Solved!!

Miraculously Google cured it all and quite quickly too! Gmail senminefield@gmail.com is up and running!!

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Gmail Hacked :(

Not really the post I was planning. My Gmail account senminefield@gmail.com was hacked and deleted at some point yesterday. I’m upset to say the least and not just because I’ve spent an hour trying to find a way to recover it with no joy whatsoever. Please feel free to contact me via Twitter @senminefield for the time being. Apologies if you’re not on Twitter, though I would think about it if you have children with SEN as the support on here is fantastic.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments Off

Special School vs Mainstream Pros and Cons?

Well, here’s the deal. This question was asked on Twitter lately. I have a teenager with autism in mainstream secondary and an 11 year old with autism who has just started in a specialist autism school, after 6 trying years in mainstream primary. With this in mind, I felt qualified to give some pros and cons but couldn’t in 140 characters so I decided to blog about it instead!

I will start by saying, in my experience and those of my friends and people I follow on Twitter, mainstream primary education for a child on the autistic spectrum SUCKS. Apologies for the unprofessional tone but it really does suck, for the child and the parent(s). I would also venture to say that it also sucks for those children with a specific learning difficulty, such as dyslexia and dyspraxia, because primary schools especially and Local Authorities are generally loath to test and diagnose for these. The amount of children that I know who struggled throughout mainstream primary (I have SEN experience and knowledge of most of our local schools) then were diagnosed with a specific learning difficulty as soon as they started mainstream secondary is too high a number to be a mere coincidence.

I shall stick with what I know best though, autism. Mainstream primary schools are a horrific environment for an autistic child for these reasons and probably more:

Mainstream primary schools are busy, noisy and over decorated. Indeed they are a sensory-overload minefield that autistic children have to navigate every day before they even start to learn.

Every term there are upsets to the timetable. These are occasions that NT children are meant to find fun, including but not limited to school trips, sports days, school plays (auditions, rehearsals, performances), class assemblies (indeed normal, run of the mill daily assemblies) and the run up to religious festivals such as Easter, Harvest, Christmas. All of these have deeply disturbed my two auties to the point of “bad behaviour”, school refusal, meltdowns and exclusion.

Teachers, through no fault of their own (though it wouldn’t hurt to read up on autism a bit with 1:86 children diagnosed) are not trained enough about autism. Although the SEN Code of Practice says that all teachers are special educational needs teachers (when I read that I laughed and laughed… hysterically, I might add, before crying) in reality they are not. They do not have enough training to be so. So our SEN children, who already learn differently to NT children, face the challenge of not only being differently able but being taught in a manner that doesn’t suit their needs.

It is no wonder then, that us SEN parents despair at mainstream primary school and the schools fail our children. If I had my time over, I would home school my two auties, though would have to research thoroughly a transition to secondary.

How about a special school? I hear you ask… Well, having researched many special schools for DS4 because I was so worried about mainstream secondary school for him, I noticed that many of them will review a place once a pupil is achieving Level 3s. DS2 was never a candidate for special school given he was achieving well academically. Even DS4 was achieving Level 3s in Year 6. Both of them were suffering acutely from anxiety in their last years at primary, resulting in school refusal for them both and horrific meltdowns then exclusion for DS2 but were making progress. Whether it was “fulfilling their potential” as the SEN Code of Practice preaches is debatable, especially for DS4. However, neither would have been considered for a special school. If, for argument’s sake they would have been, I would have had to ask the LA for an early annual review then ask for a special school to be named on the statement. Then I would have had to persuade the LA to agree or go to SENDIST over it, options that can be fraught with difficulty, isolation and stress that you have never yet experienced.

Well, how come DS4 is in a special school now? Strictly speaking he isn’t. At the SENDIST hearing one of the judges suggested that what I am about to say is merely a matter of semantics. DS4 is at a specialist school for children with autism. It is a free school and I had to get it named on his statement in order for him to go there. The LA disagreed, hence the SENDIST hearing. Luckily SENDIST went my way and DS4 scraped in at the last minute.

The difference so far is amazing. After just over a week, his self esteem is noticeably improving. Luckily, I can’t remember the last time he was thumping his head repeatedly or banging it against the wall/sofa/whatever was near saying, “I’m so thick, I’m so thick” over and over. I know it’s early days but not once has he tried to get out of going to school. Even though it is an early start because he has a 45-ish minute taxi drive, he has been ready on time every morning and ran out of the door with enthusiasm that I have never previously seen. He is happy and chirpy when he comes home. It’s bringing tears to my eyes just writing about the difference that the right schooling is making.

