Something that sets the Holmewood School London (THSL) apart is our fully integrated therapy provision. Our on-site Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) is made up of Speech and Language Therapy (SaLT), Occupational Therapy (OT) and Psychodynamic Therapy.
The MDT meets fortnightly to discuss needs of the whole school, class groups and individuals. This approach ensures that each student is understood and supported holistically and contextually.
SaLT and OT oversee a whole school, fully embedded approach to supporting students’ communication and interaction, social and emotional wellbeing, sensory integration and learning. A consistent focus is on autism understanding, self-acceptance and self-advocacy. The Psychodynamic Team works ‘behind the scenes’ to complement this.
School staff benefit from the expertise of this joined up approach. Therapists provide training, advice, consultation and individual support to all staff and regularly attend class team meetings and collaborate with the Senior Leadership Team (SLT). Reflective practice is integral to our model of working.
Students are offered a tailored therapeutic pathway, depending on their needs at any given time. These are assessed and reviewed on an ongoing basis to reflect progress, and reported on regularly. We are confident in our ability to meet the specific and complex needs of every student. Our offer usually exceeds the provision stated on the Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), however our specialist model of teaching, small nurturing classes and embedded therapy will mean that these needs are met in a different way to other provisions.
We are really proud of the proactive and responsive way we support families. The journey to Holmewood is often a challenging one and we provide advice, strategies and support through individual sessions and parent groups.
The Holmewood School vision is to create ambitious learners, ready to lead confident, independent and happy lives. The Therapy Team is committed to supporting this.
Our SaLT provision is forward thinking and embraces the current Neurodiversity movement. Our Lead SaLT is Chair of the SaLT London Autism Clinical Excellence Network, ensuring that we continually evaluate our autism practice and provide support in line with current evidence based approaches.
Supporting students to fulfil their communicative potential, understand their own communication profile and develop confidence and self-esteem so they enjoy interactions with different people.
Facilitating students and staff to learn about autism and neurodiversity and specifically, what autism means to that student. Giving our young people the tools to speak about autism so that they can self-advocate beyond school.
Developing our students’ ability to understand and regulate their emotions and work these out alongside physical feelings, so that they have the tools to manage their own responses to situations or stimuli.
To develop students’ resilience; to help them make and celebrate mistakes, manage perfectionism and find their own unique coping strategies.
Enabling students to access the curriculum, learn and make academic progress, through targeted language work, alongside developing the students’ insight into their own learning profile so they can use specific strategies to support learning and recall.
Promoting social communication skills and developing a positive and accepting total communication environment within school.
Developing staff understanding and application of effective communication and teaching strategies for a range of neurodiverse learning styles.
Our approach is based on the principle that students’ communication skills are best developed through interaction with the people who are most familiar to them, in everyday situations.
Through ongoing formal and informal assessment and observation, the SaLT evaluates our students’ ability to regulate and manage challenges, their social understanding and social problem solving, play and imagination, speech, language, written work, attention and focus, memory, learning ability, self esteem, and autism knowledge and understanding for self advocacy.
Support is led by our students’ aspirations and goals alongside information provided by parents, teaching staff and the MDT and could include work on confidence and combating social anxiety, friendships, relationships, understanding emotions, anger management, autism, specific subject work (e.g. Science vocabulary or inferencing in English).
Our Lead SaLT has also trained in using Solution Focused Brief Therapy and uses the tools inherent in this approach alongside other frameworks for support. This focuses on strengths, the student as expert on themself, and (without detracting from some of the challenges faced by autistic people) supports our students to think positively about their coping mechanisms and how they want their future to look.
OT at the Holmewood School focuses on helping young people develop the skills necessary to perform activities of daily living, participate in social activities, and achieve academic success. Our OT Team is committed to providing individualised support to our students.
Our OT input covers a wide range of areas:
Fine motor skills
Gross motor skills
Visual motor integration
Eating and feeding issues
Activities of daily living
Functional life skills
Attention and focus
We use a student-centred approach that is focused on meeting the unique needs and interests of our students. We work hard to gather information from parents and caregivers to ensure that we have a collaborative approach. We provide advice, guidance and resources to parents to support students at school and home.
The OT process involves: gathering important information, conducting a comprehensive assessment, developing a personalised intervention plan, implementing the plan, reviewing the effectiveness of the intervention, and reassessing the student's progress. By following this thorough and structured process, we can ensure that our students receive the highest level of care and support possible.
We use both standardised and non-standardised assessments to assess students. Standardised assessments provide a normative score for comparing a student's performance with their peers, while non-standardized assessments give qualitative information about the student's strengths, weaknesses, and functional abilities. Using both types of assessments helps in developing appropriate interventions and supports for addressing the student's needs.
The Holmewood School uses a tiered system to provide appropriate levels of OT input to its students. The interventions provided include sensory circuits, handwriting groups, individualised OT programs, and structured therapies such as systematic desensitisation. The goal of the OT program is to ensure that students receive individualised and student-motivated support to reach their full potential.
We utilise both top-down and bottom-up approaches to ensure our approach is centred on the student and their needs, motivating them to achieve success. We take into account each student's unique strengths and challenges to provide personalised, client-centred support that promotes achievement. The OT Team is dedicated to providing comprehensive support for our students, helping them overcome challenges and achieve success in all areas of school life and for their future.
Psychodynamic therapy is a confidential provision that connects with the pre-verbal aspects of the psyche, often focusing on and exploring the early years of life. It understands mental health not only from a conscious perspective but addresses internalised unconscious inhibitions that can interfere with a satisfactory experience of life and a general sense of well being. This is important for the autistic young person who may find it difficult to separate and become independent.
The therapy does not focus on the behaviour of the young person, but rather on understanding and working through any difficulties they may experience which might lead to behaviours that could be both upsetting to them and to others. The work is not necessarily in what they say but what is communicated unconsciously through the therapeutic relationship. Working within the emotional world of the young person can lead to inner and outer change; particularly in the ways they relate to others and experience themselves. It also supports the facilitation of their growth and autonomy.
The young person may be seen for one or several sessions per week for an extended period of time. This gives them an opportunity to explore what their troubles are about and gradually to discover a freedom to tackle them in alternative ways.