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Can anyone share their experiences of Speech and Language units?

(12 Posts)
BoogleMcGroogle Thu 12-May-16 09:54:21

Hello all. To cut a long story short, our son (age 4, yr R) has a long history of SAL difficulties. He has verbal dyspraxia and severe phonological disorder. He has some other issues too related to vestibular difficulties and hearing loss because of years of glue ear. It has become evident that his school, despite their very good intentions, cannot meet his needs. It is a very small, private school and we have had to initiate and fund any extra support. He is not really very happy at school at the moment (he knows he's 'different' and peers comment on his speech all the time and call him a baby) and has not made expected progress with his learning.

He is now going through an EHC assessment, with SAL as the primary area of needs and both our private and independent speech therapist suggest he would be a good candidate for our local SAL unit, which has a good reputation.

The unit is in a large infant school about 8 miles from home. We cannot take him there as I have my daughter to get to school, so he would go in a taxi provided by the local authority. I'm worried about him losing contact with his friends, about him settling into a bigger school and about the logistics of managing children at 2 different schools (I work during the day, but my hours are very flexible).

It would be so helpful to hear the experiences of anyone else who has had to make this choice for their child.

I so wanted him to be happy in his little school, with his sister, and I really thought that he would have improved by now. This is never what I imagined for him but I just need to know whatever we decide is for the best (cue the waterworks, better stop typing now....)

Frusso Thu 12-May-16 10:43:03

Firstly, go and view the unit if you haven't already, they will be able to tell you what they can offer.
The one I looked at had children in the unit in the am and back in their classes in the pm.
It is good that if you decided on it you have the backing of salts.

I can't offer much more than that I'm afraid as we went for a ss over the unit as dd has other needs.

BoogleMcGroogle Thu 12-May-16 11:15:12

Thanks. I have a date to visit the unit soon and the speech therapist based in the unit is happy to put us in touch with other families, which will be really helpful.

The unit I am looking at has the structure you describe. While I am happy with the morning set up, I have concerns about the afternoon, as the mainstream children are in large open-plan classrooms (so three classes to a huge room) and our son has hearing loss and glue ear. Also, his vestibular issues mean he's quite disregulated in large, noisy spaces.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Frusso Thu 12-May-16 12:00:45

It the classroom set up the same as he moves up the school, or does it become separate classrooms once they are out of reception?
The unit I looked at had had a good number of children with hearing impairments, so acoustic audits had been done and recommended soft furnishings, sound absorbing boards on walls, blinds, etc had already been implemented throughout the school.

Is your ds aided? and do you have an hearing support advisory teacher?

zzzzz Thu 12-May-16 13:47:57

We made a similar move. Well done you and your school for sorting out ehc before you left. I personally wouldn't send ds by taxi, could you not pay someone to take Dd and drive him yourself?

Go and see the unit, and the school. Go and see all the other local primaries too. Are you town/city/rural?

SandunesAndRainclouds Thu 12-May-16 20:59:50

My DD(8) moved to a speech & language SSC last year.

Educationally she has come on loads. She's more compliant with doing homework, will read aloud, and her speech is improving.

I fought to protect direct speech & language therapy in her EHCP.

DD has also had glue ear / hearing loss and auditory processing difficulties. She is in mainstream in the afternoon with 1:3 support (shared with 2 other SSC children). She seems to be coping fairly well with it, I would like to see her social skills improving too but that may take time.

It was a big decision to move her there. I wasn't happy with her in mainstream despite having 1:1 support as they didn't have the skills to support her S&L needs. I was on the cusp of Home Ed. but the staff at the new school / SSC had the experience she needed to nurture her development. I viewed the unit a couple of times with and without DD before I made my choice.

Good luck flowers

BoogleMcGroogle Thu 12-May-16 21:39:13

Thanks for sharing your experiences.

I get what Sandunes is saying about not having the experience. DS goes to a lovely school which is very nurturing and good at what they do. Unfortunately, it's not just that the don't have the experience, but they don't know enough about SAL difficulties to see exactly what the problems are. His teacher showed me the 'progress' he had made this year 'to put my mind at rest' and I felt much less at ease now as she thinks it's all fine.

zzzzz I really don't like the idea of a taxi, this is why we turned down a SAL nursery a couple of years ago. I think that we might do as you suggest and get someone to do my daughter's drop off a couple of days a week, as she's very settled at school and pretty resilient. I also worry about DS not wanting to get in the taxi. He's so strong willed if he doesn't want to get in, he simply won't get in!

SandunesAndRainclouds Thu 12-May-16 21:52:24

DD's unit has slightly different hours so I can just about make it between the two schools - obviously your 8 miles is tricky to navigate!

Her previous school disputed problems until year 1 until it was all so glaringly obvious they couldn't hide away from it any more. We paid for a private educational psychology assessment which was probably the biggest turning point of them all.

My neighbour's DC goes in a taxi to a ASD unit and the escorts (?) seem very good at coping with his refusal / strong will.

zzzzz Thu 12-May-16 23:19:22

My ds is severely language disordered and we moved him to a tiny MS state primary (previously prep) It has been WONDERFUL. Prep tried really hard and where lovely (well most of them grin) but nothing like the care he gets at his school now. smile Inclusion in the right school is a wonderful thing. ds follows his own curriculum, knows everyone at school and is welcomed by the frankly lovely children. It's fantastic. He has full time 1:1 and all sorts of accommodations. I would honestly pay what we were paying before and some for the experience he's had.

SlightlyCrumpled Sun 15-May-16 07:59:30

Hi, my DS finished at his S&L unit last year at the end of year 6. We had moved him midway through year 2 from our very lovely, outstanding mainstream primary.

It was a brilliant decision for so many reasons. His speech improved beyond belief (he was unintelligible making only vowel sounds), he was taught in a class situation instead of being isolated with his 1:1 all of the time & he visibly relaxed over the first couple of weeks. The effort of trying to keep up in MS was just too much for him.

He did / does go in a taxi (he was 6 when he first moved) and I was most upset about this as there was no way we could commit to taking him the 15 miles every day & sort out our other son. But it worked out brilliantly. It is the same driver / escort every day and there have always been a couple of other children in with him. Don't feel guilty if you do need to use transport, the majority of children in the unit will be.

Good luck OP & hope you like it when you visit. DH & I both had a few tears when we first looked around - a mixture of relief that it was going to be great for him and sadness that he needed it in the first place.

BoogleMcGroogle Mon 16-May-16 15:15:48

Another belated thank you to everyone who posted.

We now have an appointment to look at out closest primary, plus a small village primary local to us and the speech and language base.

At the moment I think that the base would be our first choice, but I am keeping our options open.

I feel so much more confident about this have read your experiences, both of mainstream schools and SAL units.

zzzzz Mon 16-May-16 16:31:25

Your more than welcomesmile. Come back and tell us what they were like when you've seen them.

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