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tell me what to look for in specialised setting/asd unit

(13 Posts)
LilTreacle Thu 30-Jan-14 05:23:06

Ds annual statement review went as anticipated and we are looking for an alternative setting. School has been brilliant but with no clear path to significant change to make reintegration possible, we have to accept we are at the end of the line with them. Currently working outside class with TA , going to play on his own etc. As emotional state is so labile and behaviour unpredictable.

Ms setting not likely to meet needs unless very small experienced school available.....dont know of any that fit that bill.

So.....what are the pro's and cons of special schools, asd units , and besd schools? What did you choose and why?

ds is dx with AS and ADHD with significant anxiety and demand avoidance ( possible PDA). Is academically capable and needs creative encouragement to attend to school activities.....so need somewhere he can thrive socially and emotionally while being educationally supported to meet potential.

interested to hear your views.

claw2 Thu 30-Jan-14 07:12:06

Ds went from MS to indi school with specialist support ie counsellor, OT and SALT, much smaller classes etc.

He has ASD, is potentially academically capable. He had what could be described as demand avoidance, due to his levels of anxiety. He was refusing to do anything, get dressed, eat, go to school, any work whatsoever and wouldn't even follow the most simple instructions. Definitely not PDA, as now his needs are being met better, he is very compliant.

I didn't feel SS would suit ds and local MS's were definitely not working for him.

He has now made huge improvements to where he was a year ago.

claw2 Thu 30-Jan-14 07:13:51

Forgot to add his last school was MS with ASD Unit. ASD Unit was rubbish and run mainly by TA's.

autumnsmum Thu 30-Jan-14 08:36:15

Claw I opted for sp sch for dd2 because the unit I was being pushed towArds was exactly as you described making play doh with a bored ta in yr 6 was not what I wanted for her

claw2 Thu 30-Jan-14 08:50:15

Exactly Autumn, like most other things an ASD unit is only as good as the specialist support and level of expertise it provides.

I saw ASD unit mentioned and assumed they would have more experience of ASD. I was wrong! It was just a building away from the classroom where children with SN's were put, with untrained TA's. A glorified babysitting service. Usually for children who are deemed disruptive in the classroom, which isn't much use if you have a child who is disruptive due to anxiety, as you then just have a room full of anxious disruptive children, making each other more disruptive and anxious!

I am sure not all ASD units are like this, however I would seek a lot more info about the unit before making a decision.

autumnsmum Thu 30-Jan-14 08:57:42

I chose sp sch for dd2 because although she has autism and it would appear learning difficulties she is also v anxious . At sp sch she has a class at a unit she would have been expected to go between class and the unit . I appreciate that doesn't help with your sons academic capabilities

ouryve Thu 30-Jan-14 10:15:29

DS1 has that profile and by pure luck, I came across a Indy SS "just" 45 miles away that caters for that profile. Only from year 5 upwards, though. We're pushing to get him in there, at the moment. I have no idea what our options would be if the school wasn't there, to be honest. We've muddled along in a small-ish, inclusive MS since he started school and it's reached the point where it's just not working at all, any more.

And, like claw, we're finding that when he's not stressed, he's no more demand avoidant than you'd expect of a 10 year old. He's extremely reasonable, in fact.

OneInEight Thu 30-Jan-14 10:45:25

It is tough but we are finding very few schools that meet this profile anywhere in the country and I have looked extensively.

The main thing we look for is attitude of the staff - do they understand the needs of children on the spectrum. Can they engage my children? Are they prepared to work through the challenging behaviour when anxiety levels are high.

We have ruled out mainstream because the things that cause the anxiety - other children, noise, large size, timetable changes - just can not be changed. A TA in the classroom is never going to overcome these factors.

ds2 is in an ARP unit at the moment (primary) and the staff are very good and flexible. They have good success with anxious children. They are struggling with ds2 but mainly because he only transferred in Year 6 and has come with two years of unhappiness with his last school not meeting his needs. He is engaging with staff but not any other children and it is likely he will never get as far as the mainstream classroom.

The ARP for secondary is dreadful though - staff have no understanding of autism. Infact, more support would be given at the mainstream down the road.

ds1 got put into a BESD school when he was permanently excluded. I was horrified but actually it has really met his needs and he is doing really well. I would say therefore do not dismiss although I know some have a bad reputation.

Ideally we would like both to go to an independent for secondary. ds2 had a taster day at one yesterday. For the first time in six months he actually spoke to another child & joined in classroom activities. It feels right. Now all we have to do is persuade the LA!

I guess what I am saying is to visit any schools you think might be appropriate and talk to the staff.

LilTreacle Thu 30-Jan-14 16:04:22

thanks for all your insights.
Big red flag to ASD units then!!! I would also expect a specialised provision in an ASD unit, not just a quiet room with TAs babysitting.
Ds would get bored and cause havoc pretty quickly.
That would definitely not work....maybe my idea of ASD provision is not anything like what is offered...I guess we will find out soon enough.

We have two units in the county, and 2 special BESD schools being pushed, but none actually have space at the moment in any case. So we will go and look and see what we think.

I asked about independent schools......I got the answer that if we wanted to pay for his education we can send him anywhere we like...hmmmm, not keen to spend at independent or out of county.

osospecial Thu 30-Jan-14 16:18:17

Agree with oneineight, visit all the options, thats the only way to tell, some ASD units do have good specialist provision, I'm hoping to get a place for my dd in one at the moment but I've visited 3 and all of them were so different, the other two I knew were wrong for dd.

ouryve Thu 30-Jan-14 16:21:31

There are Independent special schools which are paid for by LAs, if they don't have suitable provision of their own. Lots of them. Don't rule them out. Most niche provision for children with BESD/ASD/AS who are academically able appears to be in the non-maintained & independent sector

One of the things emphasised in the LA's own Ed Psych report, last year, which pleased me immensely was stress on the need for 1:1 and small group tuition with qualified and trained teachers (ie not a TA) and for a broad and suitably challenging curriculum.

Has your DS had a recent Ed Psych evaluation?

Strongecoffeeismydrug Thu 30-Jan-14 18:06:17

We started with ms for infant school which worked well and really benefited ds.
Then he moved to an asd unit which looked great for ds( my god how wrong were we ), he was babysat by tas not educated and he actually went backwards with his development hmm.
He's now at a asd specific special school where he's actually learning and he loves it.
Don't get me wrong it's not always plain sailing but they don't hesitate to phone and say mum we have an issue what would you do, or even we've found this to work would you be interested in coming in and learning what we do so to aid you at homegrin.
We really work together to benefit ds.

autumnsmum Thu 30-Jan-14 18:56:39

Strong dd2 is at autism specific sp sch it has helped her hugely

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