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Meeting With Senco of New School

(19 Posts)
leiela Tue 31-May-11 16:48:32

I have a meeting with the Senco of the school my son will be going to for senior's.

Other than laying out the harsh reality of my son's condition (high funtioning Aspergers) What sort of things should i be asking for??

My son is dealing V.well in primary but its a school he's settled in and he's used to the routine and the children know him and his "quirk's" .

im terrified he'll be out of his depth in senior school. Baring in mind you only have to look at him wrong and he burst's into tears.. even a "general shouting at the class" about generally talking to much will often make him cry. He knows no-one at his new school, and im afraid a few emotional days in the begining will make him an outcast for the duration.

IndigoBell Tue 31-May-11 17:29:52

You need to discuss transition. He'll need more than most kids smile So hopefully some sort of transition starting now in July.

Does he have a statement? Will he be getting a TA? How will the TAs be organised? Per subject? Per day?

Will he need extra support at lunchtime? Do they have some kind of lunchtime club for vulnerable children?

Does he need a laptop?

Does he need to leave the room when he get's stressed? Will he need some kind of pass to leave the room?

leiela Tue 31-May-11 18:42:00

No he's not statemented, some crap about him needed to fail first. Basically because he's coping in primary everyone seem's unwilling to go down that route. Right now he needs very little additional support, he copes very well in a primary school enviroment with teachers he knows etc.

I do think the senior school enviroment is gonig to provide alot of challenges he doens't know anyone there for starters and i though he copes really well in a one class room one teacher situation where he doens't need to be very independent. As in primary they are very good at instructing him and hand holding.

In senior's he's going to be required to be alot more independent and honestly, speaking as the mum of the little boy who needs telling to "put his coat on" every single morning WITHOUT FAIL and who has to going hunting the school every 3:30 because he's lost it, Im not sure he's going to manage.

Honestly i can't imagine that he'll even know where his school bag is by 10 am every day (Even if it did make it into school) never mind which class he's supposed to be in and how to get there.

The problem is he doens't come across as being very ASD he comes across as highly intelligent and reasonably NT. Mostly he lacks focus on day to day task's if the task isn't important to him he doens't give it any concideration.

He continously looks for direction and instructions and without them he does nothing and drifts off into his own world. I often joke if the house was on fire he wouldn't think to leave unless someone told him too the sad things is part of me worry's it true.

At the moment, myself and school give him step by step instructions for most tasks. Im not sure senior school will be able to continue it though.

Al1son Wed 01-Jun-11 00:44:11

For a start he needs an IEP or pastoral support plan outlining what support he needs and how it will be implemented. You should be included in writing this and so should he.
He needs a card or pass to allow him to leave lessons and go somewhere safe when it gets too much.
He needs someone he can go to at the beginning and end of school to check he has everything he needs and help him to sort out any problems he has. His locker should also be in this place.
Does he have any sensory difficulties? Will he cope in a large busy dining room? If not he needs to eat early every day or be allowed to eat somewhere else.
You could help him prepare an information sheet about himself to distribute round his teachers explaining that he finds shouting stressful and how he is likely to express his stress. It should include and email address for staff to contact you if homework is not handed in so you can keep track of what he should be doing.
You need to ask to meet his tutor or whoever he registers with each morning and afternoon and work out a way to communicate about letters sent home, money needed, non-uniform days, etc.
DD1 is 14 and attends an Autism base in mainstream high school so I've been brainstorming the things they do for her. If you need more PM me and I'll have another think.

leiela Wed 01-Jun-11 07:20:26

wow thats brillant thanks Al1son, just what i was looking for.

He appears to have some sensory issues but they appear seem to be reasonably mild, I think he would manage in a diningroom if he had someone to sit with who could help him pick somewhere to sit as he struggles in a un-structured enviroment i could well imagine he getting confused and upset because there where lots of tables and no-knowing which to sit on because none where "his seat". Atm in primary school he has friends and he manages to happily follow their lead when it comes to picking a seat but he won't know anyone in senior school.

