Now I’m celebrated for who I am

Mia's one-page profile

Mia’s one-page profile

Through the eyes of a 12 year old. Mia shares with us how her one-page profile has helped her communicate what is important to her and how best to support her well. Her Aspergers means that she can sometimes get worried or stressed by situations and having a one-page profile has relieved this fear significantly as the people around her understand her better. Now Mia is celebrated for who she is – this is Mia’s story.

Written by Mia

My name is Mia and I am 12 years old.  I am a very sporty person and I like swimming and hockey and athletics. I like to be in the school sports teams and be active. I have Aspergers Syndrome, which means that although I am very clever I sometimes get very stressed and worried and don’t understand people always.

I created a one-page profile because my mum wanted to help me to settle into my new school and be happy. I was moving from primary school to high school and this was a big change for me and I don’t like change. The one-page profile was to help the teachers understand me as a person and what was important to me and how to check if I was o.k. as I don’t always show people when I am stressed. It was also to pass information about what worked well for me from my old school to my new school.

Lots of people were involved in my one-page profile, my mum and dad and my sister contributed about what they liked about me, also my Nan. My school teacher was involved and explained what happens for me in school, but most of all I was able to explain what was important to me and what worries me and how to help me with this.

My one-page profile was given to all of the teachers, because of it my new form teacher knew a bit about me when I went to the school for a trial and this helped me feel relaxed. My one-page profile has been used to help teachers put things in place like homework slips to help me get organised. I’m not very good at this sometimes! My mum has come to the school with some teachers and me to add information when things have changed.

I asked my mum what she thinks of my one-page profile and this is what she said:

“The one-page profile has helped people to understand Mia and look for ways in which she is communicating. She is the vice captain of her form class a position of responsibility that she is exceptionally proud of, without the one-page profile teachers would not have known how important this is for Mia.

“Lots of support has been given to Mia around how to make school better for her and most of it has been with Mia at the centre of the decisions which has helped her to gain confidence and manage a very stressful period in her life. Most importantly, Mia is recognised for her talents and abilities and not just her challenges and difficulties.

“What has clearly come out of Mia’s one-page profile is how Mia doesn’t always show how she is feeling and she now has a great group of friends who Mia has shown her profile too and they too ‘get Mia’. School remains difficult for Mia at times but the one-page profile has clearly helped with information sharing, developing strategies and ensuring Mia is at the centre of her life. It has also helped to develop good relationships with family and teachers and I would without doubt recommend a one-page profile to every child in school.”

An alternative to setting targets through SEN Statements

A wonderful example of how one-page profiles can help schoolchildren who experience autism communicate what is important to and for them whilst sharing their personal skills and gifts in a way that works well for them. Connor’s story demonstrates how one-page profiles can be used in person-centred reviews as an alternative to solely setting targets through SEN Statements; putting him at the heart of all decision making.

Connor's school one-page profile

Connor’s school one-page profile

Written by SENCo Debra Ayers from Blaenbaglan Primary School

Connor is eleven years old and has a dual diagnosis of speech, language and communication difficulties and autistic spectrum disorder. He is very caring and loves singing and drama. His personality endears him to adults and he has built some good friendships. He speaks as he finds and has a sense of humour if the joke isn’t on him.

Connor’s one page profile was created in readiness for his transition to Comprehensive school so that the new people in his life could get to know him a little before meeting him and Connor could tell them what he thought was important for them to know about him.

Connor completed ‘what’s important to me?’ independently and ‘good day bad day’ was shared with staff to create ‘how best to support me’. His peers, staff and family contributed to ‘what we like and admire’. He created his profile in school using ‘Pages’ (i-pad) and included a video. The profile was completed over the course of five teaching sessions in a week.

Connor’s profile is on display in school and has been shared with staff in his new school, his family, the LEA and professionals who are currently working with him. It was sent out with his invitation to his first person-centred review. It has been used in preparing for this review through discussion with Connor, his mother, teacher and speech and language therapist, identifying what’s working / not working and possible outcomes to be considered in the review meeting. It’s a working document which he can amend and add to.

