I don't trust my judgment any more(11 Posts)
This is a long story.
Last year DS1 started school. This September DS2 is due to start at the same school. Both boys have Autism, neither has a statement (although we have been fighting for this).
Initially on looking around this school the head was very 'can do' about their special needs, didn't think their lack of continence was a problem and was very positive. It helped that the school was very local to us.
Once DS1 was down to go there though the pressure started. I was to get him toilet trained as they were not going to change his pull ups. At the time DS1 had a phobia of toilets. I spent the last summer holidays with DS1 screaming the place down traumatised but against the odds he was more or less continent (with the odd accident) on starting school in September last year.
DS1 is also still not at school full time. He attends five mornings and four afternoons now - but it only got to that a couple of weeks ago. Previous to this it was five mornings and two afternoons. He starts school three quarters of an hour after the rest of the children despite having proved he can cope with participating in a line up in the playground. He is not allowed to attend assembly and he is not allowed to stay at lunch time, we have to travel and collect and return him at the beginning and end of lunch. This as well as picking DS2 up from preschool. Makes lumch times very tight for time and stressful.
He is not participating in school events properly. For example the carol concert and the school production he was just sat next to me in the audience watching the rest of the school performing. He could easily cope with participating, all he would need to do is sit next to the teaching assistant. I'd be quite happy to remove him if this didn't work. They don't even try to include him in these events.
When DS1 started school Portage were very good with helping transition. They suggested strategies such as a visual timetable to help him settle in class. The school have set this aside and will use it 'when he has a statement'. All other advice from speech therapy, the social communication team etc are set aside for 'when he gets a statement'.
So the head is involving all the correct agencies and getting in touch with organisations to help, but their advice is not being implemented until he gets a statement. In the meantime he's flailing, he's not picking up reading or writing at all. He is absorbing facts and retaining them mentally.
Portage were trying to organise transition for DS2. All along the head has been obstructive. She's started on the toilet training pressure already, despite DS2 having a problem with his genitals which makes toilet training impossible at the moment. As soon as it is possible to do so we will do it. Once again he's been turned down for statutory assessment so we're fighting for it.
Yesterday there was due to be a meeting at the school - multi agency with portage, the parent partnership, DS2's keyworker in attendance as we hadn't thrashed out some key issues to DS2 starting in September. The head cancelled this meeting with 20 minutes' notice despite the fact people were travelling from all over the county to get there - they all arrived at the school to be met in the car park by the head being particularly brusque and telling them the meeting wasn't needed.
The agencies involved are shocked and stunned, she's done this with just a few days notice to the end of term. They've never seen anything like it in the years they have been working for education. So now DS2 isn't going to get the transition he needs into school. Portage tried to contact the school but she flat refused to take their calls and told the secretary to tell them she wouldn't take their calls.
I'm sure I could think of a million and one other things - they don't discuss things with me they tell me what is happening. They steam roller over my input into meetings. DS1 isn't getting the support he needs and I'm not confident that DS2 will get that either.
So after much agonising (we've been considering this since last October but Parent Partnership persuaded us to hang in there) we have decided we are moving them to a different school. Actually after yesterday and the cumulation of events in the past year Parent Partnership now agree this is the best course of action.
My problem is that nobody can advise me which schools around here are particularly good with special needs. I am terrified that I am going to jump out of the frying pan into the fire and put them in another school that will treat them badly. After I have fucked up so royally in my initial decision on what school to send them to I really don't trust my judgment any more and I don't know what to do.
Apparently none of the schools in my town are 'that great on inclusion' - the opinion of a few of the health care providers we see with the boys.
What the hell do I do?
Thought about Home Education? There are some lovely groups around that provide opportunities for children to join in with things, and it is a lot less stressful than you might think. Speaking as a mum with two autists, a lot of their problems are caused by having to fit in with school, ie need help to get to panto rehearsals etc, which can be very slow to get help for. The head MIGHT have been trying to make things so bad that a statement was more likely, but that would be a very charitable take. What about the SENCO? Have you complained to the Governors? Your Local Authority should be able to help you, but it's a shame you haven't yet got statements. Are you in touch with all the advocates you could be? There must be local groups, and there are definitely national groups that could help with the statements.
Presumably your dc could cope at mainstream with the correct support and that is why you've struggled to get them statemented?
I don't have experience but it sounds like you need to concentrate on the fight to get them statemented because without that no school will get the extra funding they need to support them.
I am disgusted by the head btw.
You need info from local parents of dc with SEN to see if you can find a school that is more supportive.
Are there any schools in the locality with specialism in autism?
The head is the SENCO.
Which is appalling.
There is a school with an autism unit but they won't take them without a statement. The LEA won't even allow statutory assessment so no chance of statement.
Problem is as CarGirl says they can cope in mainstream IF THEY HAVE APPROPRIATE SUPPORT - that is way more than 20 hours a week by the way and yet the LEA still won't statutory assess. The other parents I know locally have places in the school with the unit or a MLD school (but their kids are lower functioning) or they travel out of town to the outlying village schools.
I have had an education law firm recommended to me, am going to take advice from them how to proceed against the LEA.
I would name and shame the school and see where, how & who you can report her too. Before that though can you written evidence from the other agencies that she cancelled that meeting at short notice and refused to take their calls?
What are the laws regarding an LEA having to statement?
