How Can SPELL Support People With Autism?
How Can SPELL Support People With Autism?
Life for people with autism can be made more challenging by an exclusive society. Many people with autism may communicate in different ways from neurotypical individuals, which can put them on the periphery of wider society when others are not correctly educated about different methods of communication.
At Calvert Trust Exmoor, we are dedicated to making the world a more welcoming place for all. Our inclusive and adaptive activity holidays for people with disabilities cater to people of all ages and abilities, including those on the autistic spectrum.
Learning about frameworks like SPELL is just one useful place to start when considering how to better understand and respond to people with autism. What are the benefits of SPELL, and how can the structure support communications for people with autism?
What is the SPELL Framework?
Developed by the National Autistic Society, SPELL is a guideline that can help those interacting with people with autism recognise someone’s individual needs and understand how to best meet these needs. There are five elements that go into creating the framework:
- Positive Approaches and Expectations
- Low Arousal
How to Support an a Person With Autism
Using SPELL provides a useful baseline when it comes to supporting people with autism. The guidelines it gives can be adapted for people of all ages.
The five principles focus on assessing the unique needs of individuals with autism and explore the ways we can change our environments to make communication more accessible and effective. How can each element support people with autism?
Many people with autism may struggle with change or unpredictability, so providing structure can be hugely beneficial.
A sense of structure can give individuals more independence and confidence as they’ll know what to expect from a situation or person. Facilitating structure, stability and routine that is catered to individuals can reduce feelings of anxiety and stress.
Positive Approaches & Expectation
This element focuses on building self-esteem and confidence through focusing on interests and strengths and building goals around these positive attributes.
Creating realistic targets that take into account the barriers an individual might face helps support development. Many people with autism may struggle with trying new experiences, but a structure of positive encouragement can help support progress.
As individuals progress, they can start setting higher goals that will support their overall well-being.
When a neurotypical person communicates with someone with autism, empathy can be a helpful tool. Seeing the world from their perspective may help you understand their reactions to certain things and what you can do to help improve the environment or reduce stressors.
Developing successful relationships will often come down to communicating in a consistent, logical and empathetic manner.
Different people will be able to deal with different levels of stimulus, so consider how the environment might affect a person with autism. Environments should be ordered and free of distractions to help keep communication relaxed and clear.
Some may need more time and focus to digest information, so keep control of any input to avoid a chaotic environment. Remain aware of noise, light, colours, smells and anything else in the environment that might cause a sensory overload.
This point refers to the importance of communicating with people with autism and the other people in their life, whether this means family, friends or caregivers.
Considering this support network as a unit helps avoid any instances of miscommunication or a fragmented approach. By keeping all involved on the same page, relevant information can flow more effectively.
Understanding and Responding to Autism
With this framework, hopefully, caregivers and others who interact with people with autism can gain a better understanding of the most productive ways to communicate with and support them.
It should be noted that everyone is different and will have different needs, so tailor your approach to them rather than following the framework blindly.
If you are or you know a someone with autism who would love to take on a new adventure at our autism-friendly activity centre, why not get in touch to find out more about our activities and opportunities?