Meet Coco – our pupils’ best friend
To help celebrate World Autism Awareness Day 2021, 2 April, and raise awareness, we would like to introduce one of our pupils’ favourite staff members at our specialist school, Inscape House School - Coco. A gorgeous Shih Tzu support dog who has been an invaluable member of the transitions team since 2019.
At Inscape House School, we break down barriers to learning for children with autism, and we support young people from Year 1 to Year 14.
We also understand that animals can support students if they are having a difficult time and give our students courage, confidence and companionship. Inscape House School is lucky enough to have Coco, who is an essential member of our transitions team.
Natalie Ellis, Transitions Co-ordinator at the school and Coco’s owner, shares:
Although not all students have timetabled sessions with Coco proactively, she is often a good distraction to pupils who do not regularly spend time with her and display self-injurious behaviours. And as Natalie says,
“Coco has on occasion been used reactively when a young person has been in crisis and been offsite with a risk of them self harming. Coco was able to distract that young person and provide emotional support by sitting calmly and allowing the young person to focus on her. The young people know they have to be safe with the dog, so they stop displaying that self-injurious behaviour.”
She has just started sessions with two pupils:
“The first one will go for a walk with Coco, which is time for him to self regulate away from the demand of the class. Whereas the second pupil is coming over to a therapy room and sits with Coco for a cuddle and strokes her. This pupil is very anxious and has selective mutism. Previously Coco's sessions have included students from lower school outside and playing with a ball with her. These students have low self-esteem and seem to really benefit from the interaction with Coco”, Natalie shares.
Although autism is a condition that influences each individual differently, having Coco benefits all our pupils and is a good friend they share in both difficult moments but also happy ones.