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Dyspraxia & support at primary(20 Posts)
Its been a long time since I've been on here, so please be gentle.
My DS was diagnosed with Dyspraxia in September, but we have many reports highlighting his additional needs in the six months prior to that.
He has been at the same school since 4, and is now 10. They have given many comments over the years such as "can you teach your son to climb out of door ways" or "well he does run a bit funny" when raising concerns about bullying. The whole process has of diagnosis has been completely unsupported by school.
I have been quite naive as to what I can expect from our Primary, and had presumed that once we had OT recommendations & a formal diagnosis things would "fall in to place".
However I've realised this week (six months after OT full recommendations), I have realised that the school has no formal plan for my son (first report & recommendations given to school in Feb last year) and no apparent planning to offer any support going forward. They have also said that the rough plan they do have is an internal document which they had no intention of sharing with us.
I guess I would like to hear from others as to what options I have open to me. I have spoken with the support agency within our local council, but the school have told me that there is no funding for my son, no TA support and little they can do. They have admitted that the OT/Paediatrician recommendations haven't been followed. They even went on to say that funding for a statmented child further down the school has been used to support my DS as if this should make me grateful... I was gobsmacked!
I would like to hear from parents who have moved to private school, or found primaries who do take Dyspraxia seriously...
Schools do take dyspraxia seriously (and I'm sure your child's school do too) but there simply isn't funding in the notional SEN budget for support and accessing top up funding is a joke. Even the money linked to EHCPs doesn't cover actual cost. It's a nightmare for parents, schools and not forgetting children. I try to incorporate OT programs into daily whole class routine and PE warm ups, Speech therapy with listening to readers but the system is at breaking point and relies on staff giving up their breaks etc to try to support children.
What things have been recommended for School? Can the Ot come in and talk to School?
Like most things it’s not about diagnosis but what is needed to help support the child (in a realistic way)
Thanks all. Sirzy, the things recommended are:
physical aids (cushion & writing slope), IT assessment for regular use of IT equipment, work to be on sheets not on overhead projector, daily handwriting practice, Speed-up programme, touch typing programme, info on PE in advance etc...
My DS1 is probably dyspraxic (he was too young to be diagnosed when he had an OT assessment, and we've since moved countries and I haven't been able to find him a new OT yet).
His school (international school, so private) had a meeting with me following the OT report, and made some changes around having him do heavy work where they could (eg. carrying stuff for the teacher), they instigated a class dance thing - GoNoodle - where they all had a bit of a shake around before sitting down to work, they put in a quiet area where if he was getting frustrated, he could go and take a moment to chill, they made sure they reminded him to use the toilet, they gently encouraged him to use the playground equipment (and listened if he was finding something scary/hard), they didn't mark him down for his awful handwriting (but did encourage him to try) and used pencil grips/special pencils for him (I provided these).
All very small accommodations, which hurt no-one else, but dramatically helped him. To be honest, I think a good teacher would do this stuff anyway, but having it written down meant that they thought hard about matching him with the right teacher when he moved years.
It really was just about getting to know DS1, and treating him as an individual with strengths and weaknesses just like everyone else.
He was at a UK primary in reception, and they, similarly, just were good teachers who got to know their kids - they actually arranged his first OT, with other children who were strugging with handwriting, but of course in reception, other issues were masked by the fact that he was so young.
I would say that the expectations from ot are pretty unrealistic as a starting point then!
I would meet with the senco and ask about things like the cushion as a starting point and see how that goes and then take it from there.
You need to decide (with School and the OT) what the priorities are for now and focus on that. Make sure goals are set which are realistic
I will say, there were some recommendations they couldn't do - eg letting him chew on something while he was concentrating on work (I forget why that was recommended), but they certainly met me more than half-way on the recommendations.
Senco has turned down my request for a meeting!
I have offered purchase equipment, but was told it wasn't necessary...
Sirzy, which bits do you think are unrealistic?
Has anyone moved schools and found things better? Anyone moved to private schools and found a marked difference?
I think trying to do so much st once is unrealistic, I think going straight to IT things without trying things to support the handwriting is unrealistic. It also seems the OT is expecting School to purchase programs which again is pretty unrealistic without trying everything else first. I also thing is would be very unfair on any child to dump that lot, on top of the normal curriculum, on them all in one go and making so many changes would make it impossible to judge effectiveness.
As I said changes are needed but it needs to be done in a sensible way. Why won’t the senco meet with you? I would contact the head (and if needed governors) outlining the issue and identifying which you think are the key areas he needs support
That does sound a lot to ask the school to do, in addition to his usual lessons. If you can afford it I would suggest supplying any aids that he might need yourself. Also teach him to touch type and use a computer at home. Improve his fitness/core strength with after school clubs. It’s worked well for us as it’s just left the school with an achievable list of aims which are not so expensive to implement. They do sound much more supportive than yours though eg they already had him in small group handwriting practice before he got his diagnosis.
Yes we have purchased the cushion & slope already. They then bough their own a few months later so we have that.
The IT assessment is something I could purchase on their behalf but its difficult when they have received. I've offered to purchase the computer since last February but have been repeatedly turned down.
We are doing many things are home, but the bits they aren't doing are telling us about PE in advance, thinking about his involvement in physical activities such as clearing plates & glasses in the dinner hall, informing as of physical activities on residential trips, sticking notes into his home school correspondence so they aren't lost, providing paper copies of projector work, access to a computer while at school... small stuff but useful.
