To think school should have known....

(24 Posts)
SamVJ888 Wed 23-Sep-15 19:06:54

DD has been in the same school since 4 years old, she's now 13 and in year 9. Throughout this time she's struggled, with compression, with maths, with art, with sports, you name it she has found it difficult. I've been into school so many times in primary to speak to her teacher, her head of year, the deputy head and the head to be told there's nothing to worry about, she's just "not as bright as others", it's "because she can't control her stress levels" and that my expectations of her were too high. Just before she moved into senior school she was diagnosed with epilepsy a feature of this being absence seizures I assumed this was the problem.
She's now on various medications to control her condition and the absences have decreased, her performance at school has not improved though. Again I've spoken to her head of year, the head teacher and the senco all to no avail and been told I'm putting too much pressure on my DD, my expectations are too high, I don't push her enough to the latest and the best that my DD is meaning to fail for attention (this from the senco).
I knew there was a problem so I've paid for DD to see an educational pyscologist, I don't have the full report as yet but her initial diagnosis is that DD has learning disabilities specifically dispraxia.
I feel sick to my stomach that she's been trying so hard with her hands tied behind her back, she's an only child so I have no one to compare her to. Am I being unreasonable thinking that school should have known something was wrong? I'd appreciate any teachers opinion??

saltlakecity Wed 23-Sep-15 19:15:08

There school aren't necessarily sen experts. You, as her mother, could have pushed for her to be seen by her gp if you thought something was wrong.

SamVJ888 Wed 23-Sep-15 19:18:43

I did push with the gp 3 times and each time the referral was refused as DD wasn't deemed a priority hence why I've gone private. Appreciate teachers are not Sen experts but what is the Sen teacher if not an expert?

LIZS Wed 23-Sep-15 19:26:55

It s quite common for this to be missed, in any school. Have a look at the Dyspraxia Foundation website and see if the traits described ring any bells. It sounds as if the school may not have the best support and resources for her though, are there any other school options. I assume this is an independent ?

hellhasnofurylikeahungrywoman Wed 23-Sep-15 19:30:08

"...but what is the Sen teacher if not an expert?..." A teacher who has been given the role of SEN coordinator and nothing more. They do not necessarily have any more training in SEN than any other teacher, schools have to have an SEN coordinator so they name someone, it doesn't mean that person is a specialist in any kind of special educational need. The PGCE is woefully lacking in covering any areas around SEN. Most of the PGCE students I met when I was a teaching assistant felt that their training around SENs did not cover anything more than the basics and is certainly not enough to make anyone an expert in the subject.

Scarydinosaurs Wed 23-Sep-15 19:34:05

Trying with her hands tied behind her back? If you had this diagnosis before, what difference would it have made? IMHO the suggestions of help for dyspraxia tend to be what is done to assist low ability students (which is what it sounds like the school had identified as before) anyway, so I don't think it's worth mulling over this.

Is a change of school worth it if you've lost confidence in this school?

SamVJ888 Wed 23-Sep-15 19:35:32

I've just checked the school website and the senco has an advanced diploma in teaching children with learning disabilities along with her degree and generalised teaching qualification?

TeenAndTween Wed 23-Sep-15 19:40:22

If you had this diagnosis before, what difference would it have made? IMHO the suggestions of help for dyspraxia tend to be what is done to assist low ability students scary I respectfully disagree.

My DD was diagnosed in year 11. Even though I had been supporting from home, having the diagnosis, and the OT unifying everything, including some things I hadn't realised were related, was really helpful. The extra support my DD received having obtained the diagnosis was really helpful.

LIZS Wed 23-Sep-15 19:47:28

School teachers and SENCOs are not qualified to diagnose. She is only 13 there is still time to put support and strategies in place for
GCSEs. The Ed Pysch equally may not diagnose but suggest where the issues lie ( likely be processing and memory related) and how to address them. Hopefully the report will also highlight her academic potential which itself may help boost her self confidence if she feels she has been pigeonholed as unintelligent. Sometimes a fresh start can help too.

SamVJ888 Wed 23-Sep-15 19:48:39

Oh and in addition to her diploma it's her full time job she doesn't teach any other classes at all.

I think perhaps this is still a bit too raw for me at the moment and I do think with absence seizures, the effect of her medication and now this diagnosis she is "trying with both hands behind her back" (I didn't realise that was such an uncommon phrase), robin going to bow out before some of the comments wind me up too much

Fluffyemenent Wed 23-Sep-15 19:51:34

Just to point out this has nothing at all to do with the GP they have no input or referral pathways for educational issues. It has to be addressed through school and ed psyc. It is not a medical diagnosis but an educational one.

sexybeast Wed 23-Sep-15 19:51:47

Hello - my son (nearly 10) also has epilepsy and dyspraxia but it also very very bright. I thought he'd be ok at school due to being very intellectual. I found, however, the school just couldn't get their head round the problems caused by his epilepsy and dyspraxia probably as they are hidden disabilities. No matter how many times I went in they were still punishing him for being a slow writer, not listening etc.

In the end i removed him from school and have home educated him for the past few years. The 1-1 attention and the ability to get things repeated as well as the lack of distracting noise has helped him massively. His writing is still slow and immature but he is working at at least 2 years ahead in everything and there is no way that would have happened if he was still at school.

Maybe get your epilepsy nurse to have words with the senco. I am an ex teacher so I am (sadly) aware of how ignorant many teachers are of the true impact of hidden disabilities.Good luck.

yetanotherchangename Wed 23-Sep-15 19:52:46

This is the problem. We are encouraged to "trust"/put our faith in teachers, respect their opinion, stop be difficult parents, etc, etc. They are supposed to be the experts and the first question you will be asked even if you pay to see another professional is "what do school say"? But teachers fuck up and fail to spot important stuff. Obviously some don't and some are brilliant, but lots do.

