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      The sensory school: working with teachers, parents and pupils to create good sensory conditions

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          Abstract

          Purpose

          An alliance of schools and researchers formed a collaborative community of practice in order to understand and improve the sensory school environment for pupils on the autistic spectrum, and incorporate the findings into school improvement planning. The paper aims to discuss this issue.

          Design/methodology/approach

          Representatives of special and mainstream schools in South London and a team of researchers formed the project team, including an autistic researcher. The researchers and a named staff member from each of the schools met regularly over the course of 18 months in order to work on an iterative process to improve the sensory experience pupils had of the school environment. Each school completed sensory audits and observations, and was visited by members of the research team. Parents were involved via meetings with the research team and two conferences were organised to share findings.

          Findings

          Useful outcomes included: developing and sharing of good practice between schools; opportunities for parents of autistic pupils to discuss their concerns, particularly with someone with insider perspective; and exploration of creative ways to achieve pupil involvement and the idea that good autism practice has the potential to benefit all pupils. A resource pack was produced for the schools to access. Plans are in place to revisit the initiative in 12 months’ time in order to ascertain whether there have been long-term benefits.

          Originality/value

          Projects building communities of practice involving autistic people as core team members are rare, yet feedback from those involved in the project showed this to be a key aspect of shared learning.

          Related collections

          Most cited references 18

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          Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

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            Community-based participatory research contributions to intervention research: the intersection of science and practice to improve health equity.

            Community-based participatory research (CBPR) has emerged in the last decades as a transformative research paradigm that bridges the gap between science and practice through community engagement and social action to increase health equity. CBPR expands the potential for the translational sciences to develop, implement, and disseminate effective interventions across diverse communities through strategies to redress power imbalances; facilitate mutual benefit among community and academic partners; and promote reciprocal knowledge translation, incorporating community theories into the research. We identify the barriers and challenges within the intervention and implementation sciences, discuss how CBPR can address these challenges, provide an illustrative research example, and discuss next steps to advance the translational science of CBPR.
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              A theory of human motivation.

               A. MASLOW (1943)
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                AIA
                10.1108/AIA
                Advances in Autism
                AIA
                Emerald Publishing
                2056-3868
                21 March 2019
                : 5
                Issue : 2 Issue title : Inclusive educational practice for autistic learners Issue title : Inclusive educational practice
                : 131-140
                Affiliations
                Department of Education, London South Bank University , London, UK
                London South Bank University , London, UK
                Merton Special Teaching Alliance, London, UK
                Author notes
                Nicola Martin can be contacted at: martinn4@lsbu.ac.uk
                Article
                625514 AIA-09-2018-0034.pdf AIA-09-2018-0034
                10.1108/AIA-09-2018-0034
                © Emerald Publishing Limited
                Page count
                Figures: 0, Tables: 0, Equations: 0, References: 37, Pages: 10, Words: 0
                Product
                Categories
                case-report, Case study
                cat-HSC, Health & social care
                Custom metadata
                no
                yes
                JOURNAL
                included

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