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What does that stand for?

Below is a list of commonly used words or phrases at Merefield, some of which you may not be familiar with or would like to know more about. 


If there is anything you would added to this list, please let us know.


(Use the bar at the bottom to scroll the width of the table)


Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)  is a range of strategies and tools to help individuals who struggle with speech. AAC helps someone to communicate as effectively as possible, in as many situations as possible and can be aided, including writing, use of pictures and/or symbols and use of communication aids (high or low tech) or unaided, such as eye contact facial expressions, signs and gestures.

Some examples of resources used to aid communication at Merefield include:

  • PECS
  • Visual timetables
  • ALI boards/choice boards
  • Eye gaze devices
  • iPads
  • Lanyards
  • Picture strips
  • Now and next boards


Aided Language Input, also known as Aided Language Stimulation.

This is a teaching strategy in which a teacher/parent highlights symbols on the pupil’s

communication aid/ ALI board/book/iPad as he or she interacts and communicates verbally with the user.


Rather than ‘rote’ teaching of symbol to concept the learner  is provided with

frequent models of symbol use in NATURAL and REAL interactions.


When ALI is being conducted on a routine basis, in all ongoing activities

within a classroom, there is no need to conduct ‘test’ like activities e.g. “can you find the symbol for ‘stop?’, where is ‘cake?’.


This therefore mimics the natural way typically developing children learn to

comprehend language, it eliminates need to set aside specific sessions for

symbol comprehension training.


We use ALI boards a lot in school for many activities, each board is created bespoke to the activity and includes core vocabulary related to the activity and this language is taught naturally throughout the activity, just like the way a typically developing child would learn the language.


Autistic Spectrum Condition is a developmental disability affecting the way a person communicates with and relates to people around them.  People with Autism have difficulty relating to others in a meaningful way. Social interaction, social communication and imagination are impaired. 


Attention Autism is an intervention model designed by Gina Davies, Specialist Speech and Language Therapist. It aims to develop natural and spontaneous communication through the use of visually based and highly motivating activities

Stage 1- The Bucket: Everyone attends to the same thing chosen by the adult Stage 2- Attention Builder: Pupils develop longer and sustained attention skills. 

Stage 3- Turn-taking games: Pupil learn to shift attention 

Stage 4- Independent work: Pupils focus, sustain, shift attention, transition and then refocus.

Behaviour Plan

A behaviour plan is produced for individuals to help us to understand and respond to their communication effectively, with the aim of reducing the likelihood of challenging behaviours. 

Merefield’s behaviour plans outline a description of a pupils’ behaviours, possible triggers, how adults can support and intervene and give scripted interventions to ensure a consistent approach.


Bridge Inn Community Farm is a care farm for Adults with learning disabilities or Mental Health difficulties. It gives people a real working experience to care for friendly animals, grow crops and be part of a team. There is also the opportunity to gain nationally recognised qualifications in horticulture and agriculture.


Blank’s Levels of Questioning is a questioning framework developed by Marion Blank, a renowned psychologist. There are four levels of questioning which move from simple, concrete questions to more difficult, abstract questions. Blank’s questions encourage development of general language and vocabulary as well as skills in comprehension, reasoning, inferencing, predicting and problem solving 

Colourful semantics

Colourful semantics is a targeted approach to support children with their sentence building and to teach them about sentence structure. It was developed by Alison Bryan and is now widely used with children experiencing language difficulties. The approach teaches a child the different parts of a sentence by giving each one a colour and an associated question prompt. The four parts of a sentence are: who, what doing, what and where.

CVC words

CVC words are three letter words that follow a consonant/vowel/consonant pattern. For example - cat, dog, mum, dad, hat, mat

VC words are 2 letter words that follow a vowel/ consonant pattern. For example - it, at, as, an

CV words are 2 letter words that follow a consonant/vowel pattern. For example - to, go, so, no 


Dance Massage combines the soothing, sensory experience of massage with the rhythm and energy of music. Dance Massage is interactive. It is a form of non-verbal communication. It is especially helpful to people with sensory impairments and complex needs and has many benefits; creating a feeling of body awareness, enhancing the senses, giving a feeling of well being and self-worth, building a sensory relationship with another, alleviating stress and tension, encouraging non-verbal communication, increasing toleration of handling, slowing of mood and tempo, building of personal relationships, emotionally bonding to another, establishing self-esteem, increasing concentration and finding of real enjoyment.


An Education Health and Care Plan is a legal document that describes a child or young person's special educational, health and social care needs, explains the extra help that will be given to meet those needs and how that help will support the child or young person to achieve what they want to in their life.


