BERIS is Heathermount's hierarchical autism specific approach to supporting students on the autistic spectrum. It is integral to everything the school does and is our tool to help and support children and young people in understanding and managing their autism. BERIS is an acronym for:
I learn to be calm: Being calm is the fundamental requirement for students to engage in learning; unless students are calm, learning will not take place. Students are encouraged to use a variety of calming strategies and are also encouraged to recognise their own bodily changes when they are becoming anxious and implementing calm plans before the situation could deteriorate.
I learn to use systems of work: The environment is structured for learning through the use of group tables, work bays for independent work, visual timetables, task sheets and so on. Structures are individualised and flexible. The environment is labelled according to the individual needs of the class. We recognise when a child needs to be out of the classroom environment and learning can take place outside or in a different room away from the main group.
I learn to relate to others: We help the students understand how their actions can affect others by being more aware of the world around them and how they fit into society. We give the students opportunities to practice what they have learnt at school in other settings. Students are actively taught how to ask for help.
I learn to think about what I have done: Students are actively encouraged and supported to develop their own calm plans so they can develop insight into their behaviour and that of others. This is taught through the use of social stories and comic strip conversations particularly after an incident has occurred. Students are encouraged to acknowledge and celebrate their autism and that of others.
I CAN, I just haven't learnt it yet: Students are encouraged to access all of their skills and pictorial / visual evidence is used to remind them of their achievements. Students are encouraged to face challenges in order to accept their own weaknesses and set targets. This helps to promote self-esteem. Heathermount actively promotes an 'I can ...' philosophy in which students learn that it's alright to make mistakes as long as you learn from them.