The thing that seems to have worked best for DS with his handwriting wasn't the grips or slopes or other gadgets, but a combination of time, and just sitting down and doing some every day (the school sends home a spelling sheet every night, which other kids just learn, but he copies out each word 5 times). He still finds it very tiring, but it was just slowly working his hand strength up.
OT weekly (not doing right now, as we've moved) on the other hand really helped him with his balance and larger movement - I was so proud the first time he went up to the 'big boys' slide and came down it on his own (he still doesn't trust swings though).
Are they at least understanding? For example, I had a long chat with our school about how DS absolutely will not remember to do things like bring his coat home unless you enforce a strict routine so it becomes a habit - and they help out with that marvelously and would never punish him for losing things.
I have to agree, that access to a computer, paper copies of projector work, advance notice of PE are a fair bit more work, and perhaps they don't have the resources? Can you book an appointment with the PE teacher so you can at least explain where he will have problems?
From your OP it sounds like it is more than a 'lack of resources' thing. The attitude they have had towards past things indicates that they do indeed not 'take dyspraxia seriously' but see it as something your DS can control, or a matter of you just having to teach him properly.
I should rather hope that most schools (like Mrz implies) are more clued up and do what they can.
Regarding the 'lack of resources' I find it a very sad, not to say shocking, state of affairs when providing a child with paper copies of projected/whiteboard work is seen as being beyond what a school has resources for.
Is it a case of not being able to afford paper/printing?
Or is it a case of causing too much extra work for the teacher (as the teacher has to print the work out after having prepared it for the whiteboard)?
If in work, this would be discriminatory. The child has a disability, and providing printed work would definitely fall under 'reasonable adjustment'; failing to provide reasonable adjustment is discrimination. But it seems that disabled children are not afforded the same protection against discrimination...
(I do understand that schools are stretched beyond reasonableness already. Of course it hits the most vulnerable most.)
Yes OP - my (dyspraxic) son is now at a specialist Dyslexia/Dyspraxia school. I found that mainstream both didn't have the time/found his dyspraxia a "problem" and lowered expectations accordingly. One of the key turning points for me was the school report on sport - where it was absolutely obvious that that there was zero communication or understanding. Please PM me if it would be helpful
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
I wish I could say it was simply funding, but I fear not. I suspect it is a lack of understanding.
The fact they don't do simply things like saying "next half term we'll be doing cricket for PE" suggests to me that they don't understand the anxiety a Dyspraxic child has when faced with a new or challenging activity. Equally when moving plates and glasses for a rota we were not informed before hand and no extra assistance was given.
I have offered to purchase everything I can, but my offers have been refused. I will try again.
In the meantime anyone who has tried alternative schooling I would very much like to hear from.
Hi Tango. Sounds like a familiar story to ours sadly.
I agree that is not simply funding and I feel we were very badly let down by our local school.
We removed our DS at the end of year 2 and sent him to Fairley House in London.
Well. What a transformation! They gave us our son back. He will never 'enjoy' sports but at least there he would take part. They found he had an incredible reading and spelling ability, well above his age, both of which had been totally missed at his previous school as he had been pretty much labelled as stupid. Horrendous.
The school is wonderful but hideously expensive. There was no real likelihood of us getting a statement so we paid ourselves. However, we have had to move now in order to keep him in a school for specific learning difficulties. PM me if you'd like more info.
I do hear of some state schools with fabulous provision but not often sadly. After the first couple of weeks at Fairley House I found myself so angry that so many children miss out on this standard of specialist education. We were in the extremely fortunate position to be able to afford it.
On another note though, are you a member of the Dyspraxia Foundation? They have huge amounts of knowledge and information on their website.
Good luck with your decision making. Your boy will be fine because you're looking out for him x
DS diagnosed at 7, fantastic help throughout state primary, nothing at secondary and excellent at uni. It is a huge issue, even now for my DS as a postgrad. Of course your school should do more but DCs are at home more than at school, so I would get in touch with the Dyspraxia Foundation and do lots at home. And explain to your DS that it's not his fault. I'd like to say it gets easier but I don't know that it does. Having a diagnosis certainly helps.
Have you had a meeting with the class teacher? Does he/she show any form of understanding at all? If school is unsupportive I'd look round your other state options, this is more an individual school problem I think than a state v private one.
Mind you, you are lucky to have diagnosis so young. DD1 was year 11 ...
You will hopefully find a secondary that is more supportive.
My DS was dx dyspraxic at the age of 7; 23 years ago. We were lucky with his primary in that the SENCO was very open to suggestions and he got a wedge and special pens etc.
As far as any other help went, he got an OT assessment and 6 weeks of OT provided by the NHS, then that was it. He got most help from a private cranial osteopath who we paid for from age 8 to 18.
DS2 is clearly dyspraxic but not so much as DS1. He went to an independent Junior school but I will caution that unless it is a specialist school for dyspraxia etc, private schools are not really geared up for SEN.
Our youngest has ADHD and dyslexia and I am quite sure she is also dyspraxic. She goes to a primary in quite a rough area with a high % of SEN. Our SENCO is fantastic and over the years has provided OT, intervention groups, special equipment, chew toys, a wobble cushion. It wasn't the school I wanted for her but they have been absolutely fantastic. Speaking to other mums at various groups I realise we have been incredibly lucky with the SEN provision at our school. As she is in Y6 I am now worrying what will happen at secondary.
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