An assessment tool used for supporting pupils who are working below the level of the national curriculum and who are not engaged in subject-specific study. 


Forest school is an educational experience using the outdoor environment as a classroom, at Merefield we have an onsite facility for all to access however we also access other woodland areas in the local community. Forest school is an all inclusive experience that aims to support a holistic approach where possible.  It allows all participants the opportunity to succeed and develop in many ways. Everyone is offered the opportunity to engage in motivating and achievable tasks throughout the year.Activities include; controlled fires, tool work, crafts, outdoor exploration, tree climbing, etc. 


Intensive Interaction is highly practical, with the only ‘equipment’ needed being a sensitive and relaxed interactive partner. The sessions are aimed predominantly at non-verbal pupils who are at the very early stages of communication. Each session is child led, with the interactive partner copying facial expressions, body movements and vocalisations – the adult is non-directive and responsive and will encourage turn taking when appropriate.

The teaching sessions are therefore frequent, quite intense, but also fun-filled, playful and enjoyable. Both participants should be at ease with enjoyment of the activity as the main motivation. A session could be highly dynamic, with a great deal of vocalisation, sometimes with fun-filled physical contacts. A session could also be peaceful, slow and quiet.

Intensive Interaction at Merefield can happen any time... Staff become ‘in tune’ with the pupils in their classes and are open and approachable should a child wish to interact. Sessions are also structured into the timetable, with pupils taken to quiet areas of the classroom, into the playground, to the light room, in the swimming pool… in fact, almost anywhere! 

Learning difficulties/ disabilities

These are characteristics of pupils who have difficulties acquiring new skills or learn at a different rate to others.

Moderate learning difficulties (MLD): A child with MLD will have a general level of academic attainment that is significantly below that of a child their age. 

Profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD):  Pupils with PMLD have complex needs.  Among pupils with PMLD are those functioning at a level comparable with the earliest level of development and who have physical disabilities, sensory impairments or a severe medical condition.  Pupils require a high level of support both with their learning needs and also personal care. 

Severe Learning Difficulties (SLD): Pupils with SLD have significant intellectual or cognitive impairments.  This will have an impact on their ability to participate in the school curriculum without support. 


The Picture Exchange Communication System, or PECS, allows people with little or no communication abilities to communicate using pictures. People using PECS are taught to approach another person and give them a picture of a desired item in exchange for that item. By doing so, the person is able to initiate communication. A child or adult with autism can use PECS to communicate a request, a thought, or anything that can reasonably be displayed or symbolized on a picture card. PECS works well in the home or in the classroom.


What is a…

Grapheme - is a written symbol that represents a sound e.g. a/b/ea/ei/ff/ss


Phoneme - is the smallest unit of sound, e.g. cat has 3 sounds; c / a/ and t. 


Common exception words - words in which the English spelling code works in an unusual or uncommon way. E.g. ‘school’ has a /ch/ but the sound is not the same as it is in chip.


Grapheme Phoneme Correspondences - is when the child is able to match the grapheme with the phoneme and vice versa. 


Digraph - is 2 letters that make one sound e.g.  Chip also has 3 sounds; ch/i and p.   Ch is the diagraph. 


Trigraph - is a sound that is made up of 3 letters e.g. igh, air, ear, are.  (sight, fair, bear, care)


SPEEDY WORDS/high frequency words - these are common words that involve blending sounds or sight recognition and are commonly used. 


Personalised learning intention - The team supporting each student incorporates a variety of information such as personal aspirations, barriers to learning, the next stage for a student, learning levels and parental wishes to devise learning goals for each student to work towards over a set period of time.  They are called ‘intentions’ to address the ultimate aim of learning for that student whilst acknowledging that the aim may not be achieved in it’s entirety. All intentions are highly bespoke to ensure they are suited to the individual and that a suitable curriculum can be planned to provide as many opportunities for the student to develop and learn. 


Personalised Learning Intention Map - each pupil throughout the school has a PLIM that tells all staff working with the pupil, and families at home, what that pupils learning intentions are per half term or term 


ASDAN Personal progress - The qualifications have been developed for learners working towards and at Entry 1 to have their achievements recognised within a qualification framework. They can be undertaken in schools, colleges, residential and day care services, training providers and independent provision.


ASDAN Personal and Social Development - The Personal and Social Development (PSD) qualifications offer imaginative ways of supporting young people in: becoming confident individuals who are physically, emotionally and socially healthy

  • being responsible citizens who make a positive contribution to society and embrace change
  • managing risk together with their own wellbeing
  • as well as introducing them to new activities and personal challenges.