Can you speak to any other HT off the record and see if they can help you, ie accept your dc and then they go straight to the LEA saying that child clearly has SEN and needs urgent assessing for statement? Would that force the LEA to act?
first of all <,hugs>>, i've neen in a fairly similar situation, it sucked and completelydevastated mt confidence in ability to make decisions
Have you tried approachgng whatever your local ersion of SNAP is? I found their face when I mentioned which school the boys attended told me enough. Popping along to a local SN event or twoc an be incredibly enlightening- via the local SN rugby team I discovered the people who had been in our place at the school before us and was astounded at some stories.
Even the LEA bloke tells aprents pur school has a crap rep for SN now!.
Our Head was SENCO and set it up years ago (the senco job, school been there since 1747 IIRC) and even now the SENCO is the dep head- she'd been a crap senco for years and when she was promoted the LEA officially washed their hands of it but recruitment is done by a special trust due to an anomally of our school, trust is chaired by SENCO's Godfather. FFS.
Now I am at a stage where I have no child in that school. DS3 is in an SNU, the other two are in MS Juniors (one with a statement, ds2 has IEP as well due to Non ASD SEN). Juniors isn't perfect but blimey they care.
The day in April I went over to the Juniors and didnt have to stop at the infants I felt as if ten tonnes had been taken off my shoulder, hadn't even relaised how bad it had been.
I now have to make a decision about placing ds4 in a few eyars time, DH is of the opinion that local is everything, me I am aware that ds4'schances of having no SEN at all arelow and there ain't no chance. The SENCO would contest the palcement anyway (though we are in a guaranteed place criteria- again due to anomaly of founding). I'd rather take him to the oft looked down uon council estate school up the hill. Nice, friendly and give a damn.
So- I guess what I am saying is don't feel bad, the upset you are experiencencing is both normal and understandable. the bst ting IMO is to buiod as many community links as possible to get info and support, SN community I mean over locall, and keep fighting. Goodluck.
BTW as an example that you're not alone- when SNAP called the former Head to ask about ds1's support, she didnt relaise she was on speakerphone and told him they all knew ASD was caused by bad aprenting anyhow. I was quite glad she did that, enabled me tosee her for what she really was.
I would make a formal complaint to the LEA about the school, you could also complain to OFSTED - I think OFSTED now have to include SN in all their reports on schools. Heads HATE OFSTED inspections so that would be a great way of getting your own back. Contact your local NAS branch and ask if other parents can recommend other schools - even if nowhere is that great if you go where there are other children with similar needs at least you will have strength in numbers! Is there anywhere over a boundary you could look at? Ask the LEA for an emergency meeting and if they will reconsider the statement issue given your child is being effectively excluded. You could also ask if they would arrange for someone to teach your child at home until you can find a new school. (Fat chance but it might make them do something to sort it out). Also contact your MP!
Sorry, haven't read all of this in detail but I can really understand what you are experiencing.
DD is now 7 and has Down Syndrome, approached school that older DS attends when DD was 2 and a half- asked for opinions of how they felt they could cope, very little speech at that point, visual and hearing impairments, gross and fine motor delay, memory issues, sensory issues....school said not a problem, had staff that could sign, new physio room being set up...blah, blah, blah.
It was a very long battle, DD who was being sucessfully toitet trained at home took a huge step back- no one was supporting her and the wondered why she would take herself off and wander out of the classroom. Attitiude of SENCO, we don't want to teach her to sign, we want to teach her to talk....DERRRR!!! Banged my head against a brick wall and decided I would be waiting forever for the school to start statementing process so I started it myself. LEA refused to access her needs so I took it tribunal with the support of IPSEA. The day I submitted papers to the tribunal services, the LEA backed down and agreed to statement.
She was eventually statemented for 20 hours + 8-10 that she was suposedly already getting on school action +. This was all finalised in May 07 and the school then sat on it and didn't put anything into place until Sept 07 when she started in Y1.
It has been a battle all the way and in March I threatened tribunal yet again to get her into the local SN school. Not really what I wanted, DD should have and could have coped at mainstream but no provisions were being made for her and the school had no intention of doing so. There were over 50 families trying to get one of 6 places in the SN school and we were lucky enough to be one of them.
With us it is very much a case of budget in the manistream schools as our LEA doesn't fund the individual statemented children, just a general SN budget so of course the school is going to oppose having to actually spend their money on the children with SEN!!!
I am still very bitter about the system, as if my DD isn't worthy of an education. I thought of home ed at some stages through that, but then I thought why? That way the MS schools don't have to include or differentiate and the LEA also gets off scott free and doesn't have to provide a placement at the SN school.
Sorry, not sure if this will help you at all, but I would say, GET those statements sorted- whatever happens it will hopefully open up options for you later on- fight if you need to, get Parenting Partnerships and IPSEA involved, if necessary, local papers and councillors too!
I would contact IPSEA in the first instance who will support you in getting a statement for both of your children and can rescommend specialist lawyers if needed.
As for finding the right school, I think maybe you need to remove both children and concentrate on getting statements first.
Really with tight statements most schools are possible so long as you have a SENCO willing to go the extra mile but an added advantage is that you get preferential treatment when choosing a school too so can choose the best.
I think it may be worth your time contacting the disability rights commission regarding the behaviour of the last head and they will be able to advise on how schools cannot refuse your children because of toiletting issues as well as other handy info.
Other good sources of support are SOS!SEN and ACE but be warned they are all incredibly busy so you have to be persistent to get through. Good Luck
Join the discussion
Please login first.