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Right before I start with this I'm going to give you a bit of information about my son Michael, as this review is based on our experiences of the governments policy of insisting on the inclusion of special kids in mainstream.
Michael is now nearly seven and has a condition called Worster-Drought Syndrome, which is very complex and pretty rare (he was about the 106th child diagnosed). He has learning difficulties, behavioural difficulties, is on the autistic spectrum and has great difficulty speaking. He also suffers from severe epilepsy.
Now, my wish for Michael was that he should have the chance to goto mainstream school, therefore I sent him to a normal pre-school, along with a developmental group.
When it was time for him to goto nursery I fought for him to have a statement and attend the same school as his brothers and sisters, with support.
Fast forward several years, and he is now out of school, as the mainstream can not cope with him and as the Local Education Authority (LEA) has a policy of inclusion, they won't authorise a place for him at special school, even though it is what all the medical advice recommends.
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The Governments Idealistic View Of Schooling
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The government has an ideal, where all children can be educated in mainstream schools with whatever support they require, regardless of need.
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The Reality Of Michael's Schooling
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Michael has been in mainstream with a statement and full-time one to one since nursery, and for the first few years made wonderful progress and enjoyed school.
However, Michael has become increasingly violent and unhappy and fallen much further behind his peers. It's become a vicious circle, where he becomes more frustrated, and hits out more, and then is expelled. He's actually learnt that if he's violent he will be sent home!!!
This is not only having an effect on him, but on the other children in the class. They are disrupted, and what is the LEA's answer, to clear the class. Umm, yes that's going to make my son very popular.
Everything, came to a head last term, after a 6 day exclusion, and we decided that after all our fighting to get him into mainstream it wasn't the best place for him. So, armed with advice from the school (who said they couldn't cope), Michael's Doctors and therapists, we requested that he should attend special school. And guess what, the LEA refused, due to its policy of inclusion. So I am now attempting to teach my son at home, but I'm not an expert in Special Education, so he's not getting the best.
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The advantages of Inclusion
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* The child gets a chance to be part of the bigger community
* The chance to have peers on whom to model behaviour
* The other children learn not to be scared of people that are different,
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The disadvantages of Inclusion
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* The child may disrupt the class and become resented
* The child will NOT receive therapy as part of their school day
* Teachers may not be experienced in teaching our special kids
* The child may become isolated and feel different.
* The risk of exclusion for the behaviourally challenged child.
* Bullying this has just raised its ugly head, not only to Michael but to his older sister.
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So how do I feel
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Personally, I feel the inclusion policy is a fantastic idea, for some. However, for others like my son, who has benefited from his time in mainstream, it is not the answer. To try to force a parent to keep their child in a school, where they are not happy, for the sake of a policy is wrong.
Please don't get me wrong, there is another little girl in the same year as my son, who has done very well in mainstream, but she has physical difficulties and not the learning and behaviour issues my son has. While inclusion works for some, it's not the be all and end all of education.
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Since removing my son from the mainstream school, he is much calmer and happier. We also have a social worker who is liaising with the LEA in an attempt to get Michael into a special school.
The government says that children with special needs should be educated within mainstream schools. Many of these kids are disruptive in the classroom and have very specific behaviour problems. This has an effect on the other children in the class. Does inclusion work? Is this fair? My eldest is in year 11 and about to take her GCSE's. She is an extremely bright girl and all her mock exams indicate that she will be looking at A's and A *'s in all her subjects. We are of course very proud. I totally understand therefore that having a disruptive child in the classroom would be devastating to her and if that were the case I would of course be concerned. My second child is on the autistic spectrum. He goes to a school for children with severe disabilities and we are very happy that he is there, although saying that, the road to get him there required hiking books and ropes, if you know what I mean. My youngest son has Aspirgers Syndrome and ADHD, he goes to mainstream school and presents as severely disruptive. Apart for the guilt that I feel over the disruption he causes, there is also real anger that many of his behaviours are being misunderstood and mismanaged. My son has been labelled disruptive, disobedient and a liar. My son's perceptions are very different to other children's. He sees situations in a very different way to the way you or I would. This doesn't make him a liar, but that is the label he very often carries around with him. He finds many situations very difficult. Imagine not being able to tell by looking at someone if they are joking with you, or cross or sad. Children like James cannot do this so they very often perceive a situation to be very different from what it actually is and this makes them anxious and stressed. What do you do when you a
re stressed? These kids tend to either withdraw, many of them attempt to do this by putting something over their heads to reduce the amount of space they have to deal with, or they show symptoms of real excitement, running around the room, shouting, interrupting. Children like James have great difficulty knowing what is appropriate. For example, James doesn't know when he is talking too loud, we have to remind him. He will talk constantly when someone else is talking and we have to constantly remind him of social boundaries because he is unable to read the signals for himself. What I am trying to show is that this behaviour is often mis understood and often we perceive his behaviour wrong too. This doesn't stop the disruption and it doesn't help the other kids in the class but it might help you to see some of the problems that these kids are having. Of course often the situation is made worse by the other children who don't understand and view this behaviour as funny. So what is the answer? The government believes and says that these children should be in mainstream schools. I am sure that many parents feel that we have a choice and are digging our heels in to keep them in these schools. The truth of the matter is that we should have a choice, but we don't. Getting an educational statement for a child is very hard. I live in Nottingham and here it is nigh on impossible. This authority is closing two of its few special schools as they predict that in five years time the number of children with special needs will fall by 25%. Anyone who has experience in this field will tell you this is not true and what they mean is that they are effectively going to make it that much harder for these children to get a statement of their needs, often the only way to access special school provision. So do they support these kids properly? No, effectivel
