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Advice on Special School for ASD(8 Posts)
I'm beginning to post a bit more in this forum as DSS has ASD and we're at the beginning of the statementing process. DSS is eight next month, has huge problems at school, is hard to manage at home, and I'm trying to help DP decide what's best for him.
DSS is in a mainstream, CofE school. They don't seem to have had much experience of children with ASD at all. The school is pushing for a one-to-one statement for DSS, with the person giving the one-to-one experienced in teaching autistic children. They have already stated that they will assign a specific workstation to DSS (the other children sit together at tables) separate from the other children to try and help him concentrate. At the moment, the class TA spends most of her time with DSS.
We had a parents' meeting with the teacher last week. We looked at DSS' work, which was very behind his peers. Under each piece of work, the TA had written comments such as 'TA assisted. DSS very distracted and would not complete any work'. The only subjects that DSS will listen to and focus on are art and science. He also reads very well and has an amazing vocabulary. But he doesn't follow instructions, doesn't do the work asked, disrupts the class and is often sent out of the room to work alone.
We received more information from the school about what they're trying to help DSS to do. At the moment he sits too close to other children and "picks fluff from their jumpers", he doesn't have any friends and can't 'play' with other children, he has problems with soiling himself, he sometimes hides under the desks, shouts out, stims, gazes into space (a lot) and, unbeknownst to us, bites others (very occasionally).
Now, since we're beginning the process of statementing, following a ridiculously long time for DSS to be formally diagnosed, I'm keen to get other people's opinions on the type of provision that DS needs. IMO, I think that a Special School would be best. DP is reluctant to consider this. I feel that he is having a lot of trouble accepting DSS's autism and feels that by having him remain mainstream, then his son is still 'normal', whereas to send him to a Special School is like admitting that he's different.
I feel that small classes, one-to-one provision and the kind of facilities offered by the Special School nearby would be beneficial to DSS. But, I do have concerns that since DSS is very able, if he puts his mind to something, that being at a Special School could hold him back academically. Is this a legitimate concern? Would a child be stretched sufficiently in the areas that they excel in? Would DSS be able (looking to the future) to do GCSEs in physics or art (which he is passionate about and extremely knowledgable).
Any input gratefully received.
There are special schools which will cater for children of normal or potentially normal academic ability offering Gcses etc but (from our experience) very few in the maintained sector. I would suggest you arrange to visit suitable maintained and private special schools to get a better impression of whether they will suit your ds or not. Ofsted website is a good starting point for searching nearby schools.
I would look at both special and mainstream non faith schools. See as many as time allows you.
Has the LEA agreed to Statement as yet?. Who made the statement application?.
I would tell your DP to grow up and get over himself!!!. We are all different and we act as we are made. Am tired frankly of such attitudes, you don't have that luxury yourself of hand wringing. Tell him to read the NAS website and educate himself, knowledge is power after all. I have read of other DH's/partners on this forum expressing similar and honestly it does not help anyone.
Your DP needs to get his head out of the sand and denial because it is unfair for you to cajole and carry all this along presumably to date without much support from him. Some men do indeed find it harder than women to cope with if their child has SEN of any sort but at the end of the day its no point just hand wringing and subconsciously thinking that its a slight on their masculinity. That only delays things further and helps no-one. Its also not primarily about him and how he feels, its about his son. He is his son regardless of autism and if he really wants to help he would go all out to get his son the help and support he truly needs whether that means attending a special school or another mainstream school with an ASD unit attached.
I think it depends on provision where you are. In the area where I live the special schools do not really cater for more academically able children and there are few schools with ASD units. You need to find out what's out there. I would get a list together and visit them all, including some independent ASD schools to find what would be best for your dss before you approach the LA and commence battle! Maybe if your dp visits he will have a better, more informed idea about what would be best for his ds.
It doesn't sound like his school are currently helping him at all - he is not going to learn social skills by being seated away from the other children, although it makes life easier for the staff. It's good that they're supporting the statement application though.
I agree that most state special schools won't be suitable for your DSS if he is bright and capable of GCSEs. Most special schools in our county have pupils learning at P levels (i.e. below Level 1) and that's also damaging for a bright boy because they won't have a suitable peer group to interact with. You might be lucky enough to live in an LEA where they have special schools for brighter children, but there aren't many about.
It's very important that your DP steps up his game and starts thinking of his son's interests. I'm not sure how much input you'd be able to have as a stepmother. Once statementing starts, the legal definitions become more important and, for example, only someone with parental responsibility can sign documents or lodge an appeal. Your DSS's mother's views will also be considered, so it's important to work with her, unless she isn't on the scene at all.
I'm not sure that being sat with other children helps his social skills either, though, given that his behaviour has stayed the same and he is disrupting them. I do think that the idea of a workstation for him is good, because he's more likely to be able to concentrate on what he's supposed to be doing (I hope). DSS is massively distracted by sensory things - noise, lights, smell etc, so at least having his own space might calm him.
In terms of peer group, DSS' interaction with his peers isn't good. He is bullied, has no friends and cannot engage socially. His attempts to play with others generally end in tears or fighting. So I don't know that him being amongst other children with autism would be detrimental to him.
I'm not sure how much input I'll have as a stepmother, and that's something that we'll have to deal with, which is difficult because DP and his ex have a hugely acrimonious relationship and we have shared custody, so I have no idea what would happen if she disagrees with what DP thinks.
We live in West London, so I suppose there may be more schools in London that might cater for academically able autistic children (perhaps?). I suppose, though, the other thing that I'm thinking about, is that even in the areas that DSS is very able in (e.g. science), his learning at all other things is so hit and miss that if he could improve his overall learning at a special school, then this might be better in the long run for him, than excelling at one subject but no others at all.
There are some schools which are mainstream but have an ASD unit. The kids in the unit attend the mainstream betwen 20 - 80% of the time, and are in mainstream the rest of the time.
Something like this might really suit him. Able him to do art or whatever mainstream, but be taught in a more suitable enviroment for subjects he struggles with.
However it can be hard to find out which schools in your LEA have ASD units attached. So you might need to ring the LEA or parent partnership to find this out.
Then of course, the unit will almost certainly be full
I worked for a school for boys with AS and HFA a few years ago, and students were offered GCSE's. It's a term-time residential school, which could be hard for you, but students who put the work in left with 5 (or more) GCSEs.
In fact, I'm pretty sure I saw an ex key-boy of mine in the uniform of my local 6th form the other day; he went on the the same company's post-16 provision
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