He is reasonably high functioning, which in many ways makes it harder because he doens't want to be seen to be treated differently from the other children, he gets very upset and frustrated when he gets confused and other children seem to be coping and he's not and tend to punish himself when he gets things wrong or forgets things and it hurts his confidance and self esteme and that in turn amlifies his difficulties.

Also im concerned that because in many ways he appear's NT teachers won't take his disability seriously, we've had trouble in the past where he's been treated as simply lazy or difficult when he get's confused and forgets things because he struggles to express himself and explain his difficulties. A forgotten text book is likely to get a shrug and a "I don't know where it is" and i think people take this "casual" attitude as flippancy. Sending him out of the classroom to go and find it is likely to just result in him wandering to hall's aimlessly untill a teacher finds him.

Also he doens't make friends naturally, friendships almost have to be forged for him he just doens't seem to know how to make that first move. I'm just not sure what his chances are of making friends after he's burst into tears 18 times on the first day, are any of the other kids going to want to make friends with the "cry baby" who is generally just abit wierd? Especially when the other kids need to be the ones to make the first move because he's just not sure how.

Part of me thinks he'd manage quite well if he had a buddy, someone who he could follow around school to lessons etc, because he copes much better when he has another child to follow. When he's with his little brother we have far less issues because he is able to "remind" DS1 where they need to be and what they need to do next, things like Ds2 putting his coat on reminds Ds1 that he needs to do the same etc. Unfortunatly all the other kids are likely to be confused in the first week or two as well and it isn't really fair or workable to tell one of them they have to keep my son with them, especially if my son is struggling.

It's really difficult as a parent to watch him sometimes, because he's NT enough to realise he's different and want to be treated normally, but he's ASD enough that it just doens't work.

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 01-Jun-11 07:26:33


Secondary is so very different to primary; it is a different world entirely and one which you as parent are on the outside looking in.

The whole process re transitioning to secondary should have started some considerable time ago by his primary school. The school should have arranged lots of visits to his new secondary school (he certainly needs to see his new form class and teacher). You should also now introduce yourself to the SENCO and his Year 7 pastoral support manager (if there is such a person within this secondary school. He/she oversees all the Y7s).

Many of these schools as well have no locker facilities; these kids are expected to carry around all their stuff all day long and be organised to boot. This is certainly what it is like in my son's secondary school.

I would certainly be grilling his secondary school SENCO asap and see how this person reacts. See also if this person comes up with anything concrete in terms of support and by that I do not mean an IEP.

He does not need to "fail" first; you know that is crap. I would personally apply for the statement myself and now. Secondary school can be a tough old place for anyone actually with ASD (lunchtimes can be a free for all) and these schools can be both too big and impersonal to support these children properly if they have any additional suppport need and particularly if they are not statemented.

mummytime Wed 01-Jun-11 07:49:25

I would also try to gage how much the SENCo really knows and understands. I know SENCos who are wonderful and immensely knowledgeable, but also very ready to listen. I also know SENCos who don't know that much and whose IEPs tend to contain lots of targets carried over from year to year. I also know someone with a similar title who's only knowledge seems to come from government directives.
You should ask about previous ASD pupils, and their outcomes, what they offer to such pupils, how much they use outside agencies and what for. Then express what you would like. It might also be useful to see how well the SENCo can communicate with your son, if possible before the new school year. Do also see if there is any extra induction for SEN pupils, can be very helpful.

IndigoBell Wed 01-Jun-11 09:36:09

Is your primary SENCO any good? She should be talking to the sec SENCO as well. Could you arrange a joint meeting for the 3 of you?

Al1son Wed 01-Jun-11 11:00:06

leiela your post above is a great description of your son and your concerns for him. You should print it and take it into a meeting with the SENCo and go through it point by point. Don't move on from each one until you have a solution you think will work.
Attila is right. He should not have to fail first. You know your son best and can prevent a lot of the possibilities of failure if they will allow you to.
A buddy system is perfectly possible but they need to make sure it will work properly. Lots of school seem to offer solutions which sound good but fail in practice.
He should also have an enhanced transition period where he has extra visits to the new school, the staff visit him in his current school to get to know him and the new SENCo needs to attend any meetings about him that happen this term.
The more coordinated you can get the transition process to be the more likely he is to succeed.
You have to harden yourself to being seen as a pushy over-protective mother. You're not and you are the one person in the process for whom your son's well-being is central. If you feel that something won't work say so and keep saying it until they offer something better.

leiela Wed 01-Jun-11 11:00:18

We only won our place at the school by appeal last week so unfortunataly the "transition" has been abit delayed, and it's half term this week will the SENCO be about do you think?