He has loved making it and it portrays so much about him, even down his choice of colours and use of video. It has helped staff working with him gain a deeper insight into his views in and out of school. It has certainly helped us realise the importance of not assuming we know everything! Even his mother was surprised at one thing he included in ‘best ways to support me’. It helped us realise how astute Connor is about his likes, strengths and needs. It has helped family and professionals realise how they can support him and use the profile as the link to encouraging him to become increasingly independent by offering something that we know he wants or is important to him and putting in strategies that will enable this to be successful.

Connor loves sharing his profile with others and it has helped him to build relationships with less familiar adults and peers. The profile, as part of the person-centred review process, has, undoubtedly, made Connor central to the decision making process and the outcomes are pertinent to him at this moment in time, rather than having targets set linked to his Statement of SEN and what we as parents and professionals consider to be important for him.

We thought we knew Connor well before producing his one-page profiles but he still surprised us and his mother. It gives an amazing insight that we just hadn’t managed to achieve before! The person-centred review process, has changed the way we will prepare for and conduct review meetings. Connor is now at the heart of the process, being fully involved in the meeting and actively buying into the outcomes because they are important to him.

Seeing the child that I see

A strong example of how this mum’s battle to constantly advocate and inform has transformed since creating her son’s one-page profile. Now she is able to sit back and listen as she has the confidence that the people supporting her son understand him well and see the child that she sees.

MalcolmWritten by Malcolm’s mum

My son Malcolm is almost 10 years old and is a very smart, funny boy who is such a positive, contagiously happy fellow. We had known from his toddlerhood that he had some delays in his development and seemed to be oblivious to much of the activity around him. It was very clear that he was bright and much of what we saw could be fluffed off as being a third child and my mom had said that boys seem to speak later than girls, so we weren’t concerned.

When Malcolm was 6 he was assessed for Aspergers and Autism. His older brother was diagnosed with Aspergers when he was 6 and Malcolm seemed to be progressing socially and speech-wise, much slower than his peers. At that time he was not clearly on the Spectrum. By the time he was 7, the paediatrician labelled him with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and put him on medication. The medication certainly helped but when he was 8, he started to show signs of emotional struggles that seemed greater than the ADD label. After he was assessed by a team at The Children’s Treatment Network in the spring, they had found his characteristics seemed consistent with an Autism diagnosis.

When Malcolm started his grade 4 year at the age of 9, there were so many new staff members to the school, including the principal, that it seemed a good idea for me to create a one-page profile for them to get to know my son and to know how to help him through any social/emotional struggles he may experience during school. The year prior, he had started to hit himself in the face when he was overwhelmed with frustration, I felt that the staff could understand more about what drove this behaviour, how to recognise the triggers and therefore how to support him to avoid it, as well as how to guide classmates in supporting him in a non-judgmental way.

As a part of my role with Community Living, I have been creating one-page profiles for various facets of people’s lives to help others get to know them. I created a profile for my son for him to enjoy his own information, for him to feel that he doesn’t have to tell each staff member, respite contractor or Camp Councillor about his struggles but can simply hand over his profile for them to learn from. I provided the information and observations as well as found photos of pride for him (the faded photo of him getting a bulls eye in archery) and Malcolm proofed it.

Malcolm’s one-page profile has been shared with his Respite Contractors, his homeroom teacher, and all other supports in his life at school. We have also used it for his transition into a new school where he will be attending Extended French.

It has been very helpful to us as parents. It is easy for people to jump to conclusions about the behaviour of our son as it isn’t a common reaction for a child to try and hurt himself. The profile makes staff aware of this possibility arising but it focuses more on what great things my son can do and interests he has, and it helps people quickly want to get to know him so he can feel safe and appreciated without the stress of a poor reaction from others.

I have found that teachers and students are more protective of him and will rally around him when others might make fun of him or respond negatively.

Whether it is because of the one-page profile or because he is surrounded by a great group of people, it isn’t clear why he is now so engaged and cared about. But it is clear that the profile has eased the constant explanations, the reactions of others, and the quick to judge comments. Our energies are now focused on the future and not having to continuously inform and advocate.

I have found that our time is better spent with teachers and support staff just getting updates and funny stories during meetings now. I really enjoy just listening during a conversation rather than informing and so often there is only positive information being passed to us and not the constant worries of the staff who may not understand why Malcolm is acting in a certain way.

I believe that Malcolm’s one-page profile has helped others move past the negatives and the uncertainties and just see the child.