y many of these children have to fail before they can access much of the support on offer to help them. Some schools are better than others, but from experience many of them struggle to find the cash to help these kids in the way they need. Who takes the brunt of all this?Everyone. The teachers, the other kids, my son and me, because I end up sorting the mess out when it comes home at the end of the day. Now I fought hard to get my eldest son in a special school, we strongly believed that it was the right place for him. I stand by that decision. I will, however, fight just as hard to keep my youngest son out of one, as I believe, with the right support, he can succeed in mainstream school. Whether he will be able to stay at the school he is at at the moment is debatable. There are teachers at the school that are working heroically to help him succeed, there are others who believe that my son should be in special education. There are certain structures that need to be put in place to help my child succeed, many of them cost money. This money is hard to access and without, a statement, which is a legal document, I have to rely on the school to provide the support he needs and they have to keep trying to find the money to fund it, while the money is being found my son exists, rather than succeeds in the education system and the rest of the kids in his class and the staff that teach him, pay the price. As it is, my son is constantly having to be removed from lessons, is being bullied constantly and I should think sending many a staff member home at the end of the day with a bloody big headache. Then he comes home and makes life hell for the rest of us. What can I do? I keep in touch with the school on a daily basis, I suggest ways to support him, I sit at home and worry and then when James comes home I try to help him make sense of the things
that he is so confused about and also reassure him that we are on his side. So does inclusion work? I know it does for many children and I desperately hope it can for mine. I think though that there should be a choice. Read the paperwork, read the code of practise. It will tell you that choice is there. Maybe in some authorities it is, but not in mine. Getting the education that my child has a right to is a constant struggle and one that has had me crying with both frustration and fear. Watching my son doggy paddle within the system, collecting labels that are dragging him under the water, labels like 'Idiot' 'disruptive' 'naughty' and 'ignorant' I do wonder just how close to drowning they are going to let him go before someone somewhere throws him a lifeline. What works for one child will not necessarily work for another, mainstream school is right for some, not for others. Not supporting these kids, not giving them statements to protect their rights to an education, effectively is setting them up to fail. Without support many of these kids become unwanted statistics, on league tables that already have unrealistic targets, targets that schools find difficult enough to meet, without children like mine pulling them down. Is it any wonder that many schools seek to get exclude these kids? Is it any wonder that so many of these kids slip through, what is already a very tattered net. It's half term. A time when I can relax. It's hard work having two children with special needs at home all day but while they are with me I know they are safe and understood. One day I hope I will be able to feel the same when my youngest is at school. You know, sometimes I look at my son and I feel it would be easier for him if he had 'I have a disability' tattooed to
his head, at least that way people wouldn't be so quick to label him, maybe that way he'd get more of a chance. I welcome your comments on this subject. I am working with a group of parents to try and raise awareness of this with others and I would love to hear what you think. Thanks for reading. Mandxx
Today was the day I saw my youngest son attend his new school for the first time. For those of you who are unfamiliar with myself and my family, I have an Autistic son aged 11,called Michael. He was diagnosed at the age of 8 after a long battle to get his difficulties,behavior and disabilities recognized. The years since he first attended primary school have been fraught with problems,worry, unhappiness and battles to have his needs met. The battle has never let up, no do I expect it to in the future, however today a big part of it was won. Having spent primary education in a mainstream school, that despite being unsuitable for his needs,did have better facilities and attitudes than most primary schools we have encountered when it came to Michael's needs. Absolutely ever step of the way we have had to fight for every bit of support he received,or in most cases didn't ever get. Regardless of the LEA's (local education authority) policy of total inclusion (this means all children should have the facilities to stay in mainstream education,and indeed that this is always preferable) I find myself believing that the policy is very wrong. I am quite sure that parents of other children may agree,especially some of those who have Autistic children. Autistic children have fundamental problems with socialization, environment and change, often along with this go problematic motor skills and safety/danger issues in a big way. The conclusion we had reached at an early stage was that Michael was not coping with a small, well structured school environment that had been tailored to his needs where practice for the school, he certainly was not going to cope in a secondary school even with the support on offer.Add to that the fact that we had long since learnt that support that was offered seldom became a reality. Our minds had been made, the lines were drawn, we approached the relevant parties and