Well done for getting the diagnosis now and I hope it improves things for your DD either at this school or another if you choose to move her.

LIZS Wed 23-Sep-15 19:53:32

going to bow out before some of the comments wind me up too much

Really? confused those who have commented so far do have personal experience which could support you . You did post in Aibu though. Maybe Sen or Education would be better topics?

Jodiemacdonald31 Wed 23-Sep-15 19:58:21

I'd be livid if it was my DD, I think it's natural to feel let down & all emotions are heightened when kids are involved. But as an outsider I would say try not to be angry and fixate on that, instead think that you're going in the right direction and things should now improve for your daughter flowers

sexybeast Wed 23-Sep-15 20:00:05

She is probably very upset LIZS. I know that with my child's diagnosis I felt furious with the world for a long time. Epilepsy + dyspraxia and seeing your child suffer (plus the truly horrid side effects of the meds) made me filled with rage - but with nowhere for it to go. I have a lot of sympathy for the op. I fell out with loads of people round about the time of DS's diagnosis because I just wanted to lash out at the uncaring cruel (as it seemed to me then) world.

SamVJ888 Wed 23-Sep-15 20:19:14

Thanks Sexy.
Shouldn't have posted at all I think, just feel so desperately sad about it all and don't like being in a position of not knowing what to do to protect and help her cos that's supposed to be my job sad

sexybeast Wed 23-Sep-15 20:20:41

Talk more to the Ed psych and I would again recommend home edding her. It is a great help with dyspraxia.

Moodyblue1 Wed 23-Sep-15 20:58:07

I understand how you feel OP, my DS is going through a diagnosis for dyspraxia and he is in year 7. I also had massive difficulties with his primary school getting them to work with me one of his teachers used to rip up his work if his handwriting wasn't neat enough and made him redo it I was furious, I tried going to the GP too but without school back up they said there wasn't much they could do. I moved him school and the new one noticed within a month all the issues that I had been pointing out and started putting support in place straight away, now he has started year 7 and they noticed straight away too so fingers crossed he will get the support he needs to get him through high school. I often feel like I've failed him but if there's a school telling you there's nothing wrong and they work with loads of kids you tend to doubt yourself.

The important thing is your DD is hopefully now going to get the support she needs, things will get better. Please don't be hard on yourself it sounds like you didn't everything you could.

Osolea Wed 23-Sep-15 21:20:10

It sounds to me like you're understandably feeling a huge mix of emotions at everything, and it's coming out as anger that has to be directed somewhere, so it's the school that's going to get it.

Dyspraxia can be very mild, like some other things it's a diagnosis that can cover countless behaviours because there's a huge spectrum, so I don't think you can expect a guarantee that a SENCO in a huge school would diagnose it. Especially if there's been a plausible reason for many of her difficulties.

It's likely that your dd has had some lovely teachers over her years at school, and they will have responded to her needs as they have found them.

emmaluvseeyore Wed 23-Sep-15 21:29:19

Just wanted to post that this diagnosis isn't the end of the world. With the right support, she can achieve her potential. My partner has dyspraxia and, with the right support through school and university, he has earned a good set of results. For him, it primarily affects his writing and other fine motor control using his hands. Therefore, he was entitled to extra time in exams and was allowed to type everything rather than write throughout his education. He now works as a computer programmer and the only time people really notice anything different about him is when he needs to write. I tend to fill in any forms that require writing so they can read what it says better, but in this day and age, that isn't required too often.

vaticancameos Wed 23-Sep-15 21:37:31

I don't understand what you mean by it's an educational problem not a medical problem? Sounds like she needs a referral to OT. They can do a proper assessment if dyspraxia is suspected. And they will go into school and make sure adaptations are put in place to help her where necessary. If the GP isn't helpful ask to see the school nurse.

InimitableJeeves Wed 23-Sep-15 21:38:28

I agree that the school staff couldn't necessarily have been expected to diagnose dyspraxia, but it does seem to me that they were too quick to dismiss OP's concerns. There is a whole Code of Practice which stresses the need for schools to recognise potential SEN early and to take steps to address it without delay. If the school staff couldn't discern precisely what learning difficulty OP's child might have, they should have looked at getting their own educational psychology report - they shouldn't have left it to OP.

It is also nonsense to say that provision for dyspraxia is inevitably the same as it would be for generalised learning difficulties. Every child is different, and their precise needs should be analysed. In particular for dyspraxia it is likely that the child will need occupational therapy, which is much more specialist than the help commonly available in schools.

lurkinginthenorth Wed 23-Sep-15 22:48:21

Hi, I'm a teacher!

SEN teacher is just a title given to a 'bog standard' teacher (in most cases) who is assigned as part of her/his job to over see the provision and support for SEN children. We are not trained nor qualified to make any sort of diagnosis such as Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, ADHD, Autism etc. etc. More often that not we follow the instructions of a professional who is trained and qualified to do so.

The coalition government made huge cuts to LA's budgets and in many cases, SEN was cut. We lost our external SEN service (SENSS) completely and many of these staff members went free-lance, which leads me to something else - budget.

Budgets for SEN are ridiculously shite! Very little support for teachers and therefore the children. A lot of 'learning difficulties' cannot be diagnosed until a child reaches a certain age. E.g. dyslexia has traits that is considered normal and developmental in children under the age of 7 and most 'grow out of it'.

Most of the time there is no diagnosis and it is notoriously difficult to know why a child is not making progress or falling behind their peers. The brain is a complex matter!!!

All we can do as teachers and parents is our best. it is frustrating as a parent but believe me, frustrating for teachers as well when you are faced with a children who struggles with learning.

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