A PIONEERING communication board has been installed at St Andrew’s Primary School in Shottery for youngsters with language challenges.
The board, set up in the school’s playground, gives children a range of symbols and visual cues they can use to express themselves without the spoken word.
It is accompanied by a set of portable language keys which are being used in the classroom at St Andrew’s.
The aim is to begin a new chapter in the way primary-aged children – particularly those who are non-verbal or face other language barriers – communicate with their teachers and peers.
Autism affects one in 100 people, with an estimated 30 per cent of children diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) being non-verbal or minimally verbal.
The board and keys have been developed by Kickstart Signs to support those children, as well as youngsters who face other verbal challenges or are new to the English language.
Headteacher Louise Withers said: “The board has generated an awful lot of interest in the playground, with the children gravitating towards it and generating their own games.
“In the classroom, one child, with a diagnosis of autism and ASD, is using the language key to help express how he is feeling in different situations throughout the day. The symbols provide visual information, which is particularly important for reducing anxiety in autistic children as predicting what will or could happen can be very challenging, even in a familiar setting.
“The child has made the connection between the language key and the board and is able to point to different commands to communicate with peers and adults on the playground too.”