started the long and hard fight for Michael's place in a special school. It may be helpful for you to understand a few things about Michael's time in a mainstream school.... He was assaulted, beaten up and generally buillied throughout his time there, primarily due to his disabilities. At 8 years old his reading and writing were at a pre- nursery level (non existent) It took until the age of 9 to get 5 hours MSG (extra funding for one to one and teaching assistants to help him)- this should have been met with the same amount of time from the school- in practice Michael NEVER actually received even the full 5 hours each week. He had to have one teacher, one classroom and a lesson timetable that meant each lesson happened at the same time each and every day(the alternative was that he spent the whole day kicking,puching and being unable to talk due to the stress) He left that school at the end of last term after 6 years, he had NO friends. Every specialist or referral took months and years to come through, then only with constant phone calls and letters. We were NOT the only parents in this situation and Michaels case was actually better than some as well as worse than others. At the beginning of the day we took Michael into school (when he would co operate) and at the end of the day we collected him, each time we spent 5 to 20 minutes exchanging information,news and strategies with his teacher. We were regularly called into school to "cope" with Michael's "outbursts". We regularly attend meetings and appointments with school and the head in a bid to sort out these problems. At the end of the day the authorities failed him miserably. The system has good ideas and good resources. They are not enough or appropriate in all cases, leaving a huge gap that cannot be filled. All resources are over stretched and inadequately funded and to get anything means f
ighting for it. There are some excellent saff and caring teachers, without them Michael wouldn't have made it through to this point in time.They are overstretched and unfortunatly there are often a few who are inept. Two years ago we knew that a "special" school was the way forward for Michael. We went to every mainstream school within our city, every special school that we could, we talked to senco's (special educational needs coordinator- every school has one),discussed with Michaels psychologist,educational psychologist,piediatric specialist,doctor etc., and found no alternative and no one that felt there was an alternative, with the exception of the LEA. We were turned down, we appealed, we turned down we appealed and did our homework - statistically the way the LEA alocates resources and placements,statements etc etc soon tells a story of funding strategies, unequal oportunities and dispicable attitudes. We found that highlighting these things in as public a manner as possible along with NOT taking no for an answer, began to change their thinking. We filled form after form, ran round getting reports and hand delivering them, taking his school work to them along with independent peoples reports to reflect the true picture,we quiried inaccurate information and reports and researched information non stop. The Lea were unable to provide an answer or a school for Michael to attend after the summer holidays. Last week there was a break through - they had granted and agreed the placement we wanted at a special school that had a whole unit for Autistic and Aspergers (able autism) children. This was not our first choice,but it was our second and a miracle at that! Today my son went for his first two hours there...... Ok,so he's been twitchy about this new place but then it's a change and Michaels doesn't do change. Although we have visited th
e school and Michael has too,actually being there in the school day was a new experience and one I know he is going to love. From the moment we walked in it was geared to minimalising stress factors,the lessons,the rooms,the teachers,the facilities and the communication is so geared up to these children. The school has children with many different diabilities,but Michael's group is specifically for Autistic children so all there rooms and lessons can cater for those needs without having to cater for different needs at the same time. Even dinner time entails the Autistic children having a meal before the other classes,a big plus factor in Michael's eyes.Previously when they had been on the latter end of the dinner rotation he was unable to function properly in the afternoons.The event of having to be in a noisy and buoys dinning room with alot of other children was just too much to cope with. Now he will only have to contend with two classes of 7 children.Eating dinner with a maximum of 14 children is something he will cope with and who knows,maybe enjoy one day. The little things like the dinning arrangements are going to make all the difference to Michael and although it is very early days and I suspect it will be far from plain sailing,I know that what we did was right for Michael. Stepping forward now, my son has been full time at his new school for over a month now!!..... Not only am I more convinced than ever that we made the right descision ( I can't say choice as I don't feel choice came into it!). I have a different son, a son that is functioning at a higher level than ever before, one that can come home from school and actually still comunicate with me. He has good days and bad days, but for the first time in 11 years his bad days don't end in a total shut down, now his bad days are equivalent to his past good days!! His good days are fantastic..he can tell us about
what he's learned and been doing, sometimes he'll even sit down and eat his tea with the whole family!! (he used to have to eat his meals alone as he couldn't cope with us all at the table). The type of learning he's doing is teaching him vital life skills and social skills, less concentration on the national corriculum (which he'd never be capable of) has left time for more of the basics upon which we can hope to build a future for him!! The one most notable thing I can say about his overall state in his new school, is that he is happy - a word previously unknown to my son. It may not be obvious by way of beaming smiles, but I know my son and I know that for the first time in education, he is happy!! Anyway,thank you all for bearing with me on this,I know I have waffled far too much but I feel better for it and hopefully it may be some use to you too...I am finally going to get to the point about my advice on education. I am not going to say special education because school problems and lack of resources,bullying and many more things are problems that extend across the board. What I am going to say is that no matter what you are unhappy with when it comes to your childs school and education, be prepared for difficulties in getting what your child needs (although it's not ALWAYS that hard), don't accept what you are told is best, as best. If you feel your childs needs aren't being met then go to the school, liaise with them, talk to them, complain to them, go higher if need, demand, argue and plead !! Do whatever it takes. You will know when it's right and you'll know when you have got what they need. Many people have offered me advice, helpful organizations to contact, official address to write to and pointers about how to tackle the system, to those I am very grateful. It can be very hard to know what the "correct" course of action should be. My advice
is to try the teachers, then the head teacher, then the governors, then the Lea, then the government (even at the highest level), research the resources available and the laws and guidelines that direct schools in their responsibilities. Write, record and register everything at every level. Above all accept nothing that you or your child is not happy with. Do not expect the school to get it right on their own (if you're lucky they will though), you childs education is not just the schools responsibility. Again a big thanks to all those who've been both supportive and helpful, and to those who've spared the time to read this op.If there's anything I can do to help you (I have extensive material and address etc) leave me a comment and I'll get back to you.