What he can do, not what he can’t do

An example of how this mum has used one-page profiles to support her son well at school and to ensure that the family’s relationships with health professionals are equal and balanced. Marianne wanted to introduce her son by describing what he could do, not what he couldn’t do; the one-page profile was the perfect tool.

Written by mum Marianne

Alex's one-page profile

Alex’s one-page profile

When my son Alex was about to start pre-school I knew there would be things about his support needs that I needed to be able to communicate to his teachers.  However, I really didn’t want to introduce him or for him to start school life with a long list of things that he needed help doing. I wanted the new people in his life to meet him as the cheeky, funny, confident little boy that he is.

Alex has Down’s Syndrome and from the very early days it has felt like professionals can often be more interested in what he can’t do rather than what he can do. I just didn’t want his education experience to be the same.  Unfortunately it already felt like it was going to be. I found myself filling in statements of special needs for his assessments and I realised how easy it would be to fall into this mindset. I wanted to counterbalance this with positive statements. Starting school was a massive milestone for Alex and I was determined to start him off on the right foot.

Alex’s one-page profile sets out how we want him to be treated, what is important to him and how he wants to be supported. We had used the same profile when Alex attended a short term respite centre and had a very positive reaction, with staff feeding back that it really helped them to understand him.

Using a one-page profile with Alex and his school means that we can be sure that we are presenting him in the best way and have the confidence that people will support him well.  Alex loves playing with his friends, tasty snacks, TV programmes, bubbles, singing and playing with water. He can need support when eating – to be reminded to slow down, he doesn’t understand danger –  so needs people looking out for him and he uses Makaton to communicate so it is essential that people  use this method with him.  His one-page profile covers all of this and much more and is in a simple easy-to-read format so can be picked up and understood quickly.

We update Alex’s profile every  year and I love charting his development and growth in this way.  Each year we see he finds new interests and discovers greater independence. My favourite part of updating his profile is talking to his classmates about what they like and admire about Alex. It is so nice to hear that he is well liked and fun to be around.

Since using a one-page profile with Alex and realising its potential I have introduced one for our family too. We find that we interact with so many health professionals, it sets out how best those relationships can work for us. For example, it is easier for us to have meetings on Thursdays and we prefer to have the opportunity to review paperwork in advance of the meeting. Setting out our stall in this way is empowering. It puts us on a more equal footing and as such we are in a stronger position to advocate for our son.

Breaking down preconceived ideas

An example of how one-page profiles can be used to introduce the person rather than the diagnoses.  Alfie’s dad talks about how his son’s profile has helped people get to know him and all of his positive traits rather than just his diagnoses of Aspergers.

Alfie's one-page profile

Alfie’s one-page profile

Written by Damien Nolan, Alfie’s dad

Alfie is our ten year old son who has had a formal diagnoses of Aspergers Syndrome since he was three years old. Alfie is a great boy with a big heart and loving demeanor.  He is very cuddly in an innocent kind of way. His friends and family are incredibly important to him and he is obsessive with all things transport related.

I decided to help Alfie produce a one-page profile after attending a person-centred approaches course run by Yvonne Linton, Family Footings Facilitator.  I thought it would come in very useful to show to teachers, doctors and people new to Alfie, so that they could gain a quick understanding of who he really is as opposed to seeing him only for his diagnoses.

Alfie and I talked through his one-page profile. I wanted him to be happy with the picture that his one-page profile would paint and for him to feel that I had got his traits and passions correct. He also chose the photos to be included which he really enjoyed.

Since making the profile we have used it at every opportunity. It has been particularly useful at school when meeting with new teachers or teaching assistants that might not have worked with Alfie before. Alfie likes to be included in class and gets upset if he feels left out. He needs a lot of encouragement at PE and he needs to know well in advance if there will be a change to his timetable. As well as communicating this vital information, Alfie’s profile has helped his new teachers get a good feel of who Alfie really is (all his lovely traits) and be at ease in terms of how to support and interact with him.

Has having the one-page profile made a difference? Well I like to think so. It’s nice to involve Alfie in how the world will see him and hopefully break down some preconceived ideas that people might have about a boy with a diagnoses of Aspergers.

Most recently I used the one-page profile at a Transition meeting with a SENCo from Alfie’s new secondary school which he starts in September. I don’t think she had seen one before and she took it away with her which was great. Especially as it was the first time she had met Alfie and it gave her some points to talk to him about, ensuring they got off to a good start. Once Alfie starts secondary school I will make sure that all his new teachers take a copy.

