Coping with feelings
The communications disorder unit at St Vincent's Primary, Carnwadric, has 22 pupils. It is a bright, colourful, friendly place, with classes of no more than six pupils.
The staff consists of a unit co-ordinator, five teachers, five special educational needs auxiliaries, a speech and language therapist and a therapy assistant.
Isobel McAlister, the unit co-ordinator, said: "Many of our children are identified in nursery school as having some sort of difficulty with communication or some sort of impairment socially." They follow an enhanced version of the 5-14 curriculum. Each child also has an independent education programme - in which parents are closely involved - charting progress in areas such as social awareness, play and self-help.
Staff teach simple strategies to identify feelings such as anger and frustration - and how to cope.
Ms McAlister said: "I would consider it a success if we can help a child to access his life, to make friends and maximise his social potential. Autism doesn't ever go away; it just changes."