I’m not saying it’s perfect. If you want some “cons” there are children there with challenging behaviour and he has to learn to deal with this, especially hard being an internaliser, having a severe dislike of shouting and people breaking the rules. In fact, one of the LA’s arguments was that there wouldn’t be suitable role models for DS4. However, with the right educational environment, specialist teachers and other quieter children like Edward around, I think challenging behavioural episodes from those pupils will become fewer and further between. Also, there is only one girl in the secondary part of the school so far. However, these “cons” blend into insignificance given the pros, which are too many to mention.

Ok… on to DS2 and mainstream secondary. Having been excluded in his last 3 weeks of mainstream primary thus missing his transition to secondary school, I worked as hard as I could with the SEN department of the secondary school to do our own transition. I knew from friends’ experiences with the SEN department that it was/is a good, if not excellent, one. Not perfect but definitely better than good! It is at least as good as the secondary autism resource unit for our area which neither DS2 or DS4 were considered for. Perhaps it is even better because the resource unit is in a school twice the size of the one DS2 is in now.

I would not have considered a special or specialist school for DS2 nor would he have wanted to go to one. DS2′s coping mechanism for life since his primary school exclusion has been to appear like everyone else. I suspect that this has become a bit exhausting and he has turned to what he likes best about school… studying. Everyone tries to understand him and work with him and me. I have only had to pull up the school a couple of times and each time I have been met with apologies and a willingness to learn from the SEN department. Individual teachers’ understanding can be patchy but hasn’t caused problems like I had in primary school.

The secondary school environment is more favourable to autistic children in that it doesn’t have the dreaded daily or class assemblies nor so many disruptions to the timetable throughout the year. I can only think of sports day so far and some good but not too frequent school trips. DS2 even managed the residential trip to Germany and is looking forward to a residential History trip to France next year. He took two GSCEs this year, at the end of Year 9, and earned Bs in both.

DS2 has good role models (and some bad!) and his learnt behaviour means he fits himself in where he wants to be. He has had “girlfriends” as there is a normal boy/girl mix but at the moment is more into studying.

I felt bad saying to DS2′s school that I was going to tribunal because I didn’t want DS4 to go there. What I said to them was that it wasn’t because of the SEN department or the school but it was because of DS4 and his needs. They understood and even though they had to be on the LA’s side at tribunal to try to prove they could meet DS4′s needs, we still have as good a relationship as we had before.

For now I consider myself really lucky. I can send my auties off to school and not have think about them until they come home, just like I have always been able to do with my NTs. The weight off my shoulders and the difference it has made to my life is indescribable.

I hope this has gone some way towards answering your question Twitter…

Posted in Special Educational Needs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

For those that are wondering…

I imagine that some of you may be wondering why I am concentrating on the current SEN law when it is due to change in the near future, commencing September 2014.

Apart from the fact that it is what I know, here is an excellent blog post from IPSEA to explain why:

IPSEA on SEN Reforms

On another post from the same blog, IPSEA state and I quote:

IPSEA would not recommend that any parent waits for the new system to come into force before they request an assessment of their child’s needs. If you have evidence that they need more and/or different support than that provided by the pre-school/school they currently or will soon attend, go ahead and ask now.” 

I hope that these signposts are useful. I am planning to complete IPSEA’s online course in the near future to add to my knowledge gained from experience. Obviously this will help me personally but I also want to be able to be more informative for any SEN parents reading this blog.

As always, please feel free to email me if there is anything you want to ask or if there is any help that you would like.

Posted in Special Educational Needs | Tagged , , | Comments Off

Quick post about the SEN Code of Practice

I was going to write a longer post about the SEN Code of Practice but

a) my laptop was in the repair shop for so long I forgot most of it;

b) I expect I shall refer to it so often that anything I was going to write will be widely repeated over time…

When I first heard of the SEN Code of Practice, I looked it up online. This was many years ago, just as broadband was becoming the norm. Therefore, I could look up where to get it from, check that it was free and that I was allowed to have it (I was so worried that being a mere parent I wouldn’t be allowed) but I had to get it posted to me… I know, how archaic!

