‘Incredible successes’ on city’s new autism programme

A new programme created by specialist teachers and health professionals in Brighton & Hove to help children with autism is proving a massive success, with schools across the city and beyond queuing up for their unique training programme.

The success of the ‘Just Right’ programme lies in its use of colour ‘zones’ to help children understand the emotions they are experiencing and how they can go about positively managing them. Each zone relates to a different sensory or emotional state.

The programme aims to help children understand and communicate how they are feeling and what makes them feel ‘just right’ – for example, when they are calm and alert and able to respond to whatever is happening in their environment.

The four colour zones are:

  • Green is ‘just right’ – calm, alert and focused
  • Orange is ‘fizzy’ – bubbling, not calm, anxious, possibly hyper alert
  • Blue is ‘floppy or fidgety’ – under-stimulated, tired, bored, not alert, possibly feeling ill
  • Red is ‘crisis’ – unable to cope, exhibiting challenging behaviour wanting to run away, shutting down from the outside world

The colour coding replaces the need to use a lot of very complex words to describe emotions – words which, to children with autism, can seem woolly, confusing or even worrying.

Specialist teachers work with individual children and their parents to understand, from the child’s point of view, what each colour zone looks like to the child.

They also look at what the triggers are that take the child from one zone to another, and what can be done to help keep them stay in the green zone as much as possible.

This might be things like:

  • making sure they have the same seat every day
  • making sure they get a short burst of exercise to either calm them down if they’re in the orange zone, or wake them up if they’re slumping into the blue zone
  • giving them a quiet, calm, blank safe space to retreat to when they are over-stimulated or in the red zone.

The lead specialist for autism in Brighton & Hove’s inclusion support service is Sadie Gillett. She said:

“The brilliant thing about ’Just Right’ is that it is absolutely tailored to the individual child. Each child will have their own particular set of circumstances that keep them feeling just right.”

“Parents and carers can also use the tools and strategies we develop, which gives a consistent approach across children’s lives.”

“We’ve had some incredible success stories. It’s beginning to make a significant difference in our schools, and a number of parents have told us it’s making a real difference to their lives.”

For more information about the Just Right programme, please:

  • contact your school’s special educational needs co-ordinator
  • email the Brighton & Hove Inclusion Support Service at BHISS@brighton-hove.gcsx.gov.uk or
  • contact the occupational therapy team at the city’s Seaside View child development centre on 01273 265806.