Here are some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on SN.
Would really appreciate people's thoughts on this as it is going round and round in my head.
Saw Ed Psych yesterday at last re DD's school for next year. She was very very good indeed, welcoming of my opinion, knowledgeable and aware of DD's needs and issues.
I half wanted to keep her at nursery for another year (it's easy to defer here if they are still 4) but sort of knew that although she enjoyed it it was perhaps just the soft option and not best for her in long term (she doesn't sit still and just plays on her own and joins in the songs).
The Ed Psych basically said that she needs more input than she is getting now, and needs to go to special school, one for children with severe learning difficulties, for at least a couple of years, to work on her language. The language units attached to mainstream here, where she would love to place DD, need a child to have SOME language and conversation and even the moderate special schools here require a child to be able to sit still and turn-take.
This concerned me slightly as I have always felt DD is very bright and the professionals don't seem aware of this. DD appears like a small toddler with no understanding. I didn't want her to be consigned to a school that wouldn't push her enough later, when/if she starts speaking.
She was starting to read at 2 before she regressed, knew all her shapes and numbers, and generally seemed like a bright child. Now she has physical difficulty in speaking as well as having had an ASD-type regression (no DX yet).
However the Ed Psych was great, took this all on board, said she would make it clear in the application that DD has great potential and she doesn't see this as a long term placement, she might move later to a language unit or the other special school, definitely by age 8.
The school they are talking about has small classes of 6, pretty much 1 to 1, and desks are separated so children don't get distracted. On paper it is perfect for DD..as the Ed Psych said her number 1 problem is her total distractibility.
On the other hand she loves mainstream nursery and the other children, and a lot of the children at this school will have severe behavioural issues (DD doesn't and is gentle and quiet). I feel she will be missing out on interaction, although is this a moot point as DD doesn't interact, just smiles shyly at the children? The children in mainstream love DD at the moment and try to play with her, which is great, I am aware that this might not be the case as she gets older though!
Also, the Ed Psych said she might not like it as they will have to work hard on getting her to "dance to their tune" (accept instruction) and not just do her own thing. Which is true, but DD might suffer and be unhappy.
I do want to do the best for her though, she is starting to speak, she is bright IF she wants to learn and I know she has potential with the right input.
Any advice MOST WELCOME.
Also, I don't feel home schooling is an option, I physically/mentally need some respite while DD is at school, she is so exhausting and we get none from SS, and I don't feel I have the skills/training to educate her, she seems like the worst case of ADHD I have ever seen.
What a worry for you. I'm not really experienced in this, but when you said
' DD appears like a small toddler with no understanding. I didn't want her to be consigned to a school that wouldn't push her enough later, when/if she starts speaking.'
Unless you are very fortunate and track down the right school, this has much more chance of happening in MS school IMO.
I know that's not what you wanted to hear, but I'm trying to be honest.
Oh I know that's true. That is what is happening in mainstream nursery.
i am really quite glad I seem to have a good Ed Psych on board who will help me find the right school. The Nursery Head is going to come to visit the schools with me as well, to try to find the right place for DD, although there isn't a huge choice and of course places are limited!
That sounds like a good plan, you have been fortunate with the Ed psych. The one involved with DS was fantastic too, and very good at listening first.
I think they would want something like a split placement later, but feel she needs intensive input first to get her up to speed with her language and interaction, which I suppose makes sense.
DD would suffer in mainstream I feel, or gain nothing, the classes are very big here and she is struggling in a nursery class of 20.
Fanjo, have you been to see the school that Ed psych recommended?
could you picture your dd there, smiling shyly at the other children? see her fitting in with what was happening in the classrooms?
or would she be equally distracted by the behavioural issues that may be shown? and maybe distressed by some of it?
we had great ideas for a place ina unit for dd1 (ASD unit, attached ot mainstram) but when it came to it, she would not have fitted in, as there were a coule of very challenging children in her peer group, and she owuld have spent most of her time there withdrawing, and feeling scared, quite frankly. so no matter the expertise, the facilities, and the understading formt he staff - could you see you dd fitting in, calmly, being happy enough to progress?
I agree to an extent with Goblin, BUT I would add that ime, this is just as likely to happen in SN schools. It really does come down to the individual school. dd1 attended one of the best respected ASD pre-schools, where she was overlooked, ignored, and her wishes and hates over-ridden in the interests of "fitting in"
she was absolutely miserable, and went, in an instant form being a happy, chatty, smiley little girl who is never quiet to a silent withdrawn child who barely interacted as she stepped over the threshold each day. it was heartbreaking.
I would be VERY wary of sendign your dd (obviously I don't know her, but form what you have written here - ie not necessarily a concern over learning difficulties, as she was/is able to learn) to an SLD school. dd1 was being pushed towards this, years ago now. she does have some learning difficulties, but the extent of it is unknown.
the school she was supposed ot go to was wonderful - really really great, if that is what dd1 had needed. but they would have failed her dismally, as they were not set up to tackle her issues, and to be very frank, it would have been childcare rahter than education for her.
if you feel that your dd needs the role models that children in a unit, or in MS, can provide, then you are perfectly entitled to ask for this.
but you equally need to check out whether MS would end up being just childcare for your dd as well.
