Acato

Our Vision

Acato (Stichting Bloemfleur) was founded on the idea that there are too few places where people with autism, or related developmental disorders, can be themselves and where they can learn from their intrinsic motivation. Every young person is entitled to the opportunity to go to 'school', to learn and to live among peers. We believe that social and creative development are just as important as cognitive development. These three areas are complementary to each other. Positive social experiences are important for self-confidence. Community supports self-esteem and the feeling of being human. Creative creation is not only satisfying, it is also a means to stimulate and support cognition.

Our methodology

We work with the method of Autisme Centraal, the ACM. www.autismecentraal.com This method was developed in Belgium and is now also used in the Netherlands. The method fits well with our organisation, because the person is the starting point, and not 'the problem' or 'the disorder'. The method has 5 characteristics:
Autistic thinking: Good coaching starts with understanding. Learning to understand each other.

Basic rest: Provide adaptations in the environment so that the pupil can seek and find rest himself. 

Double track :Creating a safe environment but also teaching the pupil to have an eye for other things. What moves other people, society, what is expected of you later on. 

Individuality: In all the above-mentioned matters, the human being, and who he is, plays the most important central role. How the environment is adapted and what you learn to take into account depends on your own place in life, your character and your ambitions and motivations. 

Functionality: Ultimately, everything a pupil learns must have meaning. Be useful for his future. To lead him to an independent life, which he will start with confidence, with curiosity and also with a bit of healthy tension and above all knowing who you can rely on and where you can get help and support.

The summary above has been extracted from: http://www.autismecentraal.com/docs/ARTICLES/autismecentraalmethodiek_uitleg_site.pdf

Photo by Eagle Wings Photography

Our view on learning

Balance between autonomy, competence and relationship

Learning and development can only take place when there is a good balance between autonomy, competence and relationship. You can only develop yourself if you feel competent, if you have enough confidence in your own abilities and if you are challenged to develop at a level that suits you. Many young people who start with us have not been able to fit in with the demands of the system, so the feeling of competence must be found. What can you do well, what do you want to learn, how do you learn, what do you find important? The learning environment must provide sufficient space for autonomous thought and action. For many of our young people, autonomy is an important theme. They often set great store by their own autonomy. In previous situations, they have clung to this autonomy or have let it go completely out of self-preservation. A pleasant feeling of autonomy means that you know very well what you want and what you can (learn), but that you can and want to use the other person and your environment for this. With relationship, we mean the feeling of being allowed to be there, but also the wanting to be there, the wanting to be in contact. For the fun of it, but also to learn together and from each other. When do you feel comfortable, safe and what do you do to bring this about? 

Connecting to living environment and interests

Photo by Eagle Wings Photography
At Acato, we assume that you learn best and most easily if you can learn things that you find important or where your talents lie. We think it is important that you can learn new things at a level that suits you and in a way that suits you. Such an interest can sometimes be very specific, but it is your motivation to want to learn. Many people learn by doing, as do many pupils at Acato. That is why there are also pupils at Acato who go on work placements, for example at a care centre. We have our own shop where students can practice with everything that is involved in sales and entrepreneurship.

Your own time and space; your own structure

Above all, we assume the provision of time and space. Pupils can take the time to get used to it, take the time to discover what they want, take the time to establish relationships. In doing so, you can indicate and follow your own structure, because only your own structure really works.  

Learning to understand each other

At Acato, the counsellors adapt themselves to what you need. They want to discover who you are and create an environment that matches your interests and your talents. We want to understand you. We create the peace and space you need and find with you the learning moments you are looking for. To adapt the environment to someone in a wheelchair, or someone who is blind, that is not difficult. But to organise a pleasant learning environment for someone with autism, that is much more difficult. Autism is also called the invisible handicap. You cannot see it, but it is just as real as being deaf or blind. Just as we are prepared to understand what it is to be blind or deaf, we must be prepared to understand what it is to be autistic. 

Gaining new experiences

What you don't know, you can't want. At Acato, we try to create a sufficient supply of new activities. You never have to participate, you can (almost) always do so. New experiences broaden your view of your reality and sometimes give you new ideas for the future. New experiences are also gained outside of school. That is why we organise outings, for example to a museum, the cinema or a performance, but pupils who want to do so also go on work experience placements. We also celebrate Christmas together and regularly organise drinks parties for parents.

Acato learning community in practice

Young people and supervisors at Acato together form a learning community. Everyone learns from and with each other in a certain way: knowledge, skills, social matters - everything is covered. Ultimately, a personal schedule is created for each pupil.

Some examples

On Mondays there is CKV and Art appreciation, but also sports lessons and perspective drawing.

On Tuesdays, there is make-up and cooking, as well as maths and English, and programming. In the afternoon, some pupils take singing lessons.

On Wednesdays, pupils work on sets for the theatre, and there are dance and guitar lessons.

On Thursdays, there is digital drawing, sewing class, table tennis and work on furnishing the new library. There is also technology.

On Fridays there is maths, Dutch and sports.

Not everyone follows these lessons. If you walk in at any time, you will see a group of students working with the teacher, another student at the computer, yet another student taking a break or working independently on a subject.

Progress and development

Together with you, we set short- and long-term goals. If you are working towards an exam or a diploma, a follow-up course or returning to school, this is often easy to think about, write down and keep track of, but if you are designing your own learning route, this is more difficult. We then try to work with a (digital) portfolio in which you record what you have done and what you are working towards. At the end of each course year, you will receive an extensive report of what you have done in the past year.