Towards Independence – Learning through ASDAN

Circle of SupportEach individual has a Circle of Support which co-ordinates the assessment, planning, implementation and regular review of the support plan including the person’s flexible daily activity schedule.

The activities are selected to reflect what each individual is motivated by and enjoys doing and also to promote ongoing learning and the development of life skills.

As well as promoting greater engagement and independence these skills are also an important part of reducing behaviours of concern that can restrict the person’s opportunities.

The individual’s learning, where appropriate, can be delivered and celebrated through the use of the ASDAN Towards Independence Learning modules.

We are a recognised organisation to deliver both AQA Unit Award Scheme and ASDAN Towards Independence Programme.

Linzi Holt, one of our senior specialism leaders, is the recognised scheme co-ordinator for both. As a member we must comply with their procedures.


Towards Independence

What is it?

“Towards Independence” provides a framework of activities through which personal, social and independence skills can be developed and accredited for those with severe learning difficulties (SLD) and profound multiple learning difficulties (PMLD).

Who is is for?

Post-16 learners

“Towards Independence” can be undertaken at colleges, residential homes, schools, day and care centres and across local authority and private provision.


Towards Independence offers formal recognition for small steps in achievement towards a larger goal.

Modules can be used separately and accumulated to build a record of personal achievements.

There are almost 50 different modules to choose from, and the first of these – Starting Out – is mandatory.  Working through Starting Out allows learners to be helped to recognise achievements and plan targets and challenges, which can then be developed through further modules.

Learning at Liaise – Over recent months learners at Liaise have been working on modules such as Making Pictures, Getting Ready to Go Out, Meal Preparation and Cooking, and Multi-Sensory Experiences

Starting Out works well at Liaise as it is a good practical Assessment and planning tool, and works well alongside other assessments such as the IABA La Vigna & Willis Behaviour Assessment Guide (BAG)or Liaise’s information gathering tool for person centred planning, “What’s Important To ….”








What is Autism?

Autism ……

  • is a lifelong condition that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people
  • means differences and difficulties in three main areas known as the “Triad of Impairment”:
    • social communication: problems using and understanding verbal & body language
    • social interaction: problems in recognising and understanding other people’s feelings, and in managing their own
    • social imagination: problems understanding & predicting other people’s behaviour and intentions and imagining situations outside their own

Autism ……

  • affects the person’s senses, and how they experience the world around them
  • can mean that the person may experience some form of sensory sensitivity or under-sensitivity, for example to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours. Sensory issues can mean the person also has difficulty with body awareness, may have problems moving around easily or hold their bodies in unusual positions
  • can mean the person prefers a fixed routine and finds change incredibly difficult
  • can mean the person needs lots of support to cope with a world that is unpredictable, confusing and frightening
  • may affect the way a person conducts themselves, using behaviours that can be rigid, unusual and/or challenging to those around them

Autism ……

  • is an umbrella term that covers autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), autism spectrum condition (ASC), autistic spectrum difference, neuro-diversity & Asperger’s syndrome
  • is a spectrum disorder, affecting individuals in different ways and with varying severity. For example, people who have Asperger’s syndrome typically have fewer problems speaking than others on the autism spectrum, but still have significant problems with communication that can be masked by their ability to speak fluently. They are often of average or above average intelligence
  • can occur in combination with other conditions such as learning disabilities, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) or specific learning difficulties such as dyspraxia

Ref: “Fulfilling and rewarding lives: Implementing the Autism strategy for adults” Department of Health 2010

Liaise Loddon Ltd ……

  • is an independent organisation with many years experience providing personalised services for adults most profoundly affected by autism and severe learning disabilities, and who are at risk of being excluded from many activities, experiences & services in our communities
  • uses positive approaches to support individuals to build on their strengths and overcome barriers to living a life of their choosing
  • ensure relationships are built and nurtured with the individual, the whole family, staff, advocates and placing authorities to ensure the highest standard of service is provided at all times.

Do you know how your senses work?

If you know or work with somebody with autism, you’ll know that they often find it difficult to process everyday sounds, sights and smells. It can have a profound effect on someone’s life.

Did you know you have major seven senses?

  1. Sight
  2. Sound
  3. Touch
  4. Taste
  5. Smell
  6. Balance
  7. Body awareness

Some people are under- or over-sensitive in any or all of these areas.

Your brain processes all the sensory information (sounds, sights, smells) you receive and then organises and prioritises it. So you can understand that information.

Then you respond to it, with thoughts, feelings, behaviour or a combination.

Your body picks up sensory information – stimuli – through receptors. Your hands and feet have more receptors than any other body part. Most of the time, we deal with stimuli automatically.

Sensory overload

But many people with autism find it difficult to deal with all this information. They may become stressed or anxious – and they might even feel physical pain. That leads them to respond differently from you and me. What we see as challenging behaviour is actually a reasonable response to an overload of information.

To help the people we support cope with their sensory stimuli, we are creating a sensory garden. It can help to stimulate, develop or balance people’s sensory systems.

So at the first sign of spring, we dashed out into the garden at Sansa House and started a project.

The people we support are working with our colleagues to create a sensory garden. We started with raised beds and we’ve made them from scratch. You can follow our progress here.

Measuring and marking

Our support worker, Odette, helps T. to measure up the wood they need to create the raised beds in the garden.

Our support worker, Odette, helps T. to measure up wood for the raised beds

Cutting the wood to size

K. cuts the wood to the correct length under the watchful eyes of our support workers.

Support workers supervise K. as he saws the wood into the right length.

Putting it all together

This type of work is brilliant for helping the people we support to develop new skills. But more than that, they get involved in improving their home and personalising it. Here, L. tries her hand at drilling, with a little help from Odette.

Odette, a support worker, steadies the drill while L. fastens two planks of wood together.

Everything in its place

T. and Odette roll up their sleeves and take the finished raised bed frame over to its final position in Sansa House’s garden.

T. and a support worker carry the raised bed frame across the garden.


Now for a bit of digging…

With the frame in position, it’s time to start digging.

A support worker supervises T. while he starts digging the ground up inside the raised bed frame.

We’ll be working hard on our sensory garden over the next few months – keep an eye on the blog to see how we’re doing.

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