Pre Key stage Standards 


Performance attainment targets for pupils with SEN 


Rebound Therapy is a form of physiotherapy. It uses trampolines to provide therapeutic exercises to people with a wide variety of disabilities and additional needs. The therapy involves using the moving bed of the trampoline to promote movement in the participant.

Rebound Therapy at Merefield is led by highly trained staff; with each pupil having an individual programme of work. It takes place in the school hall, with the lights on low and music playing. It’s a highly enjoyable and relaxed session that promotes learning through physical activity. 


Speech and Language Therapists ( SALT) work with parents/carers and school staff to assess if a child has speech and/or language difficulties, communication or eating and drinking difficulties. The therapist will consider the difficulties the child has and the impact these will have on his/her life. If appropriate the therapist will decide how the child can be helped to reach their full communication potential.

At Merefield, teachers can make referrals to SALT with permission from parents/carers.When a referral is received additional information may be gathered and a decision will be made as to the appropriateness and urgency of the referral. The parent and the referrer will be informed of the decision and given further advice as appropriate.

Assessment may include information gathering from parents, families and others involved in the child's life and building on what is already known about the child from other agencies such as education and social work.

Assessment can include:

  • understanding of spoken language and body language
  • expression through speaking and body language
  • production and use of sounds
  • ability to use language in a social context
  • play skills
  • eating, drinking and swallowing

 This may include formal and informal assessment such as observation.  SALT will then work with home and school to best support the child based on the outcome of their assessment.


Sensory integration therapy is based on the idea that some children experience “sensory overload” and are oversensitive to certain types of stimulation. When children have sensory overload, their brains have trouble processing or filtering many sensations at once. Meanwhile, others are undersensitive to some kinds of stimulation. Those who are undersensitive don’t process sensory messages quickly or efficiently. These children may seem disconnected from their environment. In either case, children with sensory integration issues struggle to organize, understand and respond to the information they take in from their surroundings.

Sensory integration therapy exposes children to sensory stimulation in a structured, repetitive manner. The theory behind this treatment approach is that, over time, the brain will adapt and allow them to process and react to sensations more efficiently. Supporters of this therapy say it can help children learn and pay attention more efficiently too.

Sensory Integration Therapy at Merefield takes place when pupils are identified as having significant sensory processing issues. Sensory integration activities are put into place throughout the school day to enable the pupil in question to regulate and be more able to take part in activities. These activities are tailored to the pupils likes and dislikes and are adapted regularly.

Children who struggle regulating their sensory input will often have a Sensory Plan written for them so staff all know what key things needs to happen for the child to manage their sensory needs during their school day


During a Sensology ™ workout we emphasise sensory stimulation, covering the five basic senses; see, hear, touch, smell, taste and the movement related sensory systems; vestibular and proprioception. Following an introductory song and use of a mirror to identify ourselves, we put to work each of the senses with a range of stimuli linking to the current topic. For example, when awakening the ‘smell’ sense, we would say ‘I have a nose to smell, Pupil has a nose to smell’ indicating where the nose is and building anticipation of smells. We would then present at least two different smells whilst encouraging and comparing reactions. Pupils are encouraged to communicate their likes and dislikes for the different resources used. Sensology ™ sessions are repeated weekly to enable anticipation and to gauge consistency of responses from the pupils. 


'Story Massage' involves the use of simple movements (given through clothes), associated with words that help to build up an engaging and interactive story. Tracing a large circle on a child's back, for example, can depict the image of the world.  Story massage is most effective when it takes place in a relaxed and comfortable environment, on a 1:1 basis. Pupils enhance their listening skills over time, and through the use of repetitive and familiar movements on the upper body can become familiar with a story, poem or song.. Some of the benefits of story massage include; Improved calmness and concentration, increased self-confidence, self-awareness and self-esteem, improved social skills, increased engagement in activities and improved communication skills.


Tacpac® is a revolutionary activity pack that combines touch and music to promote communication and social interaction, sensory, neurological and emotional development.

TAC PAC at Merefield is part of the timetable for many of our pupils, it is tailored specifically to their needs and staff are sensitive to the pupil’s likes and dislikes throughout each session. It promotes communication through the joint attendance of different tactile objects and allows pupils to engage in social interactions with staff. Each TAC PAC session follows an identical format to allow pupils to understand what is happening next over a period of time. 


The TEACCH method was developed by researchers who wanted a more effective and integrated approach to helping individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). TEACCH is an evidence-based academic program that is based on the idea that autistic individuals are visual learners, so teachers must correspondingly adapt their teaching style and intervention strategies.