At the age of 17 months i knew there was something wrong, a mother does. I had a boy who couldn't talk, all he could do was grunt and point for things he wanted. Most children by that age are starting to say words, but not mine. I went to the doctors and the health vistors a number of times but i was always being told "wait a few more months it will come". I waited and waited, by the time my son was 3 years old he still wasn't saying any thing. At 3 and a half years he started nursery, I told them of my concerns and they decided to back me 100 per cent. I went back to my health visitor and demanded that she recomend for my son to see a speech therapist. We got to see one with in 3 months, great i thought now i can find out what is wrong. But again i seemed to be waiting, as all she could do was to watch him play and not say a sound. Still nobody was saying ther was any thing wrong with him, I was pulling my hair out. The speech therapist recommended that I had his ears tested and also to see someone from the ENT at the hospital. Again we waited. He has "slight glue ear" says the doctor at the hearing clinic. Great I thought he can have that removed then I can have a child that can talk!! Not a chance "the glue ear will go on it's own" i was told. The best was when he went to the ENT i was informed by the so called doctor "his asthma can stop him from talking". By this time I was so gobsmaked I just stood there and went total blank, I couldn't belive what I was hearing. I went home then colapssed on the kitchen floor in tears. "Why wont no body listen to me". By this time I was going to the doctors with my nerves and I was put on antidepressants. When we returned back to the speech therapist my Son decided to make a noise. It was enough for her to say "I think he has VERBAL DYSPRAXIA, here is a leaflet go
home and i'll see you next week". What the hell was verbal dyspraxia? I went to the libary to look it up nothing, the only help I got got was off the internet. Dyspraxia means clumbsy the verbal speaks for it self. No children with this are lazy. Just very frustated as the words won't come out. After this I contacted the LEA and demanded a STATEMENT to be done. He got it at the age of 5 years, but that was only because I was on the phone every minuite of the day, who else can fight for him. Then came the fight with the LEA over which school will he go to, yes he could go to a school 5 miles away, but why should he. My son was happy where he was and I was not going to disturb him and send him backwards. So I stook it out and now he has been given 10 hours of extra help a week, one to one with a teacher who works with the speech therapist. Although he has come on fantastic we know we have along way to go. Keep fighting for your children. A mother always knows best. Sorry if it is a bit long winded but its not easy fighting for you rights! Good luck to anyone else with these problems.
Imagine you are a child sitting in your classroom along with your classmates, and your teacher has set you some simple maths tasks, as simple as adding up for instance. You got the idea of how to do it the other day, but for some reason today, your mind can't seem to make any sense of it at all, you can't remember the formula for lining up your tens and units columns up, and you can feel yourself getting flustered as most of your classmates have their heads down and are getting on with the job. You decide to just put down what you think the answer will be, and you work comes back to you with lots of crosses on it, you can feel the prying eyes of those of your peer group who are close enough to get a glimpse of your maths paper. You can feel what they are thinking. Then a couple of days later, in your literacy lesson, you are asked to read a passage out of a book, you start to sweat, because you know that you are going to go wrong somewhere. As your heart begins to pound away, you read the passage, and pretend not to notice the odd snigger from those "friends" sitting nearby. Ordeal over, your heart settles down to a regular beat again! These instances are just part and parcel of school life for Dyslexic children. School can be stressful, and even so exhausting that a Dyslexic child may need the occasional day off to recover their energy. The Dyslexic child has to put in twice the work just to try and keep pace with the school curriculum. Dyslexic children are usually very bright, and excel in other subjects such as the arts, music or sports. They are very often eloquent at speaking, even though they may have been late talkers. They are certainly not dumb! Some of the symptoms such as word reversal can be common in young children; don’t assume that it automatically points to Dyslexia. If you notice no improvement as time goes on, speak frankly to your child’s teacher; you ne
ed to have a good relationship with them. If your child’s teacher agrees that no progress is being made, they will probably get someone in from the Local Education Authority to assess your child. The assessment may result in your child being classed as having Special Educational Needs, as a result extra help may be provided from Classroom Assistants. Assessments may be repeated every few months, if you still feel that no progress is being made with regard to your child’s schooling, you have to prepare yourself for a bit of a fight. But don’t get stroppy, get yourself armed with facts, learn about the procedures for obtaining extra help for your child. If a child is very badly behind, and showing no sign of progress even with extra help in class, then you may need to ask for an assessment with a view to obtaining a “statement” of special educational needs. This is not easy to obtain, there are hurdles to get over, that is the way the system works, but do not be put off. If a “statement” is given, your child will be entitled to much more in the way of specialist help etc. I strongly recommend that you visit one or two web sites that offer help and advice for parents of children with learning difficulties. One such site is IPSEA, the Independent Panel for Special Education Advice. They exist to inform, advise, and to defend children’s rights to special educational provision, this is their web site URL http://www.ipsea.org.uk/ The British Dyslexia Association have their own web site too, so you can get advice and information from those who know about the problems, here is the URL http://www.bda-dyslexia.org.uk/ Lastly, never let your child see if you are worried about their abilities, and never label them as Dyslexic or anything else for that matter unless you are sure. Good luck, be positive!
