Seminar Success!

The latest thinking on dealing with Autism and ADHD in children and young people

An innovative seminar on Autism and ADHD in children and young people last week brought together leading experts, parents and those from the fields of social work, education and health.

The seminar, held at Falkland House School, attracted an audience of 80 people and was chaired by the Herald journalist Stephen Naysmith. Speakers at the event included writer and educational consultant Bill Colley and internationally renowned scientist Dr Alex Richardson, who discussed the effect of nutrition on behaviour, learning and mood in relation to ADHD, dyslexia, depression and schizophrenia.

Gillian Taylor, whose son was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 5 and currently attends Falkland House School, also spoke about the difficulties she faced when trying to find a school which supported her as well as her child.

Speaking after the event Stuart Jacob, Director of Falkland House School, said;

“I would like to thank everyone who attended the seminar, especially the event’s speakers. I’m delighted that the day proved so popular – I think we could have held three seminars with the level of interest we’ve received.

“The speakers were fantastic and provided real insight into Autism and ADHD, including the causes of these complex conditions and how to deal with the often resultant challenging behaviour.”

“We were thrilled to be able to hold the seminar at Falkland House School and we are now actively looking to organise more events in the future.”

Falkland House School specialises in the education of boys who require additional support. As the first independent school in Scotland to be awarded Autism Accreditation by the National Autistic Society, it provides special integrated education to boys with ASD, as well as those with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties, ADHD and Tourette’s Syndrome.

Young People Need Help to Reach Full Potential

In the Scotsman Newspaper this week 29th Aug 2013;

THIS week the Scottish Government is undertaking its “Make Young People Your Business” campaign, aimed at raising awareness amongst employers of the economic value of taking on a young person and the various incentives on offer to do this.

At a time when youth unemployment rates are high, this focus on getting young people into work is important. Latest statistics indicate that while total unemployment nationally fell to 7.2 per cent, the rate for those aged between 16 and 24 is 19.1 per cent.

During an economic recession it is the most vulnerable who suffer the worst and we have a collective responsibility as a society to give them the opportunity to realise their full potential. Most adversely affected by youth unemployment are those young people with learning difficulties and disabilities, as well as those with care experience.

The rewards for getting these young people into work are well worth it, ensuring that they make a positive contribution to society.

While the Scottish Government’s guarantee that all 16 to 19-year-olds will be offered education, training or an apprenticeship, the honest truth is that thousands of disadvantaged young people we work with are simply not in a position to take advantage of the opportunities.

As an example, less than a quarter (23 per cent) of all those aged 16 and over with learning difficulties or disabilities are in employment. However, the rewards of getting these young people – many of whom boast excellent skills – into work are well worth it with higher loyalty and retention rates.

A greater holistic approach combining financial resources as well as targeted support is vital in assisting these individuals to take up employment, as well as while they are in employment. In this respect, we welcome the various initiatives the Scottish Government has embarked on to date.

Such support has the potential to ensure businesses can thrive, especially in the sectors where we are currently facing a skills shortage, and as a coalition we urge Scotland’s employers to play their part, look beyond the label and examine the skills and talents of the individual.

• Stuart Jacob is director of Falkland House School, representing the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition

Link to original article



Autism Seminar

Free Seminar– the latest thinking on dealing with Autism, ADHD and Tourette’s in children and young people

Thursday 3rd October, Falkland House School, Falkland, Fife

9.30am for 10.00am start, finishing at 1pm. Lunch provided.

This seminar is a must for anyone dealing with children and young people with Autism, ADHD and Tourette’s Syndrome and will be hosted in the fantastic historic setting of Falkland House School in Fife.

It will bring together a number of leading experts specialising in these areas with an audience of interested parents and those from the fields of social work, education and health. Stephen Naysmith, social affairs correspondent for The Herald will chair the event.

The seminar aims to provide an update on the latest thinking on these conditions, understanding the causes and looking at techniques for dealing with these and the often challenging resultant behaviour.

Falkland House School specialises in the education of boys who require additional support. As the first independent school in Scotland to be awarded Autism Accreditation by the National Autistic Society, it provides special integrated education to boys with ASD, as well as those with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties, ADHD and Tourette’s Syndrome.

