closely in the classrooms with teachers and Education Support staff to deliver intervention to our students. This means we consult with teachers to improve their practice, work alongside teachers to deliver the teaching program, and sometimes work directly with students in small groups.
Much of the work of the allied health consultation is specifically about the differentiation of education for individuals with autism. Each section of the school has a full-time Occupational Therapist and a full-time Speech Pathologist. We have a Psychologist 3 days a week working closely with the wellbeing team to provide intervention for our most at-risk students.
The therapists provide consultation and intervention to address the needs of individuals with autism in areas such as communication, social and emotional regulation, and literacy. We also address student needs in eating, drinking, and personal hygiene and development. In the senior years, we help to plan for students’ pathways post-school.
The speech pathology team at JSS works closely with classroom staff to improve student outcomes in the areas of speaking and listening, reading and writing, personal and social skills, and eating and drinking. We provide coaching and demonstration to teachers and education support staff on how to communicate effectively with students and how to provide quality language learning experiences to students who are learning to use Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) systems.
AAC - The speech pathology team leads the assessment and prescription of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) systems and supports for our students. We use a range of AAC supports at JSS, including speech generating devices, Key Word Sign, communication boards, and single visuals. We help teachers to tailor their lessons for students with complex communication needs by embedding AAC to support their receptive and expressive language. We offer regular information sessions for families who are new to using AAC, as well as pre-recorded training videos which families can access online.
Literacy - We collaborate with classroom teachers and school leadership to embed the most up to date and evidence-based literacy practices into our school, taking a systematic synthetic phonics approach to instruction. We consult with teachers to address students’ specific literacy needs and undertake additional literacy assessments where required, in order to provide tailored intervention strategies. We support the school to deliver high quality professional learning opportunities to staff based on the best available literacy research.
Eating & Drinking - The speech pathologists at JSS are involved in supporting safer eating, drinking, and participation of students at meal times. Speech pathologists have expert knowledge of the muscles in the mouth, tongue and neck, and are best placed to undertake assessment and provide recommendations for students who may have difficulty with swallowing safely when eating and drinking. The speech pathologists also have a role in supporting students to eat and drink in a more organised way during mealtimes and provide recommendations on mealtime aids (including communication supports or alternative cutlery and equipment).
Liaison - The speech pathologist at JSS also has a role in liaising with external health professionals, including speech pathologists, paediatricians and psychologists. We collaborate and coordinate support to promote student outcomes.
At Jennings Street School the occupational therapists use functional and meaningful activities (occupations) to help students participate in school-based activities. The occupational therapists work alongside teachers and other therapists to increase students’ engagement and participation in the classroom and across the school.
In the classroom, the occupational therapists are frequently helping students with their fine motor skills, including handwriting, and implementing gross motor programs. We support the students’ sensory and emotional regulation through programs such as the Zones of Regulation. The occupational therapists guide the use of Tier One supports including visuals, schedules and the use of breaks. The occupational therapists work with teachers to set up different programs and groups across the school.
Along with the speech pathologists, we facilitate programs such as social skills groups, play groups including pretend play and relationship based play. We also assist individual students with their self care needs such as toileting and hygiene management. The occupational therapists work in consultation with other school staff to develop individualised plans to increase students’ independence.
We develop programs for our students to access the community safely and build up their skills in community access. The occupational therapists support the students at their school swimming program, promoting independence in tasks such as transitioning to the swimming pool and dressing.
In the Later Years section the occupational therapist supports students to prepare for their pathway transitions through a number of programs focused on building functional life skills including community access, travel training, breakfast club, career lessons, cafe and canteen programs.
Music therapy is a research-based practice and profession in which music is used to actively support people as they strive to improve their health, functioning and wellbeing.
Music therapy is the intentional use of music by a university trained professional who is registered with the Australian Music Therapy Association Inc. Registered music therapists draw on an extensive body of research and are bound by a code of ethics that informs their practice.
Music therapists incorporate a range of music making methods within and through a therapeutic relationship. They are employed in a variety of sectors including health, community, aged care, disability, early childhood, and private practice. Music therapy is different from music education and entertainment as it focuses on health, functioning and wellbeing.
Music therapists are committed to supporting people of any age and ability regardless of musical skill, culture or background. https://www.austmta.org.au/content/what-music-therapy
Music Therapy Techniques
At Jennings Street School, the psychologist works together with staff, students and their families to provide support in relation to wellbeing. The focus of psychology at Jennings Street School is on supporting the mental health, development, learning and behaviour of children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Student focused psychological services may involve individual therapy and counselling, classroom observations, psychological assessment, and behaviour support and intervention. Psychology involvement in behaviour support at Jennings Street is focused on trying to understand student behaviour, what they may be trying to communicate and the underlying function of their behaviour. We do this through assessment of behavioural concerns, data collection, and the development of evidence based strategies to communicate effectively with students, set up a successful learning environment, teach students new skills, and reinforce appropriate and pro-social behaviour.The behaviour management and response strategies used at JSS are underpinned by a positive behaviour support framework.
Communication and consultancy is also a central role of the psychologist. Liaising with teachers, allied health staff and external agencies ensures the most appropriate and effective support is provided for our students. Furthermore, communication with families is important for the psychologist to connect school with the home context. The psychologist also supports the Department of Education and Training’s Program for Students with Disabilities coordination.
The psychologist is a member of the Wellbeing Team, who meet weekly to discuss any wellbeing concerns raised within our school community, and the Allied Health Team, made up of all allied health professionals within the school.