I have two 'special' children, but then aren't they all? I try very hard to make sure my kids feel 'normal' but boy do I hate that word. My youngest child has always had 'Special Needs'. Been hyperactive since the day he was born, and now finally diagnosed with ADHD, but a happier little lad (most of the time) you couldn't wish to meet. His playgroup frowned on his behaviour, but offered no advice when I asked. My immediate family decided it was all down to me. His nursery loved him (can you tell he was in a tiny class with two caring teachers!). Then he started school, day in day out I had complaints. At the time all I knew was he was such a handful, I was having difficulty coping with him and I asked everyone for advice but got none. The school could only complain. And complain they did for one entire year. On moving into Year 1 he already had an awful reputation within the small school, no friends, and I was at my wits end. And then his teacher called me in and mentioned 'Special Needs'. We talked about getting him onto their Register and maybe seeing the Educational Psychologist, but no idea when that would be, it was made clear he was a busy man and only had 6 hours per year to spend at that school, and they had been used up already on one child - this was in September! But the teacher assured me that she would do what she could to speed things up. I was told nothing more could be done till this assessment. I now know this is wrong. I waited for months for things to happen, but nothing did, more complaints came thick and fast, and eventually I found another mum with a dyspraxic child and she had been through the Statementing process. My school had given me no clue that this would be the end result - maybe. She encouraged me to push the school, to check up on their records, to see what else they could do. I found they had no records, yet should have been keeping them since day one, no review meetin
gs were held with us. And still no clue when the Educational Psychologist could see my son. I asked the school constantly for help and advice and somewhere to turn, but no advice given. Eventually, I started to kick up big time, and suddenly they were able to do something!! They called in the behaviour support team for an assessment. When I asked to see a copy of that report the head teacher told me it wasnt mine to see - wrong!, I am entitled to see that. After one year of this I decided enough was enough, I moved schools. He stayed on stage 2 of the special needs register, and was just helped in the classroom by a very understanding class teacher and the classroom assistant. Although this school werent able to expediate his assessment, they did get an appointment with the school doctor who tried to speed up his ADHD diagnosis (unsuccessfully) and they did help with his social development. Circumstances changed for our family then. Not only after the past couple of years has we been fighting the school and trying to deal with some difficult behaviours, but we dealt with a divorce. We moved across the country onto our third school. I got my other child settled into school and went along to see the school for my son. After half an hour in the staff room they decided they werent able to deal with his behaviour in a class of 30 so he was not accepted into the school. This seems harsh, but the school did him such a good turn. He spent 2 months at home, then started part time. During his time at home, the school arranged for the Educational Psychologist to come and assess him at our home. And they immediately started looking into funding from the LEA for a classroom assistant and they requested a Statement of Educational Needs. Of course all that takes time, but we badgered the LEA as he wasnt in school, the school did too, and they agreed funding for part time help. So he started part time, then 6 months later he started full time. We had
a full time classroom assistant to help him, plus a lunchtime assistant. We were ecstatic, predictions had been that we would be lucky to get an hour or two a day. A couple of years on and he has now moved up successfully to the next school, and is loving it, early reports are promising. The whole process is very difficult, but we are now better prepared than we have ever been for our continuing fight. His statement is just being altered to include his diagnosis of ADHD. Anyone starting on this process will have a long and difficult slog ahead of them, and they need to be prepared for what may or may not happen. When my son was first put on the special needs register I really knew nothing about it and I assumed that the school would tell me what I needed to know. Wrong. If you knew what you needed to know, then you would be on their case more. You really need to be ready for your childs teacher: Why does your teacher want your child on the Register, What are they going to do initially? classroom monitoring? classroom assistant? Make sure they keep records, one teachers word isnt very helpful, especially if you move schools like we did. You need everything in writing. How long do they expect to stay on that stage? Get them to explain the 5 stages, or find someone that can. Do they think your child will need a full statement or not? Many children don't need to get that far. We found that our teacher was pulling us into the classroom every night to complain, we found that very negative and asked that it be done in a different way, either five minutes before the end of the day or once at the end of the week unless it was major. I didnt want my child to hear constant criticism. I think half our battle was won when we found an understanding school. They didnt want him there full time because it would have been a negative experience all round. And we agreed. One other thing thats hugely help
ful is the DFEE code of practice, if you call them they will send it to you for free. Its quite a big book but fairly easy reading and very very relevant to everyones situation. We read it cover to cover and during the statementing process the school and LEA knew we knew it by heart. At the end of the day the whole thing comes down to money, there is just not enough to cope so everyone is fighting for their share. The LEA informed us that each school has money built into their budget to cope with special needs, so if the school identify a child with special needs they should already have some money at least to help, but then the school say its never enough. My other child has special needs of another sort, yet another reason for me to badger the school. She was diagnosed diabetic recently and although the school were initially very supportive and helpful, within a few months it all seemed to slip. She should have her photo and a medical slip on the staff room notice board, our school seemed to think a little slip of paper with my phone number on would suffice! NOT. She has had problems with teachers that know her not allowing her to go to the toilet and also being told off for going into lunch first, an arrangement her nurse sorted with the school. On approaching her teacher I was told that they have 30 kids in the class and some of them like to play up! And I think that sums it up for both my kids really, but at the end of the day, there is only one person in that class I am interested in. And that MY child. The class teacher may have 30 children to worry about, the school may have several hundred but I have only 2 and if dont fight for them no-one else will. I know its hard but you need to plan ahead and know what your objective is for your children. Apologies for the long winded approach. Now go get your DFEE book :-)
I am a fully qualified teacher working in a wonderful Special School. I get fed up with hearing doom and gloom stories about Special Needs and education and so I want to take this opportunity to offer parents some much needed reassurance. I think it is so difficult for any parent to make the choice of sending their child to a Special School. I hope that what you read here will make you realise that it is sometimes the best choice and allows a child to grow and develop into a confident adult rather than stand back in the shadows. I want to tell you about the school where I work. A school is nothing without a good team of staff and children and ours are wonderful. I have never met such a team of caring individuals as make up our staff. Parents are made to feel welcome and are truly valued in the process of educating their child. Many parents have had bad experiences with mainstream schools, they are telephoned frequently to be told that their child has misbehaved again. The staff at my school telephone to tell them of their child's achievements! We keep in regular contact with the parents and let them know every achievement that their child has made no matter how small. The children are inspirational. Many are very sick yet so cheerful that it puts me to shame. The children are so accepting never noticing the disabilities that they each have. Many parents are concerned that their children may be bullied because they are sent to a Special School. There is no bullying whatsoever in our school and the children are equipped to deal with any they might encounter outside the school grounds. The classes are small around 9 to a class with about 3 adults. The children thrive in such an environment. Staff have time to talk to them - this may sound strange but I have taught in mainstream and there is not the same quality time for these kids there. Not only do they improve with the academic work, but also socially. They ar
e shown how to socialise and many make friends for the first time in their lives. They are shown how to eat and drink to the best of their capabilities and are taken out on a regular basis into the local community. This develops all sorts of skills from money handling to socialising. These are the skills that SEN children really need in order to survive. There are no end of specialists on hand within the school who provide invaluable advice to teaching staff and parents. My school has Occupational Therapists, Speech and Language Therapists, Physiotherapists and Nurses. The parents have the opportunity to develop a good relationship with these people and therefore are no longer intimidated by such professionals. Children have the opportunity to do things that they would probably never be able to do in a mainstream school such as sailing boats, abseiling and quad riding - and they love it! The children have access to the National Curriculum and are encouraged to take SATs papers if appropriate. The work is challenging yet they never become frustrated by it. Parents are encouraged to come in and see the work that we do at any time. The children have all the specialist equipment that they need on site. Resources are constantly being updated to improve their education. As one parent recently told me she was fed up with her daughter always being bottom of the class and upset. She is to start Special School soon where she will be amongst the top for the first time in her life. She doesn't have any friends right now as she is picked on in mainstream school. It seems so harsh on these children to be placed in a position where they are failing on a daily basis and it gives me great pleasure to allow them the opportunity to have some success in my classroom. Thanks for reading.