Speakers include:

Dr Alex RichardsonAlex is Senior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford and Founder Director of Food and Behaviour (FAB) Research.

She is best known for her research into how nutrition can affect behaviour, learning and mood and will share her experiences of this at the seminar. Alex is also the author of “They Are What You Feed Them”, a widely-acclaimed book written for parents and professionals that explains how and why children’s diets can affect their behaviour, learning and mood, and offers easy-to-follow practical advice based on the latest scientific evidence.

Bill Colley – Bill is a writer, teacher trainer and educational consultant.  He is currently working in local government as a Service Manager with responsibility for additional support needs, and contributes at a local level to an ADHD support group and the CAMHS Autism Assessment Pathway.  At national level, he is a member of the National Autism Strategy Reference Group (Scotland) and is a founding member of the UK ADHD Partnership (UKAP).

He will share his experiences as a specialist in improving educational outcomes for children who experience barriers to learning associated with developmental disorders and in dealing with the impacts of behaviour resulting from Autism/ADHD, the cause of this behaviour and how to manage it effectively.

To register please visit:

For further details please email: or telephone 0131 603 8996.

Please note places are limited and will be on a first come first served basis.


From Edinburgh:-

Over ForthRoadBridge

North on M90, take junction 2A, then merge onto A92 signposted (Kirkcaldy/Glenrothes)

At next four roundabouts go straight ahead

After Glenrothes, continue on A92 until next roundabout (New Inn)

Turn left on A912 – signposted ‘Falkland’

On entering Falkland continue straight on past the zebra crossing

400 yards after that turn left into East Port

Now refer to ‘In Town of Falkland’


From Glasgow via Forth Road Bridge:-

Take M8 heading for Edinburgh

At Junction 2 follow signs for ForthRoadBridge

Refer to ‘From Edinburgh instructions above’

On entering Falkland, continue on past tennis courts and round sharp right hand bend.

300 yards on from bend take first right into East Port

Now refer to ‘In Town of Falkland’


From Glasgow via Kincardine Bridge

Take M80/A80 for Stirling

At Junction 5 follow M876 for KincardineBridge

Immediately after KincardineBridge follow A977 for Crook of Devon/Kinross/St.Andrews

Just before Kinross enter onto M90 at Junction 6 following north for Perth

Exit M90 at Junction 8 signposted A91 ‘Falkland Palace/Gateside/Strathmiglo’

At Strathmiglo turn right onto A912 for Falkland

On entering Falkland, continue on past tennis courts and round sharp right hand bend.

300 yards on from bend take first right into East Port

Now refer to ‘In Town of Falkland’


From Perth:-

Southbound on M90 (Forth Road Bridge/Edinburgh)

Exit Junction 9 – signposted ‘Cupar’

Follow A912 through Glen Farg to Gateside

Turn left at Gateside on to A911(T) – signposted ‘St. Andrews’ etc.

Turn right at Strathmiglo on to A912 – signposted ‘Falkland’

On entering Falkland, continue on past tennis courts and round sharp right hand bend.

300 yards on from bend take first right into East Port

Now refer to ‘In Town of Falkland’ below.


From Dundee:-

Southbound over Tay Road Bridge on A92

At next four roundabouts go straight ahead following signs for ‘Glenrothes/Kirkcaldy’

Continue to Freuchie (a 40 mph area) where you turn right onto B936 for Falkland

On entering Falkland, continue straight on till crossroad junction (Primary school on right).

Turn right and after 500 yards turn left into East Port

Now refer to ‘In town of Falkland’ below.


In Town of Falkland:-

If using a Sat. Nav. please turn this off as you enter the village of Falkland as unfortunately they direct you away from the school.

Turn into main street (EastPort) at FalklandPalace

Pass through town centre, straight on past fountain

Follow road past  Fayre Earth Craft Shop

Continue through narrowing street for some 500 metres to ‘WestPort’

Follow road to right at junction – signposted ‘No through Road’ ‘Falkland Cricket Club’and Falkland House School

Continue through gates of Falkland Estate

Pass duck pond on your left and over 3 traffic ramps

After third traffic ramp, bear left at fork in road and follow driveway up to Falkland House School


Cars can be parked in the car park at the front of the school or to the left-hand side of the school driveway.