It is a real minefield.
But go and look around as many schools as possble. all of them in your area - don't rule anyhting out or in at this stage. even look at the private schools - you might come across a settign where you think "this is what dd needs" and then you will know what you are fighting for
I do feel DD has severe learning difficulties at the MOMENT as her distractibility means she cannot/will not learn, she has learned very little in a year at MS nursery. This is why I wouldn't totally rule out the SLD school for a couple of years as long as she could move out of there if her communication took off and it was the wrong setting.
The Ed Psych said it was in no way the correct long term setting for her, but it was at the MOMENT, which is probably right.
Not sure though, she said we could disagree with her suggestions but I got the impression we would be turned down for anywhere other than the SLD school.
I 'm also not experienced in this, but i do know about having to change schools to make a difference to my DS's education.
It is the curse of being a parent that we never know if we are making the best decision for our DCs. The best we can hope for is making the best informed decision from the choices that we have at the time. If they prove not to be working out, then as a caring intuitive parent, you will seek to resolve it.
There are many many levels of mainstream. OFSTED doesn't even scratch the surface of what constitutes a good school for any SN/SEN. In my limited experience, from myself and friends, MS Base schools are much better at integrating a child with potential than just a MS. Specialist schools work very hard on the behavioural/emotional side possibly at the expense of the educational.
My DS also does kumon - to bolster his maths (his choice, strange lad!), and there are lots of other tutors, programmes etc out there to help without going down the home ed route if you're worried.
If the choice is wrong, or is right to start with, but not for long, then you always have the option to change. Sometimes it's another fight, or in my case, 1 phone call and a visit!
Main thing is not to punish yourself. You are making every attempt to get the decision right. A change of HT, a different teacher etc have just as much to do with things as the school, and you can't alter that at all.
Good luck - it's a hard decision.
MS at the moment is DEFINITELY just childcare for DD, like a nice creche where she plays and sings, so I do agree with the Ed Psych that she needs more than that!!
Thanks all, by the way, your input is greatly appreciated.
Thanks, auntevil, I will try not to beat myself up about it, it's a very hard decision though, on top of our other worries about DD.
An MS Base school would be ideal, and the Ed Psych was really wistful about it, and would LOVE to send DD there but feels she wouldn't cope with it..yet! (there is hope)
I think you need to checkout the schools. A good special school will hlp her meet her potentail and know when she is ready to integrate or move on.
My ds when younger had similar difficulties. I knew he was bright but he was really unable to access mainstream properly until he learned what school was about, the assemblies, sitting down, turn taking. I found that special provision had the time to really work on these areas and he moved into a mainstream school with support in year three. He is now in a specialist placement attached to a mainstream secondary and this is right for him.
I'm not saying this is what is right for your daughter, mor that there should be enough flexibility in the system to make sur her needs are correctly met at each stage of her schooling.
Sounds like you have a good EP, good luck.
She also said she would try to sort out more support/SALT for DD over next six months, and that she would love it if DD's language took off and she could get her into the language unit/MS base before then!
maddiemostmerry, your situation sounds very similar to mine, I am glad it has worked out for you and you have found what is right for your DS.
The Ed Psych has 38 years of experience, apparently, so we are fortunate really. She will probably retire soon though!!
It's really hard to make the decisions so know what you are going through.
My ds was also very easy going and found childrn with challenging behaviour difficult so find out what strategies the schools would us to deal with this.
I DO see what you are saying re: distractibility being a facotr in her learning.
ime (and I stres, ime ONLY) the SLD schools we were pushed otwards for dd1 had very low aims and expectations. their whole purpose, it seemed, was to get the sitting still and not fidgettign onside. they ignored everyhting we said wrt dd1's abilites, and talke dup their use of the snesoryroom, (for eg) as a calming influence. but to our (untutored) eye, it looked more liek the sensory room was there to provide relief and respite for the staff - dd1 loved it, and of course she would calm down to get in there. but once there, it was the equivalent (for her0 of being plugged in tot eh tv all day. yes, she might learnt he odd thing, but tha tis not education. in fact, I recall the teacher showing us around being ecstatic that dd1 had pushed a button to change the colour of bubbles in the bubble tube.
dd1 was, at the time, recognising all her letters and numbers, knew all her colours, and cause and effect etc. and what did they expect of her? that she would pay attention to mesmerising bubbles, and push a button occasionally.
they honstly had no (well meaning) clue. it really was about crowd control, and the emphasis was very much on life sills. which are very important, but I did not want ot consign dd1 to somewhere where they were more focssed on gettign her to wash up than they were on getitng her to read.