My son was diagnosed with ADHD at 5 years old and Asperger's Syndrome at 6. I think because of his fairly early diagnosis, the school has been rather accommodating and equipped to deal with my son's challenges. I, along with several other school staff members, meet about three times during the year to discuss my son's educational plan and his progress. We also talk on the phone quite frequently about his behavior (the academics are usually not a problem, as with most Asperger's children.) My son attends the special education room for part of the day where he can receive more individualized attention. This room also allows him to have more freedom to get up, walk around and get the wiggles out. They try different approaches to learning with my son, such as wearing earplugs when the surrounding noises start to effect his concentration; wearing a special bodysuit when he gets too hyper that helps him to do arm and leg stretches which in turn uses up some of his abundant energy; and using "fun" pens or pencils to write with because fine motor work is so overly tedious to my son. They second half of the day is spent in his regular ed. classroom which is good for him to get used to because in the future this is where he will probably be on a permanent basis. He has been fortunate to have a wonderful second grade teacher with the patience and understanding of an angel. I hope he is just as fortunate in third grade which starts soon. The only people I have been displeased with in his school are the teachers of special classes such as music, art, and physical education. They usually do not have the proper training to deal with children with special needs. But I do have to say that the school did try to help this situation by having an Asperger's Education Day for all teachers that spent time with my son. I have had some run-ins with the art teacher. She was not open to making many accommodations for
my son. If he wasn't going to act like the "normal" children, then she didn't want much to do with him. She basically gave up on him. Aside from that, I have had a wonderful experience with my children's school. I do realize that he is young, and the situation may change as he gets older. Some of his behaviors will not be seen as being quite so cute when he is 13 or 14. That is one of the reasons I plans on staying with the same school system until he graduates. Consistency is so important for these children and I think it is just as important to the school system so that they are familiar with his situation. Yes, it does give some teachers a predisposed attitude toward your child, but in the end I think it promotes more understanding of your child and more patience which is so important. As any parent of an Asperger's child knows, patience is everything! If your school is not trying to accommodate your child's needs, you need to keep on them about it. Do the research yourself and inform the school of the best ways to help your child learn. GOOD LUCK!
Our son has special needs (ADHD / Asperger syndrome / Seizures and although he has tremendous social and behavioural difficulties because of these conditions, he has an IQ of 148 at last testing. Which means he is REALLY intelligent. However, despite this intelligence he has been to 5 different schools so far of which we actually took him out of 3 of them. The Junior school had him for 18 months and I was fairly happy with that particular school and his current one (a high school - he is now 14) although they are *trying* to accomodate him, told us last week that they don't think they are going to be able to for much longer. His SATS results have just come through and he has 7s and 6s. 7 is top mark. Although, with the statementing procedure, it looks like there is lots of support for these kids, in actual fact there isn't. It all looks great on paper, but boy if YOU have had a special needs child and have had to fight the system for nearly 12 years like we have, you'll know what I'm talking about. ONLY another parent who has gone through it can possibly understand the hell of it all. Many Special Needs Assistants who are employed by schools do it for 'pin money' many of them. This is not to diminish those who do it because they love helping kids, but a large section of them have NO training, NO qualifications and NO knowledge of the particular conditions and disorders belonging to the children they are looking after. One particularly bad one my son had at the last school (which we took him out of because of all the bullying and harrassment BY SCHOOL STAFF and the fact that they weren't addressing his special needs at all -just punishing him for them) thought her task was to go run and tell the teacher every time my son 'stepped out of line' ... which he does all the time! That was why he supposedly had the support!!!!! She didn't have the faintest clue or understand that my son has behavi
oural problems BECAUSE of his conditions, not AS WELL AS them. Also many teachers just don't have the patience to understand our kids. Yes they are difficult, yes they can be unpleasant, but 99% of the time this is beause they are not coping with their surroundings and the situation. Many schools simply punish these children for things they CANNOT HELP, like blowing up inappropriately, impulsive behaviour, 'insolence' which is in fact a display of their speech and language difficulties. I was so distressed by the treatment we got from the last High school I complained to the Gov ombudsman and they have, after thorough investigation, come down on our side and have been asked to appologise for the distress and trauma they caused to both my son and I ....... I am still waiting for it. Because of these difficulties my son spent 10 months out of school last year, with his high intelligence, while the more 'average' pupils were able to carry on their education uninterrupted. This makes me SO mad because his Dad and Me (his Stepdad) have ALWAYS worked and paid full tax, national insurance and council taxes - yet we have had such a LOUSY, and often non existant service over the years. All we want is an educaton for our son! This is on top of the MEDICAL battles we've had too. He had to wait years and years to get diagnoses of ADHD and AS and we're STILL battling to get epilepsy put on the statement. However, although he's had over 100 complex partials since September the neurolgist is insisting we VIDEO him having these episodes before he will even consider treating him. Does he think we're making all this up for God's sake? If you don't have enough on your plate already without having to fight tooth and nail for any scrap of medical or educational help which is there .....SUPPOSEDLY. Oh well, perhaps it would be better to be a criminal (R Biggs). He got the best medical treatment r
ight away didn't he. No fight, no argument. Makes your blood BOIL.