My hope is that by using the one-page profile more and more, the people who come into contact with Alfie will quickly get to know the ‘boy’ rather than the ‘label’ of Aspergers.

You can find more examples of using one-page profiles and other person-centred thinking tools in a school setting from this website www.personalisingeducation.org

Bridging the gap between home and school

An excellent example of how one-page profiles in schools can help pupils and teachers adjust to a new term, build confidence, enhance understanding and communicate additional support needs. Jacob had struggled to make progress with his writing and to engage in certain lessons. His one-page profile has helped him turn this around, with his writing improving significantly and a better consistency in support between home and school.

Jacob's one-page profile

Jacob’s one-page profile

Written by Jacob’s mum Marianne 

My son Jacob is nine years old. He lives at home with me, his dad and his two younger brothers. Jacob loves playing computer games and watching films.

Jacob doesn’t get any formal additional support at school but has been struggling for a couple of years to make progress with his writing. He enjoys being in class but can find it difficult to concentrate when the subject matter doesn’t grab his attention.

Jacob’s youngest brother has had a one-page profile for quite a while and so during the summer holidays before starting Year 5, Jacob and I decided we would develop one for him too. We hoped it would help his new teacher get to know him quickly.

We asked Jacob’s teachers who already knew him well to tell us what they had learnt about him over the last year. We asked them to focus in particular on the things they liked about him as well as the support he needs to get the most out of learning.

We also asked the rest of our family what they love about him. Jacob spent time thinking about the things he most enjoyed about being at school – the things that meant he had a great day there.

Jacob loves playing on his dad’s ipad and decided he wanted to use an app called pic collage to develop what his profile looked like. This meant he could design it as he wanted to.

Jacob took his one-page profile back to school with him after the summer holidays and gave it to his new teacher. A copy was also given to his Kumon teacher which he started at the same time.

The profile is kept on our fridge at home so everyone can see it. His dad and I use the ‘important for’ section in particular when helping him with his homework.

The plan is to update it properly, once a year. As the summer term comes to an end, we will ask his Year 5 teachers to share their learning about how best to support Jacob at school in preparation for helping year 6 get off to the best start.

Jacob is already working out how his next profile will look – he’s decided that the wrestling and superheroes photos will most likely be replaced with Skylanders!

Jacob really enjoyed creating his own profile. He said that he liked having a photo that wasn’t of him wearing his school uniform and he liked being able to find photos of the things he likes to put on it.

When his profile was given to his Kumon teacher, she said it was one of the most useful things she had seen in terms of understanding Jacobs learning support needs straight away.

His school teacher was new to the whole school not just Jacob, so his profile helped her quickly get a feel for what mattered to Jacob, how to get him and keep him interested in learning.

We absolutely loved hearing from his year 4 teachers what they liked about him as did Jacob! It was so good to hear the genuine affection and regard they had for him and to hear how different he is at school from at home. We also found the information about how to support him at school really helpful and detailed. We hadn’t been given this information previously and it made a real difference to how we now support Jacob at home with school work.

Jacob has made much progress in his first two terms of year 5. The school has a better understanding of how to engage in what he is learning and his concentration has therefore improved. He has made more progress in his writing this year than he has in the previous three years and there is more consistency between home and school in how we all support him. I’m looking forward to repeating the process each year and seeing how Jacob and his one-page profiles evolve.

You can find more examples of using one-page profiles and other person-centred thinking tools in a school setting from this website www.personalisingeducation.org

‘Quick start guide’

How a one-page profile can support someone with severe learning disabilities and autism in life; from changing schools to choosing the right hairdresser.  Joe’s experience is testament to how powerful sharing information and communicating ‘what is important’ can be.

Joe's one-page profile

Joe’s one-page profile

Written by Joe’s mum, Debbie

Joe has severe learning disabilities and autism.  He needs a lot of support to communicate, to be included and to stay safe.  When Joe was eight years old I went on a Families Leading Planning course and put together an Essential Lifestyle Plan for Joe.  This transformed his life, most notably by leading to him having some time in a local mainstream school and eventually leaving his non inclusive, specialist school altogether.

