Have you ever wondered how overseas schools manage the SLCN needs of their students when they have no access to a speech and language therapy service and the resources available are limited to say the least? Scot Greathead SLT explains how a mother utilised the resources around her to develop the Oasis School in Pakistan.

In just 10 years, Oasis School has changed the landscape of Autism Education in Pakistan. A unique combination of relationships with Facebook, Pakistan’s celebrities, and the founders of the SCERTS Model (http://scerts.com) and the TEACCH Framework (see strategies at www. autism.org.uk) has created a vision of a more inclusive society in Pakistan.

Changing perceptions of autism in Pakistan

The school was founded by the mother of an autistic boy and their first ‘classroom’ was in the back of an office with just two children! Over ten years it has flourished into a specially built school in Lahore with over 50 local teaching and therapeutic professionals, supporting 36 students (aged 4-22 years) and their families. Alongside evidence­based educational support, the school aims to change the way that the whole of Pakistan understands the challenges, values and abilities of autistic people. Recently, one of Lahore’s most prestigious galleries hosted an exhibition of Oasis students’ artwork which was hugely successful. You can view the impressive ‘autwork’ on lnstagram by finding the hashtag #AutArt.

What is the school like?

The school is a vibrant community of different professionals. The SCERTS Model and The TEACCH Framework have been hugely influential and the classrooms have visual supports that would be the envy of any classroom in the UK! It’s not unusual to walk around the school and see students playing adapted PE games, whizzing around on Segways, making juices to share, completing maths assignments or making beautiful handmade paper notebooks.

A ‘global family’ of professionals

In Pakistan, there sadly is a shortage of teachers, SLTs, OTs and psychologists supporting autistic children. Oasis School has adopted a global view and has invited professionals from across the world to collaborate with them. They regularly hold online seminars with educational experts from the UK and America and have partnered with Facebook’s sister site ‘Workplace’ to link SLT students from the University of Greenwich with Oasis teachers.

It’s a true example of a transcontinental, 21 st century partnership, collaborating online without ever meeting face to face! Teachers upload videos of children onto Workplace’s secure platform and the UK team, 4,000 miles away, view and make recommendations on how communication and learning supports might be built into the activities. The relationship is mutually beneficial and both groups collaborate using The SCERTS Model to set and evaluate goals, whilst gaining rich insights into each other’s culture.

What next…?

The future looks promising for the students at Oasis school… there are new partnerships in the pipeline to give them educational and employment opportunities beyond their school.

Read Scot’s full article and interview with staff at speechanlanguage.info

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