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About The Integrated Resource Employment

The Integrated Resource is split into two. There is The Integrated Resource based in King Ecgbert School which supports pupils with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) from year 7 to 13, and there is The Supported Employment Project (SEP) based in Meadowhall Shopping Centre which supports young people with ASDs in the workplace.

Background Information

The Resource at King Ecgbert School was established in September 1994. The Resource offers educational opportunities for secondary aged pupils who have severe communication disorders or difficulties, and difficulties with language. It is a 20 place unit with a high staffing ratio.

The Charity

The Resource is not part of an organisation, (Such as The National Autistic Society) that helps to raise money on its behalf. Our staffing costs are paid for by the Local Education Authority. Our heating. lighting and cleaning costs are kindly paid by King Ecgbert School. We receive no money for equipment. While we work hard to raise the profile of pupils in The Resource, we also have to raise the money we need to buy equipment in order to deliver the curriculum that the pupils in The Resource deserve.

For this reason, The Resource become a registered charity in 1998. The specific aim of the Charity is to raise the profile of autistic people, especially with employers. Employers often have little or no experience of the tremendous benefits that could be gained by employing an adult with autism. There are not enough supported employment places provided by national government. Currently our charity is providing regular support for young adults working at Meadowhall Shopping Centre (see Supported Employment). The charity now has to find a regular source of income to finance these growing employment costs.

Aims of The Resource

The main aim of the resource is to advance and further the therapeutic education of young people with communication disorders in conjunction with mainstream provision.

For the young people in The Resource, the aim is to offer a high level of experienced support so that each pupil can take advantage of the school community and activities as far as s/he feels able to do.

The aim of this high level of support is so that each individual can work towards a more in dependant life, acquire a degree of autonomy and self-respect, and learn to relate to others.

What is a Communication Disorder

There are a number of different kinds of communication disorders, but perhaps the one most people will have heard of (probably through the films Rain Man and Mercury Rising) is Autism or Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Several of the other communication disorders have closely allied difficulties to autism. Autism was only discovered in 1943 by Leo Kanner. We now talk of a "Spectrum of Autistic Disorders" which helps us to understand the wide range of behaviours and difficulties that seem to be autistic-like. there seem to be three main difficulties characterising autism:

  1. Difficulties with language and other ways of communicating, including gesture and facial expression. Many people with autism do not speak, and others show echolalia which is the repeating of what has just been said.
    "I have difficulties in understanding what people say and mean. I get confused."
  2. Difficulties with social relationships, and often a failure to understand how others are feeling or what they are thinking. This can be extremely debilitating. It can be a cause of great distress to families when emotional relationships do not develop. Many people with autism avoid social interaction or are ambivalent about it.
    "I'm not sure how to make friends."
  3. Evidence of rigidity and inflexibility of thought processes, which can lead to compulsive/obsessive behaviour and resistance to change. Many people with autism have real fears about daily routines being upset or rituals being discouraged.
    "I spend a large amount of time being frightened of people."
    "I get words mixed up. People talk so fast."

Pupils in The Resource

We feel that pupils in The Resource who experience difficulties with communication should have as much access as they feel comfortable with to their mainstream peers and the mainstream environment. Here they will be in contact with good models of communication and language and will learn from these. The pupils in The Resource are making good progress in coping with some of the social situations they used to find extremely difficult. Some of the pupils obtain a high degree of independence in lessons and during social times at school. The number of lessons each pupil has in The Resource is kept to a minimum so as not to disrupt their mainstream timetable too much. However, this varies according to individual needs and is flexible to suit the changing needs of our pupils as they tackle the difficulties of puberty on to of everything else!

The Curriculum

Access to a broad and balanced curriculum through the mainstream school is the mainstay of delivery. Integration into classes varies from 60% of the week to over 80%. The Resource is pupil centred and aims to maximise each young person's potential for participating in mainstream school.

However, the mainstream curriculum is not enough for the young people in The Resource. During lessons in The Resource the curriculum covers a wide range of skills that a mainstream pupil may not have to be taught directly. For pupils in The Resource these skills need direct teaching and counseling.

These will include:

  1. Life skills, such as road safety, use of the telephone, shopping skills, opening accounts, making appointments, using public transport, skills needed in the work place and finding your way around the local community.
  2. Relating to other people and trying to understand their ideas and opinions.
  3. Recognising your own strengths and weaknesses. Much time is spent celebrating success and working to improve weaker areas.
  4. How to make choices. How to make plans, stick to them and then to learn from our experiences.
  5. How to express our own feelings and opinions, and how to get our needs met whilst realising and respecting the fact that other people will have their own needs, which may be different from our ours.

Integration into Employment

Our older students enjoy the benefits of working for various employers, such as Sainsburys, Norwich Union and Vernons the Bakers. These employers all report that the students they have are doing a tremendous job, and have specific skills and strengths that are useful in the employment place. We need more employers to offer places of employment. Support is given by experienced staff to ensure the placement is successful for all concerned.

Currently, adults with autism in Sheffield have an unemployment rate of 96%. There is no reason for this given the qualities and strengths that our students possess. Employers who become involved with The Resource, whether through offering placements or equally important, financial assistance, will be playing a vital role in enhancing the life opportunities for a group of very special people.

Given success in reducing this high unemployment rate, publicity will follow, as will European funding. The possibility of become an educational "Centre of Excellence" is high. The benefits to the business community of being involved with The Resource are clear.

Due to this high unemployment rate, The Resource Charity has branched out into the employment sector at Meadowhall shopping centre. we now have a number of staff supporting numerous individuals (all with an ASD) who have secured employment there. (see our Supported Employment page.)

And Finally ...

The parents, staff and pupils at The Resource are very aware of the ways in which King Ecgbert students, staff and governors have created a positive learning and community environment for the pupils in the unit. If you would like further details of our work, or feel you can offer help of any kind, please contact us!