the problem I would see with oyur Ed Psych's current plan is: how sure are they that they are going to be able to bridge the education gap for your dd?
in the couple of years she spends there (ed psych talking about moving on by age 8?) are they goig to address her learning skills, as well as her social ones? no point going (if you want her to move on form there) if, by the time she is ready to move on in terms of attention skills, but the rest of her peers are so far ahead academically that she would not fit in.
it might be better to try to find somewhere whch addresses all the areas.
you say places are thin on the ground.
whereabouts are you with Statementing? it must be underway at least for the ed psych to be talking about SN school.
really look around - look at every possible option - remember, if a school is named on your dds statement you are entitled to transport too, which can open up options. and private SN schools/units, as well as state ones.
aside from the ABA school dd1 now attneds, the best option we saw for her, ironically, was MS (you couldn't get more of a polar opposite!) and that was due to the Head there- we woudl have been able to set up a fantastic learnign environment for dd1 (school was mixed year, which is why we didn't go for it int he end)
We are in Scotland, so the process is different and children don't have statements.
I asked the Ed Psych about this and she said if DD is reading and writing ANY school will address this and work on it with her, I just hope that was true.
silverfrog.. I have had the same experience in MS nursery, under "creative play" they wrote that DD was "examining her hands"..and under "learning" they said she learned how to press the buttons on the TV...DD learned that as a baby!!
Go and visit the school- you have written that dd will 'suffer in mainstream' and is 'struggling in a class of 20' I agonised over whether to put ds in SN school;it was the right choice for him-When I was looking at all the schools,one lovely head told me that the children who suffered most were the children who had come to the school later- had been in ms school,couldn't cope and their confidence was badly dented- It is a hard choice,keep looking and keep your options open-good luck
oh, i see.
how easy is it for children to move between schools?
eg, if your dd goes to the SN school, how likely isi ti that there iwll be a place for her in MS when she is ready to move on?
how does funding for 1-to-1 work? is it allocated to the school, or is it ringfenced for your dd?
you really need to go nd see the schools, and see what they say. I would not accept somehting just becasuse an ed psych says it is so (bitter, me?) - working on reading/writing can be, in some schools, colouring in letters of the alphabet, or it can be working on extending knowledge and stretching a pupil - all depends on the interpretaion.
the most important hting to look out for when visiting schools is whether you can see another child like your dd. try to visualise her there.
don't be so grateful that people are taking her needs seriously that you accept what they are saying they can/will offer (not saying you are liek this, btu I really do know how it feels to NEED respite from your child, and to grasp at ANY placment because it meant that dd1 would not be next to me poking/prodding/pestering/demanding all that I can give and then some for a few hours each day)
Yes, I asked about moving, and she said children are often moved upwards, i.e. into mainstream as there are so few special school places.
The funding is ringfenced for DD but can also be removed at any time, which is a worry.
Am definitely going to see the schools in the New Year.
I visited several nurseries, had a great feeling about DD's one and indeed it is a fabulous nursery with wonderful staff, just not perhaps the right setting for DD now, I wasn't so aware of her issues when applying.
oh yes, fanjo, I have had similar reports, when dd1 was in MS too. I remember her nursery being over the moon one day when I picked her up (reports all year had been that she was happy, settled, joining in to the best of her abilities) - what had she done? picked up a toy and looked at it
I ws soooooo , and nursery couldn't work out why - surely I should be pleased by her progress?! (dd1 was completing complicated shape sorters at home, and knew the difference between a square/rectangle/trapezium/rhombus - she was 20 months old)
honestly there is no right answer, wrt MS or SN school. it all depends on the individual chid, and individual school.
we too were very wary of placing dd1 somewhere where her confidnece got too dented, or where she struggled too much, or where she grew too complacent and learned that school was to play to your own agenda...
it is very difficult, but I would agreew ith whoever said that you make a decision based on the best info avvailable at the time.
dd1 has now attended:
been home educated for a while, and is now in an ABA school full time. she is 6. tht's a lot of schools, but it was necessary (in part for us to understand what was right/wrong but mostly to prove to the LEA what was right/wrong.)
she is in the right place now, and that is what counts most.
I might get flamed here, but IMO - and it is only that - we get too hung up in this country on learning at an early age. I like my DCs to enjoy the school experience, to feel valued, happy and safe. They are in an apparently failing school, but they are developing just as i had hoped.
So many other countries don't start their formalised education till their DCs are older and the results by the time they leave are often better all round than ours.
I went to school in this country at an early age and i do not remember any teaching on the 3Rs until the junior part of school. 7/8 seems to me to be a good age to say, right, it's time to put all the play into action and start the formal side of learning.
I say this as my DS went to the wrong school to start and moved in year 1. His nursery agreed with me that he had regressed in all areas over this time. Within a year and a half at his new school, he was a good year or so above his age group. If a child has potential, they will learn, even if it is at a later age. A happy childhood cannot be regained.
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