The best thing that came of this was that not only did I get the SEN Code of Practice itself but a huge SEN Toolkit. This breaks down every section of the SEN Code of Practice and gives guidance as to how SENCOs, teachers and LAs etc should use it. It has been enormously helpful in preparing parental representations and challenging DS4′s statement at tribunal. I have just checked if it is still available. It is but unfortunately it has now been archived (see the link above). However, you can download it and I think it is still worth doing, especially if your SEN child is on the autistic spectrum. There are many examples in it of how a statement can meet the non-educational needs of a child on the spectrum.

When I was doing my parental representation for DS2′s statutory assessment, I phoned many people for advice – The National Autistic Society’s Education Helpline (as it stood then), ACE Education, IPSEA and they all said, among other advice, that as DS2 was doing ok educationally, I would have to be really specific about why he needed a statement and what it would do for him. I panicked then because even though my gut instinct was screaming at me that he needed a statement, I had no idea how I should put that into words. The SEN Code of Practice and the Toolkit had it in black and white and without it, DS2 wouldn’t have a statement now. He took two GSCEs this Summer, in Year 9 and achieved a B in each, so it was worth it!

It also has a glossary of all the SEN jargon. To get anywhere in SEN you will need to know what the jargon means and be able to use it, so all in all the SEN Code of Practice was invaluable on the first part of my journey through the SEN minefield and has been ever since.

Posted in Special Educational Needs | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

Learning Disability Week 2013 – My Superheroes

I was only going to use this blog as a SEN information blog and apart from when my experiences warranted me mentioning my family, I was not going to blog specifically about them. I must stress that I have no problem with people who do. I admire them for openly and honestly sharing difficult life experiences either about themselves or their family. It helps many people to know that they are not alone in what they are going through and blogs often alleviate the isolation that accompany difficult times.

I digress… With the launch of Learning Disability Week 2013 by Mencap,  which ties in with the subject of SEN, I wanted to say a little bit about my superheroes, who are, as you can probably guess, my family and one specific friend. No pictures of them I’m afraid but I am welling up at the thought of what I am about to say so, hopefully, words will be enough.

My Mum - She has been there for me. The boys’ dad rarely was and she filled his shoes. She helped me take the boys to theme parks, normal parks, swimming (even though, like me and my two sons with autism, she hates getting her face wet and swimming in general), water parks, adventure playgrounds, ball pits, museums, zoos, Thomas the Tank days out… you mention it, she helped me take the children there year after year after year. Even when the meltdowns started, she stoically carried on until I called time on the outings because no-one was coping with them. She has looked after them for me when I was in hospital having each baby (apart from DS3 but only because she was then having daily radiation treatments for breast cancer) and the two times I was rushed to hospital with the same mystery illness. She has had them at her house so I could have an occasional night off and she has looked after them here or at her house when I have gone out to let my hair down, even for long weekends and half of my honeymoon! Just this weekend I found a toy pumpkin that she made with DS1 many moons ago. It reminded me how, whenever we went to visit at one stage, she helped the boys who were old enough make something on the sewing machine, usually cuddly toys she had prepared earlier! I had forgotten all about that until I had to explain to DH where the pumpkin had come from. As the big outings stopped, she took the boys one or two at a time to London – on the London Eye, tourist buses, Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum and so forth. Without her my boys would not have done any of these things and despite the meltdowns that they sometimes brought on, their lives would have been lesser for it. More recently she paid for the EP assessment of DS4, without which I would not have won my tribunal and DS4 would be going to mainstream secondary school instead of the lovely school that is now named on his statement. She did this without a quibble and knowing that I may never be able to pay it back… at least not for a very long time. Even though she has now passed the baton onto DH she still does everything she can for us. Thank you Mum.

My Dad - my dad moved to the coast when my parents divorced. He lives in a studio type apartment which is probably the size of my front room or maybe a bit bigger. Despite the size of this and his self aspie dx he had me and the boys to holiday at his nearly every year until I met DH. It sometimes wasn’t easy as everyone’s routine was disrupted, with all the problems this brings for those on the autistic spectrum. We often had to leave a night or two earlier than planned because people weren’t coping but staying with Dad gave us the flexibility to be able to do this. In fact I don’t think we could have stayed anywhere else.  But as it was, we had holidays on a lovely harbour beach which was safer than other long stretches of beach. We had rocks to explore and the comfort of every holiday being the same. My boys were introduced to having coke (not DS4 who hates fizzy drinks!) and crisps at the pub as a treat and learnt how to behave there. My dad is a big enough person to have learnt more about himself through my boys and I think, has accepted himself more and found some peace knowing that he is like his grandsons, daughter and 1:80 other people in the UK. He has never treated the boys like children particularly and they respect him and love him for this. DS2 especially loves the fact that he could be like Grandad (indeed, it is only because I said that Grandad may also be like him that he begrudgingly accepted his diagnosis of autism) and could if he wanted, ask him all the questions that I don’t have the answer to. Even when we holidayed near Dad last year, so that we could see him without being on top of him, all the boys wanted to do was go to their usual places and see Grandad. Thank you Dad.

