Low Arousal Environment
Queensmill School is purpose-built with consideration of the needs of students with Autism. Providing our students with a low arousal environment gives them the greatest possible chance to remain calm, understand their environment and reach their learning potential.
In accordance with National Autistic Society recommendations, as part of the low arousal philosophy at Queensmill, we provide:
- A school painted in low arousal colours with minimal unnecessary visual distractions in corridors, communal areas and learning spaces;
- The use of screens to separate working areas in classrooms to reduce both visual and auditory distractions;
- Non-flourescent lighting and maximised use of natural light which is filtered to reduce glare and brightness;
- Reduced noise. There is no school bell. Walls, floors and ceilings absorb sounds so noise does not travel and there is no echo along corridors;
- Calm, quiet spaces within classrooms and around the school are available for students to access breaks;
- Low arousal behaviour from staff who all understand autism – calm, quiet voices for example, and non-confrontational conflict resolution;
- Learning materials and information presented in a clear and structured way.
It is of course important that individuals with Autism are exposed to a wide range of sensory experiences and environments to support desensitisation and develop their tolerance of community settings however this should be done in a supportive and graded way. Queensmill School has a range of multi-sensory therapy spaces where sensory stimulation can be manipulated and controlled to suit individual needs and promote engagement in learning.
For those students who are able to tolerate and learn in a more stimulating environment, they can be exposed to this as appropriate through community visits and opportunities for inclusion. At this point, we may also consider whether they are able to manage a mainstream school setting.
Classrooms and staff within our units in mainstream schools also follow low arousal principals and have sound absorbent materials added where possible to reduce noise levels.