We have been working for several years with youngsters with general moderate learning difficulties. Difficulties in being included in mainstream schools in peer relations often isolated these youngsters from the rest of the group and acted as a barrier. We focused on developing various activities, together with the class teacher, to address the complex issues of relationships and their development.
Ursula worked with adolescents at a special school in London from 1986 onwards to explore ways of helping youngsters learn how to understand others, how to make friends and how to behave in a group of people in various settings.
Fiona, starting in 1995, continued running groups in the same school. The school requested these regular group sessions, and parents and students could see their benefit. Later Fiona worked with Dagmar Fabri, a clinical psychologist, adapting the group sessions to social skills training for young people with Asperger's Syndrome. At the end of the programme, some students were able to manage social situations better and were integrated into mainstream schools, while others felt more comfortable with their peers, and some dared to go shopping by themselves. All had fun and enjoyed coming to the group sessions.
The early work by Ursula was videoed and shared with the students as feedback and reinforcement. The sessions were based on a multi-sensory cognitive-behavioural approach that worked well in terms of improvement in students' behaviour in and out of class.
The success of these training programmes has been recognized by schools and participants but remains anecdotal. A more scientific evaluation of our work with students with general moderate learning difficulties is currently beyond the scope of our interventions.
The training described in this book is based on this success. It offers pre- and post- intervention evaluation schedules, interview and observation tools and specification of material such as tapes, in addition to ten detailed session plans that can be used and adapted by teachers to suit the special needs of their students.