My BFF – words fail me here. She is my rock. My heroine. My guide. My mentor. My guardian angel. She has gone through the same as me and more and has always been there for me. She guided me through the separation from my boys’ dad and without her insight and advice at that time I would be in a sorrier place now, if I was here at all! She has saved me from myself more times than I can remember, even when / especially when I haven’t asked her and it’s only in retrospect that I have understood why she did what she did and could thank her. She reminds me of karma when I want to go for someone’s throat and she is always right about that… it really works! She has made me belly laugh when I’m down and made me go to the doctors when things got too much. We are soul mates, finish each others’ sentences and understand each other when our words don’t come out right. We share our children’s quirks and openly laugh about them. I love her dearly and only hope I am as good a friend to her as she is to me.

DH – what can I say? He met me, fell in love with me and accepts my sons for what and who they are. He even married me and took on my sons as if they were his own because they are a part of me.  His touch on my forehead takes away my stress, his hugs are like safety from the storm and he gets me. He makes me laugh like a giggly girl.  The most heroic thing DH does is that he says sorry when he’s wrong. Sometimes even when he’s not but he knows “sorry” will make it right. He is my love and I’m glad I went through the wrong ‘uns because it means I can totally treasure him for the knight in shining armour he is.

DS2 –  the one who taught me about meltdowns!! He is one of the most determined (yes that includes stubborn too…) people I have ever met. We have struggled. We have gone head to head (never works but still happens!) He got himself through primary school by sheer teeth gritting determination in spite of the help he received not because of it. When he was excluded in his last three weeks of primary school he was beside himself at first but when I refused to send him back his relief was tangible and we had the most treasured three weeks together that I can remember. His sense of humour, when he gets it right, is so dry sometimes I have to do a double take that it is him who has said it. He used to want to be like everyone else and studied people and mimicked people to try and fit in. However, now he has accepted himself for who he is.  He has found his niche and that is he wants to study, do well in his exams and go to Oxford University. You know, with his determination (stubbornness…) I do believe he can. My pride in this hero, who has pulled himself up by his own bootstraps through sheer will and determination, knows no bounds.

DS3 – my most quirky NT! Poor DS3 stuck between his two autie brothers! A middle child and then some…  He can kick off like nobody’s business. His world falls apart when his routines or plans change (sound familiar??) and I can see myself in him so much that he is like a mini-me at times. But underneath all of this he has the biggest, softest heart. He is the most caring, emotional superhero I have ever met and his superhero loyalty is limitless. He is a bit of a charmer too – “You only look 30 Mum”….

DS4 – where do I start??? This superhero is like a dynamo. He never switches off. His imagination is bubbling all the time. He brings joy wherever he goes (unless it’s near his brothers!) He gives and asks for the biggest squeezes and always tells me how much he loves me, even if I have just said, “WHAT???” after he has called my name for the nth time. His directness and honesty is his secret superpower in disarming you and making you see things totally differently, usually his way! His vocabulary is immense but he doesn’t yet understand everything he says or hears. Again a disarming superpower. His obsessions carve out a meaning to his life and he is expert at cajoling for things he obsessively wants. He is a superhero, he embodies superhero-ness by his very nature. He even has a cape or two…

You may have noticed DS1 is missing from this list. This is not because he is not on it. It is because I am saving the best for last. (Apologies everyone else…)

DS1 – my rock. When the boys’ dad left he became the man of the house. He was 10. I didn’t want him to or ask him to but he naturally assumed the mantle. He gives respect where it is due and witholds it when it is not. He is strong: physically, emotionally and psychologically. To watch him with DS4 melts my heart, to see this strong nearly-a-man being so gentle and understanding. He brings DS2 & DS3 in line in a male way that I could never do and they look up to him. They couldn’t have a better role model. When I had a phone call from school complaining about his attitude to some teachers, I told them how he was at home and how proud I was of him, that they should look at the bigger picture of his difficult life with 3 younger brothers, two of whom being on the spectrum and they never phoned me again. His latest superhero action is to write a list of things that need doing around the house (it’s quite long) and he is going to try to do them all… Proud doesn’t encompass how I feel.