Please report to main reception in Falkland House School


Public Transport:

Rail to Markinch

Bus to Glenrothes

Connecting buses every hour to Falkland


Falkland House School praised in Scottish Parliament

Motion S4M-05372: Roderick Campbell, North East Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 15/01/2013

That the Parliament welcomes the announcement that Falkland House School recently received Autism Accreditation from the National Autistic Society; understands that the school participated in a self-evaluation process between January 2011 and June 2012 before the National Autistic Society undertook a formal review of the school in August 2012; understands that the school has been praised for its transition service and its ability to increase pupils’ independence and inclusion in their home localities at a later stage; further understands that, of the 11 statements for which inspections have been carried out by the Care Inspectorate recently, Falkland House School has achieved an “excellent” rating in nine, and a “very good” in two, and praises the hard work of Stuart Jacob, Director of the school, and all of the staff in providing what it considers to be an excellent level of service.

Supported by: Dennis Robertson, Liam McArthur, Graeme Dey, Richard Lyle, Kevin Stewart, Chic Brodie, Liz Smith, Nanette Milne, Joan McAlpine, Rob Gibson, Colin Beattie, Murdo Fraser, Annabelle Ewing, Bill Kidd, Maureen Watt, Jackie Baillie, Mike MacKenzie, Jamie Hepburn, Jean Urquhart, Gil Paterson, Colin Keir, Mark McDonald, David Torrance

Latest Grading from the Care Inspectorate

Please find below the grades for the 10 Quality Statements in which the school has been inspected.

We ensure that service users and carers participate in assessing and improving the quality of care and support provided by the service.

Grade:           Excellent (28/08/2012)

We ensure that service user’s health and wellbeing needs are met.

Grade:           Excellent (28/08/2012)

We ensure that service users and carers participate in assessing and improving the quality of the environment within the service.

Grade:           Excellent (28/08/2012)

We make sure that the environment is safe and service users are protected.

Grade:           Very Good (28/08/2012)

The environment allows service users to have as positive a quality of life as possible.

Grade:           Excellent (15/09/2010)

We ensure that service users and carers participate in assessing and improving the quality of staffing in the service.

Grade:           Excellent (28/08/2012)

We are confident that our staff have been recruited, and inducted, in a safe and robust manner to protect service users and staff.

Grade:           Excellent (29/01/2010)

We have a professional, trained and motivated workforce which operates to National Care Standards, legislation and best practice.

Grade:           Excellent (28/08/2012)

We ensure that service users and carers participate in assessing and improving the quality of the management and leadership of the service.

Grade:           Excellent (28/08/2012)

We use quality assurance systems and processes which involve service users, carers, staff and stakeholders to assess the quality of the service we provide.

Grade:           Very Good (28/08/2012)

View our latest report in full here


What is Autism

Definition from National Autism Society

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them.

It is a spectrum condition, which means that, while all people with autism share certain difficulties, their condition will affect them in different ways. Some people with autism are able to live relatively independent lives but others may have accompanying learning disabilities and need a lifetime of specialist support. People with autism may also experience over- or under-sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours.

Asperger syndrome is a form of autism. People with Asperger syndrome are often of average or above average intelligence. They have fewer problems with speech but may still have difficulties with understanding and processing language.

People with autism have said that the world, to them, is a mass of people, places and events which they struggle to make sense of, and which can cause them considerable anxiety.

In particular, understanding and relating to other people, and taking part in everyday family and social life may be harder for them. Other people appear to know, intuitively, how to communicate and interact with each other, and some people with autism may wonder why they are ‘different’.

The three main areas of difficulty which all people with autism share are sometimes known as the ‘triad of impairments’. They are:

  • difficulty with social communication
  • difficulty with social interaction
  • difficulty with social imagination.

All people with autism can benefit from a timely diagnosis and access to appropriate services and support.

Difficulty with social communication

For people with autistic spectrum disorders, ‘body language’ can appear just as foreign as if people were speaking ancient Greek.

People with autism have difficulties with both verbal and non-verbal language. Many have a very literal understanding of language, and think people always mean exactly what they say. They can find it difficult to use or understand:

  • facial expressions or tone of voice
  • jokes and sarcasm
  • common phrases and sayings; an example might be the phrase ‘It’s cool’, which people often say when they think that something is good, but strictly speaking, means that it’s a bit cold.