HOW THE SYSTEM FAILS My son Nicki-leigh is nearly seven now and has learning difficulties. The school nicki’s at , at the moment is quite a good school . Ever since nursery nicki has had problems with writing and reading, general Learning at school. I’ve had a right struggle from nicki starting school, to the class he’s in now 3 years down the line,and I’m still finding it a struggle to get the help he needs.. I’ve gone to all the open evenings and had the teachers say to me nicki’s got a behaviour problem, but deep down I knew it was more than this with nicki, I was starting to get annoyed now seeing nicki going through hell trying to do this work, with no help what so ever. So decided to say something on last parents evening, and did to Nicki’s teacher who said she shared the same concerns, by this time special needs teacher had assessed Nicki who also put it down to` bad behaviour’, I was getting quite peeved by this time!! I then thought it was time to go to headmaster show him Nicki's work ect and see what he had to say. He stressed there was not enough resources for the special needs and its very hard to get help, any way he did say he would look into why Nicki had’nt already been put onto special needs list for help. To my knowledge Nicki was’nt getting any help, if he was it was nowhere near enough. I later found out Nicki was already on special needs register, but only receiving help once or twice a week , and not with special needs just teacher at school.. Was getting so annoyed now been back to see headmaster and told him I want an appointment with this special needs teacher, so I have got one very soon. Special needs gave headmaster report from when they last assessed nicki, I was allowed to read this, so did, exactly what I thought `behaviour’ crops up again, what is it with special ne
eds they seem to put it down to any thing but then problem here! Also said Nicki needed slight help but nothing mayjor . Nicki cannot write his own name, can barely read and certainly can’t do mathamatics, my experience of this system is not worth writing, three years behind my son is and is still the same as he was in nursery… My experience of the special needs association is useless and have left my son that long how could he ever catch up to the children in his year.. Special needs are supposed to help children develop properly in every subject of school work, its supposed to be one to one help so the child gets the support needed, and make sure childs developing to class standards or as close as.. I’m not giving up fighting special needs and now I’m receiving help from teachers and headmaster, my child needs it and I’ll fight until I get it…
Let me start by telling you that I work with 'special needs' children and have done for seven years.I have worked in both mainstream schools and specialist units/centres. I have done extensive training, go on regular intensive courses at our teacher-training centre, have had one-to-one training with the 'experts' and child psychologists e.t.c. My last post was at a unit, within a mainstream school, for children with autism. They not only have autism (covering the whole autistic spectrum)some have ADHD,OCD,Dyspraxia,Dyslexia...some are manic depressives. There are only 12 kids in this unit and all was going well.The unit was quite new and the school had much opposition from both parents of the mainstream kids and the staff in the mainstream part of the school.As I said though, all was going well.These lovely kids settled in well.They integrated well with the mainstream kids and took part in many of the mainstream activities (the ones they could cope with )They even had their music lessons with their mainstream peers......these lessons went like clockwork.You could see these kids bloom, the progress was amazing , each day you could see a difference. Many of these little people could not speak, so makaton (signing)was used, both the signing and the visuals, by the whole unit. You could see the improvement in their speech, motor skills, numeracy, literacy, almost everything....a very rewarding place to work. Shortly after the unit was opened a new child was offered a place, he was to be one of the oldest in the unit.He was 'loosely' diagnosed as autistic , but it was made clear that no-one was quite sure. His mother was adamant that he was not autistic...infact she was adamant that he had no problems at all, according to her it was the staff and schools that were at fault, not her son. These children needed structure and consistency, they needed their routines to be just that, rou
tine.Then came the 'spanner in the works' in the form of this new child with his extreme behaviour problems. He was not to take part in any lessons...he refused to, instead he decided to smash the unit up, wreck the expensive and much needed equiptment, cause major disruption to speech therapy sessions. He would fill the childrens drinks bottles with toilet water and make them drink it.He would attack the children.He would touch the girls in places he shouldn't.The air would be blue with his foul language, the list goes on and on. He would physically, brutally attack staff and children alike, he beat the head of the unit so badly one day, that she could barely walk, he was also big for his years. His mother would be called on occasion but it got to the point that she complained and would conveniently not be home when we called.She created merry hell at any mention of him having any 'problems', even though, previous to this in other schools, he had to have full time one-to-one supervision, escorted to the toilets, each lesson and having his own midday supervisor. Though his mother would stand her ground in school on the diagnosis issue, we have since found out it is quite a different story in the outside world.We have found out via social services and the police that, when he breaks into schools and shops, when he smashes car / house windows or runs into the road actually causing an accident, his mother excuses all this with the fact that he is autistic ! The upshot in school is that several of the children within the unit have regressed and that is so very sad to know and see. These kids are scared stiff to go to school, but many of them cannot explain clearly the reasons to their parents.When the parents query this with the head of the unit she just fobs them off with some excuse or another.To me, the last straw came last year when the children did their SAT's,because of the very
