Daily Archives: July 4, 2017

During my recent visit to the hospital school at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), the Special Education Needs (SEN) arm of the hospital asked for my feedback on the service. You see, my son Otito was admitted there for one year as many of you who have followed the website have been aware of. It was a service that made an absolute difference to him. He loved school and was very fond of all his teachers. They were absolutely brilliant. Looking back, I can only be grateful for their input because they not only gave him the best time in the final days of his life, but also the rest of the family. They asked me to highlight areas where they did badly but sincerely, I could not find any. All I could suggest as I took the trip down memory lane were areas that could be improved on. Since many of the readers on the website have sick children, some in GOSH and others elsewhere, I thought that it would be a lovely idea to share the feedback here. The objective, in addition to leaving this feedback, is to also add to the visibility that I propose at the end of the article. I hope you all find it useful and also gain confidence in using this service in whichever hospital your child is in especially if they have special education needs. So let us start with the good bits. What worked Child-led interaction: The school program was centred around my child. I thought that the fact that he was allowed to dictate the pace and direction that the activities made him feel in control. This method respected and acknowledged not only the needs of the child but gave him dignity. It saw him as a human being and not just as a statistic that needed to be ticked off the box. The result was a boost in his confidence because he felt more able to flourish in his own peculiar way without being pushed beyond his abilities. Advantages: Increased confidence: Otito was given choices of activities to choose from each time. By selecting an activity he felt in control of the space and that made him feel like he took part in deciding what he wanted. The child led approach helped the teachers decide the pace and speed that the session should go by not being pushy and overbearing in delivering the session. It helped the teachers stay in control of the plan and intended outcome for the session This in my opinion, fuelled his confidence and modelled good behaviour to him. Building trust: it helped him build trust for his teachers. Children like Otito with special educational needs- SEN are accustomed to being interrupted for interventions as a result of the complex health needs. This means that they become very protective of their own space. The child led interaction helps reassure them that their opinions are acknowledged during the learning time. This helps them build trust towards the teachers that allow them to learn. For a child like Otito whose complex health needs challenged the teachers, it was a relief for him to be able to take sessions slowly on gloomy days and enjoy more fast-paced sessions on perkier days. I remember times when Otito became unwell during sessions and the teachers tactfully ended the session. For Otito his response was usually a mixture of dismay and relief. It made learning fun: The child centred approach really made learning fun for my child. It helped him look forward to teaching sessions. The fact that he was kept at the heart of the flow of the lesson meant that the whole experience becomes less of an ordeal. The child led interaction helped his teachers become more sensitive and empathetic towards him. They were more able to identify cues and behaviours that show engagement, distraction or disengagement during the learning time. As a result of this, they formed a bond with Otito. This helped to further improve the teaching and learning experience for both teacher and student. Tailored teaching: It was very encouraging and reassuring to see that at GOSH the teaching plans tailored towards the needs of my child. How? Initial sessions were used to assess his peculiar needs before determining the particular equipment or tools that were best suited for him. The assessment also acknowledged feedback from us- the main carers, about his particular likes or dislikes. There was a lot of observation of my child during play to help the teachers familiarise themselves with him. In my opinion, this helped them gain a sense of what would or wouldn’t work with Otito. This method of teaching struck a chord with me as I felt that Otito was respected and dignified throughout the process. It allowed his perculiarities to be taking into consideration during the process of planning, preparing and executing teaching sessions Engagement: By mirroring Otito’s preferences with their choice of tools for teaching him, they were able to tailor the teaching sessions to suit him every time. Engaging him in this way not only kept him interested for longer, but gave the teachers the chance to keep steering him towards more complicated outcomes. It gave him the chance to excel at tasks we believed were impossible. For example by using light up toys, giggly balls, cause and effect toys and sensory toys each time, his eye contact went from non-existent to fleeting and then to being held for a few minutes. He was also able to be taught turn taking – something that was initially met with a complete meltdown. He also learned to make choices using picture cards of his favourite toys. For this he went from choosing by looking in the direction of the cards he preferred to fleetingly motioning towards his preferences. Timing: I thought that the graduated timing style worked perfectly. When the teachers first began teaching Otito, the sessions were shorter until they were gradually built up to the target […]

Using the Hospital School- GOSH SEN Team – In memory of Otito.