Posted in Learning Disability Week 2013 | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

KEEP EVERYTHING

This is just a quick post as my laptop is at the laptop doctors and I can’t do a proper post without it!

This thought has been bugging me for days though and I had to get it down “on paper” as it were.

It is imperative that you keep every single thing written about your child. Every report, minutes of every meeting if there are any (if not from now on insist that there is a minute taker or ask permission to record meetings), any letters or emails that you write or receive, school reports, SATs results, just EVERYTHING. If you feel that you are missing some, see if your LA or school can email / send you copies. Failing that you can ask to see everything about your child using the Freedom of Information Act. I have only read about this briefly but will research it again and give more details in another post. Please feel free to remind me!

The reason this is so important is that if you ever have the misfortune of getting as far as SENDIST about a current Statement of SEN, they will ask for a copy of the original statement plus copies of ALL of the appendices on the current one.

I know I mentioned much more than the appendices in the previous paragraph. Depending on the integrity of your LA or school it is entirely possible that you will need these for evidence at some point, not necessarily for SENDIST but in case of other disagreements about provision etc.

So not only are you a SEN parent, you also have to be a record keeper extraordinaire. The more information you have about your child, the “easier” it will be for you or a representative to get the best special educational provision for them.

Posted in Special Educational Needs | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

Please check my subscription button works!!

I’ve done it!! I’ve worked out the subscription button and RSS Feed subscriber! It took ages as I was trying to do it the easy way, eg use the widget provided by blog.com but it didn’t work. Plan B was to use the html widget instead. It worked first time! Please try it out and let me know here or on Twitter if it works :)

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Please learn from my mistakes…

Before I go on any more about the SEN Code of Practice, let me take a moment to point out two of my mistaken beliefs that have cost me time and my sons support.

You may have noticed in my previous post, whenever I used the word expert I also used inverted commas. The reason for this is as follows. There are two important lessons to learn:

1. The Local Authority and their SEN team are NOT experts.

The Local Authority and their SEN team (with some exceptions. I have met a couple of exceptional and very frustrated members of that team) are keepers of the public purse nothing more and nothing less (in my opinion and without prejudice). It is their job to educate your child at the lowest possible cost to the authority. Even though the SEN Code of Practice is full of enabling SEN children “to fulfil their potential”, part of the Education Act 1996 is that this is to be done:

with the provision of efficient instruction and training and the avoidance of unreasonable public expenditure.

Another part of the Education Act 1996 states the same but in different wording and for use in different circumstances:

Where a child who has special educational needs is being educated in [F17a community, foundation or voluntary school]or a maintained nursery school, those concerned with making special educational provision for the child shall secure, so far as is reasonably practicable and is compatible with—

(a)the child receiving the special educational provision which his learning difficulty calls for,

(b)the provision of efficient education for the children with whom he will be educated, and

(c)the efficient use of resources,

Therefore, if they can get away with not statementing, statementing with the least amount of hours or educating in mainstream provision (rather than specialist provision) they will try to do this.

There is nothing in education law that the special educational provision being made must be in the best interests of the child.

Again, in my opinion and without prejudice, special educational provision is governed by expenditure and the policy of inclusion – inclusion being the cheapest option. Local Authorities seem to me to rely on parents not knowing their rights, the SEN Code of Practice or education law to get the cheapest education for SEN children. It is essential therefore, to know the SEN Code of Practice (or someone who does. PLEASE feel free to email me, address at the top of the page!) It is also essential to go through every detail of correspondence from the Local Authority and challenge EVERY LITTLE THING that seems wrong. They do seem to rely on parents not challenging. MAKE A FUSS. It works.

2. Teachers and SENCO’s are NOT experts.

Some teachers I have been in contact with as I have been on this SEN learning curve have no idea of the SEN Code of Practice. Some don’t even know about the statementing process eg School Action, School Action Plus then if those don’t, work applying for a statement. Even though the SEN Code of Practice states

“All teachers are teachers of children with special educational needs” (it is actually in italics in the SEN Code of Practice!)

in my experience they are not trained enough to be so.