Some people with autism may not speak, or have fairly limited speech. They will usually understand what other people say to them, but prefer to use alternative means of communication themselves, such as sign language or visual symbols.

Others will have good language skills, but they may still find it hard to understand the give-and-take nature of conversations, perhaps repeating what the other person has just said (this is known as echolalia) or talking at length about their own interests.

It helps if other people speak in a clear, consistent way and give people with autism time to process what has been said to them.

Difficulty with social interaction

Socialising doesn’t come naturally – we have to learn it.

People with autism often have difficulty recognising or understanding other people’s emotions and feelings, and expressing their own, which can make it more difficult for them to fit in socially. They may:

  • not understand the unwritten social rules which most of us pick up without thinking: they may stand too close to another person for example, or start an inappropriate subject of conversation
  • appear to be insensitive because they have not recognised how someone else is feeling
  • prefer to spend time alone rather than seeking out the company of other people
  • not seek comfort from other people
  • appear to behave ‘strangely’ or inappropriately, as it is not always easy for them to express feelings, emotions or needs.

Difficulties with social interaction can mean that people with autism find it hard to form friendships: some may want to interact with other people and make friends, but may be unsure how to go about this.

Difficulty with social imagination

We have trouble working out what other people know. We have more difficulty guessing what other people are thinking.

Social imagination allows us to understand and predict other people’s behaviour, make sense of abstract ideas, and to imagine situations outside our immediate daily routine. Difficulties with social imagination mean that people with autism find it hard to:

  • understand and interpret other people’s thoughts, feelings and actions
  • predict what will happen next, or what could happen next
  • understand the concept of danger, for example that running on to a busy road poses a threat to them
  • engage in imaginative play and activities: children with autism may enjoy some imaginative play but prefer to act out the same scenes each time
  • prepare for change and plan for the future
  • cope in new or unfamiliar situations.

Difficulties with social imagination should not be confused with a lack of imagination. Many people with autism are very creative and may be, for example, accomplished artists, musicians or writers.

Characteristics of autism

The characteristics of autism vary from one person to another but as well as the three main areas of difficulty, people with autism may have:

  • love of routines
  • sensory sensitivity
  • special interests
  • learning disabilities.

Love of routines

One young person with autism attended a day service. He would be dropped off by taxi, walk up to the door of the day service, knock on it and be let in. One day, the door opened before he could knock and a person came out. Rather than go in through the open door, he returned to the taxi and began the routine again.

The world can seem a very unpredictable and confusing place to people with autism, who often prefer to have a fixed daily routine so that they know what is going to happen every day. This routine can extend to always wanting to travel the same way to and from school or work, or eat exactly the same food for breakfast.

Rules can also be important: it may be difficult for a person with autism to take a different approach to something once they have been taught the ‘right’ way to do it. People with autism may not be comfortable with the idea of change, but can cope well if they are prepared for it in advance.

Sensory sensitivity

Rowan loves art but he hates wearing a shirt to protect his clothing – the feeling of the fabric against his skin causes him distress. We have agreed with his school that he can wear a loose-fitting apron instead.

People with autism may experience some form of sensory sensitivity. This can occur in one or more of the five senses – sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. A person’s senses are either intensified (hypersensitive) or under-sensitive (hypo-sensitive).

For example, a person with autism may find certain background sounds, which other people ignore or block out, unbearably loud or distracting. This can cause anxiety or even physical pain.

People who are hypo-sensitive may not feel pain or extremes of temperature. Some may rock, spin or flap their hands to stimulate sensation, to help with balance and posture or to deal with stress.

People with sensory sensitivity may also find it harder to use their body awareness system. This system tells us where our bodies are, so for those with reduced body awareness, it can be harder to navigate rooms avoiding obstructions, stand at an appropriate distance from other people and carry out ‘fine motor’ tasks such as tying shoelaces.

Special interests

My art activity has enabled me to become a part of society. When there is something that a person with autism does well, it should be encouraged and cultivated.

Many people with autism have intense special interests, often from a fairly young age. These can change over time or be lifelong, and can be anything from art or music, to trains or computers. Some people with autism may eventually be able to work or study in related areas. For others, it will remain a hobby.

A special interest may sometimes be unusual. One person with autism loved collecting rubbish, for example; with encouragement, this was channelled into an interest in recycling and the environment.