Al1son Wed 01-Jun-11 11:01:28

Quite possibly. It's amazing what you can achieve by ringing the school in the holidays sometimes.

Ineedalife Wed 01-Jun-11 12:18:23

When Dd1 went to secondary we were very worried about how she would cope, she has no dx but i believe she has AS. She only knew a couple of others from her primary.

We kept a copy of her timetable in the kitchen and colour coded the days, then we colour coded her books with felt tip on the cover so that she would know which books she would need each day.

It did help for the first year but with her loving routines she soon learnt which subjects she had each day and didn't rely on the colour coding.

Is he very good at anything? Dd1 was good at music. So she joined some clubs to meet like minded people, she made about 3 really good friends at her school who she is still in contact with.

As far as getting organised in the morning I would ttally recomend a visual timetable with each task such as get dressed, brush your teeth, pack your bag etc on strips of card and either stuck or velcroed on to a board so as he does the task he takes the strip off and puts it in an envelope or something.
It has worked wonders for Dd3[8] who can now get herself ready for school independently. It's fab for me too because I don't heve to say get your coat on 25 times every morninggrin

Hope some of this is helpfulsmile.

leiela Wed 01-Jun-11 13:14:10

Senco is off this week for the half term and i have a meeting with them next week anyway.

I'm just getting worried we are running out of time before the summer to get it all sorted, we picked the school because they seemed clued in on ASD so hopefully they will have some idea's.

I just know that if this is done right he'll do fine and make us all wonder what the heck we where worrying about, but if done wrong it could be a total disaster.

Its the indepence and socialising i worry about mostly, he's going to find it very hard to make friends he always does unfortunatly the few friends he has in primary are going to a school which would not have been able to cater for his needs so he's going to a school where he know's no-one.

He really likes computers and the school is a "maths and computers" specialist, i know they have lunch time computer clubs etc so i hope to get him involved in those.

Al1son Wed 01-Jun-11 16:00:09

"I just know that if this is done right he'll do fine and make us all wonder what the heck we where worrying about, but if done wrong it could be a total disaster."

Your target and everyone else's should be that it all goes a smoothly for your DS as it does for any other child. He should have sufficient support to facilitate an uneventful transition. I hope you manage it.

Just remember that "I he has a problem we will......" isn't good enough. It should be "In order to avert any problems we will...."

Good luck with your meeting next week.

flyingmum Wed 01-Jun-11 17:03:01

What we do with our Auties is to get them in a couple of times before they come - once with their existing TA but your son doesn't seem to have that - perhaps your son's primary SENCO can come too. Someone (suggest whoever it is from the primary) takes photos of key places, ie, form tutor room and dining hall. Someone needs to take notes of key things to remember - ie, queing system or hometime routines. Then after the visit OR on another visit the new pupil with new TA or, I suggest, another pupil from his primary school who is going to that school who might be a good buddy OR they will have other quirkies coming in make a book together about 'My New School' This means you can read it together and go over things over the summer holidays.

Do Not worry too much. It won't be just your son who loses everything within the first term - my NT son will be doing just the same at his new secondary school. Most boys do. Also from what you have written, your son has TONS of good skills. He is coping very very well where he is. This will be transferrable. There will be some transition and there will be some wobbly moments but not as many as you think. At our school we tend to put in ALLthe TA support into the year 7s for the first week (which pisses off the teachers of year 10s who need someone and I'm not totally sold on this system but it is great for the newbies). It may be that the SENCO will put some one to one support in for him for the first half term and then see. Also yours won't be the only quirkie. In fact your son sound pretty wonderful and a hell of a lot less quirky than my eldest and a lot of our incoming this year. It is likely that there will be pupils who are more severe and less high functioning.