Teacher training seems lacking in SEN and autism parents have been lobbying for many years for autism to be part of teacher training because there is unlikely to be a class without an autistic child. The SENCO is also not an expert in SEN, though should have better knowledge of the SEN Code of Practice than your average teacher. It is also very important to remember that teachers in your child’s school are employed by the LA and as such, except in very special circumstances with very special teachers, are on their side. Believe me, there are sides. Please do not presume everyone is acting in the best interest of your child… see above.

Before I have a huge backlash from teachers, I have met a few exceptional teachers on my SEN journey. They have tried to understand my sons’ needs and some have been naturally gifted in dealing with them. I respect the job that teachers are trying to do and if I am wrong about any SEN training, please comment and let me know. I know SEN parents can be the parents from hell but we are only trying to get the best for our children. Please try to understand that when you are dealing with us.

So, those two lessons are now learnt. The only person acting in the best interest of your child is you. The only expert on your child is you. What you need to know to fight for your child’s best interests is in the … guess what… SEN Code of Practice!


Posted in Special Educational Needs | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Before I had the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice

I mentioned in my last post how much a parent of a SEN child or even a parent who suspects they may have a child with SEN, needs the SEN Code of Practice . I cannot stress this enough.

When my eldest son with autism was at nursery, I watched his nursery teacher apply to the Local Authority for what was then known as Stage Three Funding (I think..It was a long time ago!) three times and get refused three times. At this stage he had been identified as having a social communication difficulty but even though we all thought autism, he did not get a formal diagnosis until he was about 6 . *Insert a blog about getting a diagnosis of autism here…* I left the matter in her hands because she was a lovely lady and I believed she was the “expert” and that she knew what she was doing. I was so grateful that she was trying to get help for my son and not kicking him out of nursery for his behaviour. I had no idea of the rights I had as a parent or of the role I could play in getting him the help he needed.

On transition to Reception (as it was known then, now it would be Foundation II I think) this lovely teacher applied to the LA for a Statement of Special Educational Needs for my son. I had no idea of what it was. I wasn’t even sure if I wanted my son to have one. I wanted my son to be normal and surely, if he had a Statement that would mean he was not? The difficulties of suspecting and coming to terms with any disability is a whole other blog subject that I will only ever touch on here. I remembered the teasing and segregation/isolation that “special needs” children used to get when I was at school and the derogatory way the term was and still is used. I understand from Twitter that Americans at the moment take offence to people using the word “retard” in a similar way. Did I really want my son to be one of those “special needs” children?

When the Local Authority wrote me a letter with their decision that they would not be giving my son a Statement, my first and biggest feeling was relief. Having all the information that they had on my son, they had decided, in their ultimate wisdom, that he did not need a Statement. They were the “experts” after all so they must have known what they were doing.

However, one conversation with an acquaintance whose child had a statement at that time, stuck in my mind and will stay there forever, although it’s probably not verbatim! I gave her my news that my son hadn’t been given a Statement and before I could tell her what a relief it was that “experts” had decided he didn’t need one, she said:

“You have to contest it, you really must. They always turn people down first time but if you contest it and make a fuss they might change their mind. It’s so important. I didn’t know for (her son) so he didn’t get his Statement until his last year at Primary and then it was too late” *Insert another blog about early intervention here…*

I remember doing a pretty good impression of a goldfish after her impassioned plea but had already made up my mind that the “experts” knew best and I was going to let their decision stand.

So it was that my son started Reception. The school gave him two hours of 1:1 support every day, ironically I suppose, from their general SEN budget, for the first half term to help him settle. When that was taken away his behaviour, which was a result of his autism, went from bad to worse. He would struggle all the way to school, hitting and kicking me and/or refusing to move. He was disruptive in class, he had meltdowns, he was violent towards other pupils and ended up striking his teacher in Year 1 because the teacher had tried to move him from his place in the line when they were lining up to leave the class room. As with many autistic children, he had to either lead or end a line. With no formal diagnosis and the limited help & understanding at a mainstream school that goes with one, no-one realised how important this was to him or that it was to do with his disability. I was told by the teacher that I was lucky he hadn’t had my son excluded.

Luckily (?) this incident led to my son jumping the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) waiting list and getting his diagnosis of autism in less than a week. It also led to me going to the Head Teacher to ask her to reinstate his 1:1 support. That is when she told me the school couldn’t afford to do that without a Statement and told me that it was my right as a parent to apply for one.

Thus begun my unsignposted journey into the minefield of Special Educational Needs where I left the “experts” behind and was soon to find my guide, the SEN Code of Practice.

Posted in Special Educational Needs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments