The SPELL Approach
The SPELL framework recognises the unique needs of the individual. This guidance tool emphasises that planning and intervention should be organised on this basis. SPELL stands for Structure, Positive Approaches and Expectations, Empathy, Low arousal and Links.
Some children are unable to cope in situations when they cannot predict the outcome or fully understand what is happening. A consistent routine or specific structure in these situations can support children to understand what may be expected of them in certain situations, which may reduce any heightened confusion and anxieties.
Environments can be modified to ensure each person in the household (or learning environments) understands what is going to happen so that they can support the structure which may contribute to the creation of a calmer home.
Families can obtain ideas and resources to enable them to create structured environments which are predictable for their children. Structure can also aid personal autonomy and independence by reducing dependence on others (e.g. prompting). Please keep a look out for specific resources on this via our resources page.
Self confidence can be reinforced by building on and encouraging the child's natural strengths and specific interests. This positive approach can help to reduce anxieties and aid in the development of new skills. Many neurodivergent children may avoid new or potentially aversive experiences, but with structure that is positive, sensitive and supportive, it can help to reduce their level of anxiety and in turn help them to tolerate and accept new experiences whilst aiding in the development of new or exisitng skills.
If families can help evaluate and identify their childs strengths, interests and abiltiies, it will become easier to provide support and resources aimed to empower families to build on and reinforce their child's self-confidence and self-esteem.
It is always important for parents, families and caregivers to try and see the world from the the childs locus of evaluation as this will help them to understand what motivates and interests them. This may also enable them to see what is potentially causing the child any stress or distress. The quality of the relationship between caregivers and the child is vital. By aiming to be as calm, predictable, realistic and empathetic as possible, this can improve the quality of relationships and support positive family dynamics.
It also doesnt harm to be 'thick skinned' and have a good sense of humour. Look out for our social platforms where you can share your views with us and other parents.
The low arousal approach to supporting distressed behaviours, focuses on the child’s wellbeing, stress levels and how caregivers respond in moments of crisis.
It is beneficial to be calm and organised with the aim of reducing the anxiety and aid concentration and reduce distressing behaviour. Some children may need more time to process information, therefore it is important that information is presented to the child with care, Regular low arousal breaks throughout the day will aid self-regulation and reduce anxiety and associated behaviours.
We are passionate about encouraging others to consider different ideas and approaches along with suggestions to help within the child’s environment. Sometimes a small change can make a big difference. Below is a small example.
- Noise levels
- Colour schemes
- Awareness of odours
- Removal of clutter
Please look out for our forthcoming opportunities for supplementary relaxation and arousal reduction.
We understand from personal experience that supporting a child with additional needs can feel like a constant battle when trying to obtain support or additional services. Fighting for your voice to be heard can be very tiring, demorallising and adds more stress and anxiety to an already fraught situation or family dynamic. We know that there can be barriers to accessing support for your own children. Nonetheless there is huge benefit in positive collaboration between all parties that can be involved in a child's care and welfare.
This can be as simple as sharing information, tools and approaches that the child responds well to. This enables consistency in all settings, reinforcing expectations whilst respecting autonomy. We are passionate about supporting families to be empowered through gained knowledge and confidence to be able to source information and/or support for their child.
We plan to deliver webinars, opportunities for Q&A and other resources to give care givers knowledge and encouragement to confidently advocate for their children. These places are limited and booking is essential. Reports can be provided at the end of the course which can be useful to include when advocating for your child.