Learning disabilities

People with autism may have learning disabilities, which can affect all aspects of someone’s life, from studying in school, to learning how to wash themselves or make a meal. As with autism, people can have different ‘degrees’ of learning disability, so some will be able to live fairly independently – although they may need a degree of support to achieve this – while others may require lifelong, specialist support. However, all people with autism can, and do, learn and develop with the right sort of support.

Other conditions are sometimes associated with autism. These may include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or learning difficulties such as dyslexia and dyspraxia.

Who is affected by autism?

Autism is much more common than most people think. There are over half a million people in the UK with autism – that’s around 1 in 100 people.

People from all nationalities and cultural, religious and social backgrounds can have autism, although it appears to affect more men than women. It is a lifelong condition: children with autism grow up to become adults with autism.

Causes and cures

What causes autism?

The exact cause of autism is still being investigated. However, research suggests that a combination of factors – genetic and environmental – may account for changes in brain development.

Autism is not caused by a person’s upbringing, their social circumstances and is not the fault of the individual with the condition.

Is there a cure?

At present, there is no ‘cure‘ for autism. However, there is a range of interventions – methods of enabling learning and development – which people may find to be helpful. Many of these are detailed at:


A diagnosis is the formal identification of autism, usually by a health professional such as a paediatrician or a psychiatrist. Having a diagnosis is helpful for two reasons:

  • it helps people with autism (and their families) to understand why they may experience certain difficulties and what they can do about them
  • it allows people to access services and support.

People’s GPs can refer them to a specialist who is able to make a diagnosis. Many people are diagnosed as children; their parents and carers can ask GPs for a referral.

Autism Accreditation

Falkland House School has become the first independent school in Scotland to be awarded Autism Accreditation by the National Autistic Society.
In order to achieve this recognition the school was tasked with providing evidence to the National Autistic Society that:

  • we have a specialist knowledge and understanding of autism.
  • the knowledge and understanding of autism consistently informs the school, the resources and management of the school.
  • the knowledge and understanding of autism consistently informs the assessment and support plans for the pupils.
  • the knowledge and understanding of autism consistently informs all aspects of practice.


Between January 2011 and June 2012 we engaged in a lengthy process of self-evaluation against the 27 standards set by experts in the field of autism. These were split into 15 core standards and 12 specialist residential school standards. This evidence was submitted to the National Autistic Society prior to the formal review of the school which took place in early August 2012. The findings of the review team were scrutinised by an independent panel in November before a final recommendation was made.
The National Autistic Society’s standards are unique in the fact that no other organisation in the world has developed such detailed and comprehensive standards for the education and care of people with autism. In a media response Dr Robert Moffat, National Director of the National Autistic Society Scotland said “The National Autistic Society Scotland welcomes news of the high quality standards achieved by Falkland House School.”
In the report written by the Award Panel the strengths of the school were highlighted as:

  • Healthcare Needs – in particular promoting healthy lifestyles
  • Transition – the detailed and person-centred approach resulting in successful transitions for pupils leaving Falkland House School
  • Community Participation – increasing pupils’ independence and supporting successful inclusion in their home locality
  • Communication – the whole-school comprehensive approach to the promotion of ‘pupil voice’.
  • The areas for development which will be included in the 2013 School Improvement Plan are:
  • Developing a School Curriculum Policy
  • Further developing the Personal Learning Plans,
  • Further extending staff’s autism knowledge and understanding
  • Increasing the use of visual support to clarify expectations for pupils and promote independence.


Robert Pritchett, the Director of Autism Accreditation, will visit the school on 23rd January 2013 to present the school with the Autism Accreditation certificate.

Creating a New Wildlife Haven

Pupils from Falkland House School were praised in the local news today for their efforts in restoring a Victorian pond which had been neglected for 150 years. Pupils assisted Fife Coast & Countryside Rangers and the Falkland Centre for Stewardship in providing a home for frogs, newts, bats and ducks. Local schools will use the pond as outdoor classroom.

Victory at Britain in Bloom Awards

The pupils from Falkland House School were amongst the young children awarded for their recent success at the Britain in Bloom Awards. As well as winning the top accolade, “champion of champions”, Falkand also scooped the Young People award.