SPELL and TEACCH
SPELL is an acronym for Structure, Positive, Empathy, Low arousal and Links. The SPELL framework understands and responds to the needs of children and adults who have an autistic condition and recognise the unique needs of each individual to emphasise how planning and intervention shall be organised. This framework can be used with all autistic people regardless of their age and the level of support that is required and works as a complementary approach to other approaches such as TEACCH.
The spell framework consists of:
- Structure: The need for having a structured environment with visual and auditory cues to make the world a predictable and accessible place for the autistic. Having a structure can bring in personal autonomy and independence with a modified environment where people are aware of what might happen here and what is expected of them, this also helps reduce anxiety from the fear of the unknown.
- Positive: Establishing self-confidence and self-esteem by building on natural strengths. Some autistic people are good with communication and some aren’t, some may have the ability to start a conversation but have other difficulties too. So, it's always better to have a wider perspective with regards to opportunities in place and the barriers that may come in the way.
- Empathy: When working with autistic people it is tricky to understand what may help them and what can cause distress. It is important to be aware of both situations when working with autistic people. Making efforts to understand and develop communication with them is the rule of a quality relationship. Supporters must remain calm at all times, empathetic and analytical as well.
- Low arousal: The environment needs to be calm and ordered to reduce anxiety. There should be fewer distractions such as colour, lighting and noise levels. Clear information should be given to individuals. People must be exposed to a wide range of experiences that are arranged in a manner that benefits them and keeps them relaxed. There are relaxation and arousal reduction therapies that might help, music and massage and also multi-sensory rooms may help them remain calm.
- Links: There is a closer link autistic people have with their, family or advocates and so they shall be seen as partners. Recognise the importance and benefits of sharing information with families and other professionals with open links of communication to avoid miscommunication and confusion. Creating links helps maintain a wider support network for the autistic.
Here we consider each of the areas of the SPELL framework and suggest ways you can use them in your classroom.
The word TEACCH stands for Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication handicapped CHildren.
This is a widely used approach within special schools and can be used in a mainstream setting. The approach uses visual support, timetables and schedules to help give structure and improve understanding. Instructions are presented to students at every stage of the activity usually in a visual way to help them understand better. If you are reading this, we'd like to recommend you to do a CPD course on Autism Spectrum Disorder. It'll help you study new concepts and brush up on the existing ones. You can even add this to your resume.
- Teaching: By sharing autism knowledge and helping to increase the overall skill level of professionals.
- Expanding: Increasing their knowledge to be able to provide assistance and high-quality services to autistic people and their families.
- Appreciating: According to the culture of autistic people, it is important to appreciate the uniqueness and strengths of the autistic to maintain a healthy environment.
- Collaborating and Cooperating with other professionals and autistic people to assist at a personal level.
- Holistic: Looking at the condition and situation holistically to adopt a holistic approach within the work environment and the community to address needs and equal opportunities for autistic people.