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S.E.N and choosing a school

(9 Posts)
myBOYSareBONKERS Sun 23-Sep-12 15:14:55

My son has just been diagnosed as having mild-moderate autism.

He is in main stream education and although he "copes" he doesn't reach his potential due to his issues.

It is highly unlikely he will get a statement as he doesn't exhibit behavioural issues (At least not at school anyway hmm )

Even though he is only in year 5 we have been advised by his head teacher and psychiatrist to look round the secondary schools now to get an idea of what they can offer him. But I dont know what I am looking for or what to ask!!

Has anyone got any thoughts or suggestions?

Many thanks in advance. I am also going to put this in the special needs section.

microcosmia Mon 01-Oct-12 02:01:22

Hi we've been down this road (mainstream secondary and ASD) and it's very wise to start looking from 2 years before.

Ask what their policies are re SEN, inclusivity, bullying etc, ask about IEP's and learning supports, how many SEN children are in the school, what experience have they of ASD, how are the children's needs met, how well resourced is the school to offer support, how are resources allocated, what supports are available or likely to be available to him, ask about learning outcomes and educational progression of other SEN pupils. This will tell a lot about the school's expectations for the children.

Approachability is a HUGE factor. We turned down a school where this was lacking. As a parent of an SEN child you may need to interact with the school more often and this should be welcomed, if it's not encouraged it's not a good sign in my book. Also consider distance issues and opportunities for integration. will he know anyone etc. Do you know any parents of ASD kids and what was their experience of secondary school options?

I'm in Ireland and the system is different re resources but the issues are the same. Visit the schools get a feel for the approach and attitudes - this will tell a lot in itself (did for us anyway). Try imagining your child there - you may just get a sense the place is a good fit or not. Be flexible too, it may mean letting go of the school you thought you wanted for the one he needs.

We went to 8 schools over 3 years and most were very open, except the local one which his school fed into and which we originally wanted. We tried to engage them but we had to give in eventually and go elsewhere. In hindsight it was for the best but it didn't feel like that at the time. We applied to 4 and he was accepted in all. We went for one out of catchment with the most "can do " attitude. He's only started so time will tell but so far he's happier than he was in primary and is doing well.

Good luck with your search, if you need to ask anything else feel free.

auntevil Mon 01-Oct-12 11:18:52

Who told you that your DS would not get a statement?
You do not need the school's permission to apply for a statement. If you feel that your DS is only just coping and not able to reach his potential then there might be some evidence that he has an educational need.
I have a DS in year 5 - who is unlikely to get a statement as he is academically achieving well, but has disabilities that mean he will need 'a good and well managed transition to secondary'. It fills me with horror and have been looking around schools this year to get an idea - making sure I visit their SEN dept.
Realistically, I will choose a school for his academic abilities. Then by SEN department - can I communicate with them. It is likely that over the years I will have a lot of contact.
I would always be wary of any SEN dept that say that they know exactly what to do for autism etc. Every child's transition to secondary is different and they will all have areas that need more support than others. Can you sit with the SENco and discuss, how do they pass the info on to all the different teachers etc

Swiddle Mon 01-Oct-12 18:56:54

You should be able to meet with the SEN staff at the school open days, or even drop them an email to ask how they cope with kids like your child. They are very likely to have had quite a few such kids pass through their school.
From my similar situation, it seems that mainstream schools are well versed in assisting kids with moderate autism, offering quiet rooms for when there is sensory overload, or finding an alternative to the school canteen, or even allowing a child to wear earphones in class to cut out background distractions. How that pans out in practice, we'll see in time.
Why not post on the Special Needs board too?

basildonbond Mon 01-Oct-12 20:35:14

it is a myth that you can't get a statement if your child is achieving well academically

both my ds's have statements and both are exceptionally academically able, however their difficulties mean that they need extra support and help in order to be able to reach anything like their true potential - part of ds1's statement is because of his academic ability

to be successful, secondary transfer needs to be managed well and probably needs extra cash attached to the child to achieve this

both ds's got additional 'transitional' funding to cover the first couple of years in secondary (and in ds1's case that was on top of getting the highest level of funding our notoriously stingy LEA provides in a mainstream setting)

it's worth asking now as it's actually in everyone's best interests that the transfer goes well - as the SENCO at ds1's secondary explained, if it all goes pear-shaped it will cost the LEA an awful lot more if they have to fund a new placement, possibly in an expensive specialist setting

auntevil Tue 02-Oct-12 09:37:55

It is considerably harder to get a statement for an academically achieving child - in this Borough definitely.
This Borough will only accept if there is lack of progress, or significant difficulties relative to peer group - that cannot be supported by SA or SA+.
The Inclusion director at the school I prefer has said that no child with dyspraxia has had a statement in her 10 years at the school. They have strategies in place. No extra time is given for the entrance exam either - regardless of whether historically they have had in a previous setting (although for exams once in school, extra time applies)

myBOYSareBONKERS Tue 09-Oct-12 17:31:16

Thanks everyone.

The school are refusing to apply for a statement as they said they do not have enough "evidence" to apply for one - and to be honest I can see their point of view but they have said they will support us if we want to go for one ourselves.

Due to this I feel that his IEP should then reflect the level of support that he needs. The last one was very wishy washy as we were awaiting the diagnosis. Below is what I feel should be in his IEP, but am I being realistic and thinking along the correct lines as to what it should cover and so the school can provide.

1) Verbal instructions for things like Homework/ bringing in certain stuff (Eg plastic bottles for an activity) or changes to previous instructions to be written down in a communication book.

2) Any problems in school (for example when he has a meltdown and tries to climb the fence to escape) to be written in book and also from home if there are things that may be affecting his behaviour.

3) Occupational Therapy exercises designed for him to help with his hyperflexibity and his sensory integration to be carried out everyday as suggested by his O.T. (I know for a fact they told his OT that they do this and dont!) and for it to be written in communication book when done (needs adult input for them to be carried out).

4) Handwriting input as letter formation is still poor, but if he is reminded eg. the tail of the letter g goes under the line - he can do it. So, with input it would become the "norm" for him to do this.

5) Reminders given about the lunchtime club as my son is often alone at break times as he doesn't enjoy football and forgets the clubs are on.

Is this realistic? Any other thoughts you may have I would be really grateful for

aroomofherown Wed 10-Oct-12 19:39:01

I would say that when applying for a statement you need to be very clear about what his needs are and why he needs exceptional funding to meet his needs. A statement is about the funding to meet needs that the school can't. Talk about his academic, physical and social/emotional needs and include evidence for each.

The LEA gets plenty of statement apps so just spell it out for them. You should argue that he is not meeting his academic potential because...and .... would help him to achieve his potential. Include any evidence you have for his potential ability (test results) and also his levels for the past few years. Say his physical needs aren't being met due to lack of staff at school etc. Also that socially he is falling behind. Try and get as many professional opinions as you can as well - EP, medical, OT, SENCo etc.

Sorry if that sounds garbled. Good luck.

mummytime Thu 11-Oct-12 07:37:05

The top thing I would look for in a secondary school is a SENCO who gets it. If you can find a really good SENCo then I would go for that school, although a statement would help massively there.

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