He will manage. He will have the sense to follow his class around. There will be another kind person who will guide him. I recommend the library and places like the Warhammer club for finding similar types. All staff should be told about his social interrraction difficulties and you need to reiterate this. I deal with SEN pupils as part of my job. Most of my time is actually spent dealing with parents and managing their anxieties. The pupils are doing brilliantly! It is very normal to worry. I'm having heebie jeebies about my two who are both transitioining next year. Every other mother will be about their children into year 7. Staff know this. Just make sure the SENCO knows to brief her staff about what happens during a meltdown and the best way to deal with it.

Good luck.

IndigoBell Wed 01-Jun-11 17:11:00

Most of my time is actually spent dealing with parents and managing their anxieties - is that what my SENCO thinks of me blush

leiela Wed 01-Jun-11 17:39:00

He does have ton's of good skills and quality's... sometimes i feel all i ever focus on is the negative, but speaking as a proud mummy i'm very proud of how well he does cope concidering the difficulties.

I'm proud of how far we've actually got with him without a statement, he's certainly severe enough to warrent it, but i guess im just kinda keen to keep on trucking without waving a big banner over his head saying "woohooo im different"

He certainly doens't like a fuss being made over him i know he would hate a TA or 1:1 for example. He's only just found out about his ASD and i know the first thing he said to me is "I don't want everyone to know"

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 01-Jun-11 18:17:56


Re your comment:-

"I'm proud of how far we've actually got with him without a statement, he's certainly severe enough to warrent it, but i guess im just kinda keen to keep on trucking without waving a big banner over his head saying "woohooo im different"

I can see why you think that but in my case the statement has only been a blessing to my son and he certainly does not have a big banner over his head saying "whoohoo I'm different".

My son is at secondary and with a Statement. He is not all that "different" (besides which we are all different and act as we are made) from the other NT children and most of whom have accepted him for the person that he is. I can honestly say that they do not take a blind bit of notice of the fact that in some lessons (History for example) there is a TA helping my son by taking notes. Infact some of the children have gone out of their way to help him in the past as they do now.

Your son may start finding secondary school a real challenge, one that he may not get his head around at all easily and it could completely overwhelm him. I've seen the wheels come completely off for other non statemented children in secondary (primarily because their additional needs were not met either there or at primary) and its ain't pretty.

I hope you get on okay with the SENCO at your meeting.

Statements can also be used for social/communication needs as well, they're not just for academic needs. With a statement he will have more chance (as will you) of being taken more seriously by some of his school teachers. If he is treated exactly the same as the others with regards to homework etc that could really go against him (for instance a consistent lack of focus could be misconstrued as naughtiness by a teacher).

Good luck with your meeting and preempt the problems before they start. Lay it on the line to them re your son, fully make them aware of his additional needs and firmly establish what they will exactly do to help him with transition, helping him with timetables and lunchtimes and the first difficult weeks. This does not just entail writing out an IEP (Individual empty promise) because a poorly written one in particular is really not worth the paper it is written on.

leiela Wed 01-Jun-11 19:07:45

Sorry it wasnt ment to be a slight against those children with a statement, it's just that my son has never needed one. He was in a fantastic primary school who met all his needs without a statement thus far.

I've spoken to the Camhs team recently and asked them about getting a formal DX, Camhs did assess him and determined ASD but tbh we panicked and refused the formal DX at the time.

Unfortunatly Camhs are not being helpful atm, apparently my son is coping and they don't see the benifit of a formal Dx as there is currently no support available for children like my son. I've pretty much been told he needs to start hurting himself or other before they concider going back and formalising it. Which means i'll have to go private to get one but i don't have the money to pay for it.

I was worried about him coping in seniors and i looked at the statementing process but im not sure how to fill in the assessment request... i just stared at it aimlessly... I can't imagine stating "i think he might struggle, but is doing very well now" is going to be a very compelling argument for an assessment.

Tbh even if someone came and assessed him right now i doubt they would see any thing more than a happy confident boy who loves school who is top of his year in all his subjects and is coping very well.

Honestly right now you couldn't pick him out of a crowd unless you knew what you where looking for, many of our relatives refuse to belive he even has ASD.

He doens't like people to know he struggles with things and as such has become fairly good at hiding it.

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