I offer various consultation services. Frequently, services employ me to carry out hands-on work with their staff as a follow-up to course delivery. I find this aspect of my work to be hugely enjoyable and effective as a reinforcement of the issues raised during a course.
However, a consultation may not be a follow-up; often I will be asked to work with a team simply in order to help them think through a particularly challenging situation they are experiencing with a pupil or service user, or to develop strategies for helping a particularly ‘difficult to reach’ person, or to look at issues of organisation, management and teamwork. Some examples of this type of work are listed below.
- I spent a day in a school for children with severe learning difficulties. I was introduced to four very difficult to reach children who were socially remote in their behaviour and lifestyle. I observed and worked with each one in turn and shot video of interactive situations of the child with the staff. I had short debriefs with key staff working with each child where we sketched out communication programmes, then a meeting with the whole staff team at the end of the day.
- I was asked to work with a social services residential team who were caring for a little boy with autism who was starting to injure himself severely. We looked at everything that the staff team were doing to cope with the situation; we wrote a protocol and guidelines for physical intervention with the little boy; we wrote some additional action plans for measures and practices the staff could adopt to move the little boy forward with his feelings and behaviour.
- I spent two days in a pre-school provision for twenty children who have autism. The staff team already possessed high-quality practices for helping the children with communication and being social, but they wanted to up-rate their techniques nonetheless. I observed, shot videos, and played with children. At the end of the second day the staff team and I sat together reviewing videos, talking techniques and writing strategies.
- I was called in to support a social services staff team working in a house with three men who could be frequently very challenging and violent. I spent two days with a month between the two visits. I helped the staff to look at all of their coping strategies, the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the routines they needed to have in place, their record-keeping and their defusing skills. We also spent time talking about what more the staff team could do to have better teamwork, to support each other and to raise morale.
- A large residential school has employed me on average for one day a month for three years. They use me to help them look at many aspects of the way their organisation works. I have delivered one-day courses to teams. I have carried out hands-on work in classrooms on issues of communication and challenging behaviour centred on individual pupils. I have helped the school to develop a guidelines document on working with pupils whose behaviour can be challenging, and to implement it as a living, working document. I sit with the senior management team and help them to think about strategies for developing practice. Increasingly, I carry out similar work in the many residential houses on the campus.
- A charity that provides residential care asked me to spend a day observing and supporting the work of one of their teams. They were providing a home to six adults with severe learning difficulties. One of them, a twenty-eight year old man who has autism, was generally in a highly distressed state and prone to severe outbursts of violence. The violence was so great that he lived alone and in a separate part of the house from other residents. I was asked to scrutinise their management of the young man in every respect and to offer a critique or endorsement of what they were doing. I attended a case conference involving all agencies and the parents and wrote a follow-up report with my findings.