Because of the complexity of Joe’s needs, the ELP was fourteen pages long. Although this detail was crucial for Joe’s main carers, it was overwhelming for people who had less frequent or intense supporting roles in Joe’s life.   Joe’s Dad suggested that we needed a ‘quick start guide’ similar to the quick start installation instructions that came with electrical gadgets!  At first I thought it would not be possible to condense key information to one page, but we did manage it.  On Joe’s one-page profile it signposts people to his plan for more detail.  It includes Joe’s main likes and dislikes, and the vital support needed to keep him happy and safe.  We also adapted the one-page profile into a brief powerpoint with pictures to introduce new school staff to Joe. This worked very well.

The one-page profile has been an excellent introductory tool.  We have been able to pass it to people in shoe shops, at holiday parks, and to reception staff where Joe has had to wait and where  his behaviour might seem odd.  We have used it to vet potential hairdressers using a system where, if they seem phased by the one-page profile then they are not suitable, but if they seem positive then they clearly were.  We have found it a very inclusive tool as the language and style is not medicalised or full of specialist jargon.  This makes people who do not live or work in the disability world feel confident that they can know how to interact with a young man like Joe.  It takes away the fear and demonstrates our common humanity – we all have our likes and dislikes after all.

Ideally, the one-page profile would be on the front of Joe’s medical records, in his class register, and up on the wall of his school.  This would enable all staff – particularly supply staff – to know his needs at a glance.  It would also keep a sense of who Joe really is as a person at the centre of carers’ minds.

I’d like to live in a world where one-page profiles are so common, that it is standard practice to email them to any destination, person or service that may come into contact with a person with additional needs. It has opened up doors for Joe and for us and I strongly believe it could for other people too.

Getting the right support in school

Jordan OPP

Jordan’s one-page profile

An excellent example of how by using a one-page profile in school, teachers can respond to the individual needs of their students, modifying their language and offering the right support for their future.  Jordan lets her profile speak for her when she doesn’t feel comfortable doing so herself and has had a great response from her teachers and school.

Written by Barb Swartz-Biscaro

Jordan is a 15 year old young lady from Dunchurch Ontario, Canada. When Jordan was starting secondary school in 2011, she and her mom created a High School one-page profile that included her vision of what she wanted to achieve. They felt it was really important to use a profile since she was moving from a very small elementary school and had some emotional and academic struggles. They wanted to educate her teachers about who she was and how to help her be successful.

Jordan and her mom worked together to type up a detailed profile using the information from the interactive one-page profile workshops they had taken part in.  The workshops also included an activity focusing on developing vision boards.

The profile was sent to all of her teachers at the beginning of each semester as well as the guidance counsellor, principal and vice principal. Each of the teachers responded by thanking Jordan and her mom for sharing it and offering essential information for supporting Jordan. The teachers used it to refer to throughout each semester and in conversations with Jordan’s mom. It is updated every new school year.

Most importantly Jordan is able to attend school with the confidence that her teachers are aware of who she is without having to explain herself verbally. Her Grade 9 French teacher noticed specifically the information about public speaking being a real struggle for Jordan.  He made arrangements with her to make the process less stressful and help her grow in that area. By the end of the semester Jordan was feeling much more confident about speaking in groups. The one-page profile also helped ensure that she had the necessary courses for her career choice.  At the end of the first semester after really struggling with Math, her teacher suggested she drop down one academic level in Grade 10. Her guidance counsellor saw this recommendation and referred to her vision in her profile which included a college diploma in child care. Her guidance counsellor knew that she would not achieve this vision if she were to take the recommended Math and spoke to Jordan’s mom about other options to keep Jordan in her current academic level. Jordan sought Math tutoring over her Grade 10 year and has achieved a high average in Math.

In Grade 10 Jordan started the year with some new teachers and struggles and worked with her mom to make changes to her profile to reflect this. Most notably, a teacher was calling her by her last name which she did not like but was uncomfortable asking him to stop. She added this to her profile and handed it to him and he began using only her first name. She also added that the location of her locker is significant to reducing her anxiety levels and the school accommodated her by giving her a locker central to her classes.

Jordan has seen great success with her profile and its updates. It seems to speak for her, which she is not comfortable doing. Teachers have appreciated receiving it and made whatever modifications they could to help her have a successful school day and year.

There is a website dedicated to sharing examples and best practice of personalisation in education where you can find out more about using one-page profiles in schools: www.personalisingeducation.org