nature of their problems they had to have one-to-one supervision for these. We were all given a child to work with, the head of the unit made sure she worked with this boy.I spent much time explaining to the child I was working with, that I could not help him with certain things, that no child, whoever they are could have this help. Thirty minutes went by with my trying to explain to this boy who wanted to do his best, followed by him sitting in the corner twisting at his hair and pulling it out, before I managed to coax him into doing some of the test. When the test had finished the head of the unit and the boy strolled in...him proudly boasting about how he would not do the test so the teacher "done it for me"..she going a funny shade of pink before trying to waffle her way out of it, the boy found it very funny.....the child I was working with, well imagine his reaction. I was so angry I went straight to the head of the mainstream school and reported it.He promptly withdrew the childs papers. Questions : Why were the parents of the other children not told the truth ? A) Because that may mean that they withdraw their child from the unit. Why are none of these incidents reported to the borough ? A)For the same reason that no other staff from the unit (except the head of the unit ) are asked to sit in on meetings anymore, just incase we let slip something, then of course, funding for this unit may cease. Why is the head of the unit acting this way ? A) This unit is her 'baby',she fought long and hard for it.It is thought that she sees a lot of her own son in this boy so there is a blind spot somewhere. Sadly I am no longer there to watch out for these children in the unit, as I had an accident as a direct result of stopping this boy brutally attacking a little girl from the unit , for the sheer hell of it I might add. I have spoken to a member o
f the board of school governers with regard to the goings on and I hope she will achieve something as the behaviour continues .I suspect that the school are biding their time though , as this child is set to go into a unit in high school soon....so no longer this schools problem.Meantime the other little ones from the unit continue their daily struggle. I have written this as, I hope to God this unit is a one off with such problems, but just incase, then some parents of children with difficulties will be aware,that if their child is behaving in an unusual manner and you are the slightest bit suspicious of the reasons given by the school, don't leave it at that.Talk to other parents,voice your concerns to the head of the school, the borough, the board of governers, do what ever it takes.Ask if you can observe lessons, playtimes (your child does not have to be aware that you are there) offer, if time permits, to go along on school trips, if the unit has nothing to hide they will be more than happy to allow this.Though saying that, this boy has been out of the unit (conveniently )on some such days in our unit.Ask to talk to all the staff as a group,you will soon pick up on vibes. I know I wasn't flavour of the month with the head of the unit and quite frankly I don't care.I went into this job to help these children, to do all I could to help these children have access to an education they deserve and to ensure their time doing this would be both happy and fruitful,not to help in some cover-up, incase the unit loses funding in this joke of a borough who's policy is 'Inclusion ! Inclusion ! Inclusion!'....Yes , if that is possible...not at the expense of other childrens education,well being and happiness. I am all for units of this type within mainstream schools, it can help children (both mainstream and special needs )in many ,many ways and often leads to the latter eventually being integrated full time into the mains
tream.I have seen many of these units become extremely successful, for children with a whole range of special needs. I do, however , think this all needs to be extremely well planned and thorough, no room for mistakes like the ones I have mentioned, as at the end of the day these kids have a part to play in the future of our society.The main authorities on autism are from America, the work they have done with profoundly autistic people is amazing, bringing out the very best in them, many of them holding down full time jobs and being damn good at them ! ...but that's another opinion! At the end of the day it boils down to money.... this borough has been shutting down schools that could cater for this boy and the likes.All these children deserve a place, an education. The borough need to look at it all, without thinking too much about the money. Unbelievable isn't it ?
Don't bother going to sixth form. Collage is the way to go. At sixth form you are still treated as a child and you still have to register morning and afternoon. Don't do this at collage you are treated like an adult you register the lessons not the whole day. I go to great Barr Sixth form and its so like school i can't tell i have left. You are still with the immature kids who have to dress the same as their mates or get beaten up for being different. At collage you can be an individual and not care if what you are wearing is in fasion or not. Escape from school at 16 not when you are 18 go to collage
Firstly I would like to say how wonderful these children are. I along with some friends and a local landlady who agreed to let us use her pub and gave her support recently had a charity night in aid of a local school for children with learning and other problems. The event went well where everyone enjoyed themselves and never once forgot who we were raising money for. Both myself and the landlady were very lucky to have been invited to the school along with the local press to hand over the money raised and take a look at where the money was going and above all meet the pupils there. I was totally surprised some of these children are doing Judo, I don't know what I expected but it has certainly opened my eyes. Some of the pupils in the Judo class were at a competition and won several medals there are also a few of them in the Welsh Squad, fantastic. Looking at them in training I wouldn't like to be thrown around by any of them, they love it so much you can see it by the way they are and how much they are really enjoying it. Up until my visit I have always been someone who passes or meets a person like this and think Oh but No they are wonderful individuals and I know from now on any charity night that I organise will be for this school and schools or organisations like it. Well done to all the people who help and devote their time and in some cases life to places like this. I don't know why I was so surprised I think I must be Honest and say I am one of those people who thought it was someone elses job to do things for these children. BUT I WAS WRONG!! I certainly will be working to give help in any way I can from now on, I had a great time with these children and can't wait to see them all again.