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Having to decide on Special school, or struggling in mainstream school :(

(20 Posts)
mumoftwolittlerugrats Mon 27-Jun-11 10:37:07

I have a 4 1/2 yr old with probable ASD (paediatric's words)

He has a place ready for him in a lovely little school for September.
I thought hewould do fine there, with a 1:1 teaching assistant.

Well recently we met all sorts of professionals, including a paediatric consultant, who was verynice, but then wrote a report saying my son wouldn't cope with mainstream school right now, but a special educational setting could be appropriate.
I didn't think much of it, had ameeting withaneducationalpsychologist who assessed my son, and he seems to think a school could only give him part time one on one,andhe'd be expected to get onbyhimself a lotof the timetoo, which we agree would be no good.
So basically, they said I need to go check out the local school for disabled kids, or consider him staying in nursery until his 5th birthday (then jumping off that (starting school) bridge when we get to it??)

My first question was 'but he won't get any GCSEs or anything if he starts that school?' and they were all silent.

Has anyone else faced this?

They said I had 3 weeks to decide what I want to happen in september. I'm so confused.
I'm gutted, don't want my son to be unhappy with the struggles on mainstream, but also I'm scared of special school, if there's other kids like my son there, surely it will be mad chaos, how will he learn anything? If there were 10 ofmy son replicated in one room, surely they would only learn to act more disturbed.
he screams so much sad hates communicating.

sad sad sad don't know what to do. One bonus I can think of right no is the local authority having him picked up and dropped off at the special school and them havinghim fulltime, which would stop all thispart time messing about with the nursery.
Days to myself with my toddler sound appealing.

Anyone been through this decision?

IndigoBell Mon 27-Jun-11 10:44:14

What does the MS school think?

They will know whether or not it is a suitable school far more than the paed or the EP......

TheNinjaGooseIsOnAMission Mon 27-Jun-11 11:29:14

agree with indigo, you need to speak to the ms school as well visiting the special school before you decide on anything. Do you have any other options, an asd school or base in your area?

does your ds have a statement? You can request full time 1:1 in ms if he does, so long as you feel confident ms is appropriate. The ep shouldn't be saying you can't have full time 1:1, that's for the lea to decide as part of the statementing process.

don't write off the special school, it shouldn't be complete chaos, they're able to support and understand the children enough that order is kept. Do check to see of there's any asd specific support available in your area though, there may be options they haven't mentioned.

utah Mon 27-Jun-11 11:30:36

my son is the same age as your child and will be going to ss, I knew it was right for him the moment I stepped into the building. You need to go and visit, the staffing numbers are huge and instead of a building of disabled children all I saw was a building of children like my son. The opposite for me was mainstream all I could see there was a room of children so able and interacting that my son seemed like an 18 month old toddler. View both school again with fresh eyes, I do not know what it is like where you are but here it is hard to get SS. My second plan was extending nursery or defering school for a year but once I was offered SS I did not want to lose it. Good luck and go with you instinct, I still worry if I have made the right decision and probalby always will.

IndigoBell Mon 27-Jun-11 11:31:37

There is also a halfway house of an MS school with an ASD unit - where the children spend some time in the ASD unit and some time in MS......

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 27-Jun-11 12:12:44

Again though, a statement would be needed to access such a unit.

maryellenwalton Mon 27-Jun-11 12:56:13

My DS is also 4 and a half, ASD, and he will be starting SS in September. Tbh I knew from very early on (having experience of ms with my older dd) that I did not want him to be a square peg in a round hole, completely out of sync with all the other kids, even with a 1:1. DD is 7, and year 1 and 2 are a long way from the school lite which is reception. Even at playtime the children play sophisticated role playing games etc, so I just knew that ds would be on the periphery, and that the divide between him and his peers would be more painfully obvious as each year went by.

Plus I knew I would always have the extra worry and strain that would come with trying to keep him happy and learning in a ms environment, even down to the stress of having to mingle with the other mums, some of whom I can bet wouldn't want him there.

I think some asd kids can function very well at ms, but my son isn't in that category, no matter how much I wish it wasn't so

But yes, we were lucky to find a fantastic ss, which is v important, and even luckier to get a place there. He will be supported amazingly well, and I have no doubt he will run in there every morning. And selfishly, I look forward to not having to worry about how he's fitting in, or coping, or how the other kids/ mums react etc etc etc. And I too will get precious time at home with my toddler.

drivemecrazy63 Mon 27-Jun-11 13:34:57

just wanted to allay your fears of SS you will hopefully be surprised because dcs are happy and well cared for relaxed and not stressed its not like your dc amplified and mirrored by ex amount more dcs its very structured happy and very quiet compared to ms schoolif its a good SS they will know best how to handle your dc and all the others compared to the often thoughlessness and incompitence through lack of knowledge and training in ms school my advice is go and see a few and see for yourself what they have to offer and if you dont like it you can insist on MS when your statement review (and you can have an early one) happens if your dc isnt happy you can change your mind if things dont go to plan, and your other fear about accademics, most ss will send if your dc has specific subjects there goos at along to the ms school aith his TA who stays with him/her and if there doing great they take a step back and leave them to it but if there needed they are there like a safety net this enables them to still do asdans, gcses and vocational exams/ work experience later so they are by no means a lost cause accademically

drivemecrazy63 Mon 27-Jun-11 13:37:27

sorry forgot to say in ds's class he has 4 TA's and a teacher for 6 to 8 at most pupils and all the OT, therapies,salt ect are on site and salt is written into teh classroom in all aspects of their work so go and look at both before you decide or write either one off

drivemecrazy63 Mon 27-Jun-11 13:40:02

and the other thing is ds was excluded from so much didnt have friends wasnt invited to parties now he seems to be a fully fledged member of the school looking forward to school instead of dreading it as he felt too different before its a decission im really happy i made but it is a totally individual thing

tabulahrasa Mon 27-Jun-11 14:42:31

Don't assume that special schools don't do qualifications, they still have to teach children and if that means GCSEs, they should provide them. Some don't concentrate massively on qualifications - but that's because of the pupil's needs, the right school should meet his needs and if that's GCSEs, then they'll do them with him.

Also, it's not an absolute decision, it may well be that he could go back into mainstream at secondary level if it's appropriate for him.

They won't be chaotic classrooms full of children not coping, they have a much higher staff ratio, trained staff at that (which is something mainstream is really not good for) and tiny classes.

So go and see the schools, ask about academic attainment, see what the environment is like and see if there's one that meets his needs.

magicstick Mon 27-Jun-11 15:48:31

My son has done both mainstream and special. The special school has been the best thing we could have done for him. They can take exams entry level or GCSE. He struggled in mainstream because of the number of chidren in the class and the noise level.

cwtch4967 Mon 27-Jun-11 18:55:38

My son is 4 in september and has ASD and learning difficulties - he will be going to SS in september. I went to visit the school and soon realised it was the best place for him and will give him the best possible start - small classes, specialist teachers and therapy on site. It's a hard decision because no one wants to see their child as disabled and there is no getting away from it if they attend a SS but you have to get past that and look at how each school will meet your child's needs. Ds is attending the local ms school nursery at the moment and has 1:1 but despite doing their best there is no way they can meet his needs - he is safe and happy there but is not getting what he needs developmentally.
I'm all for inclusion but my son needs specialist support and I feel I'm doing the right thing for him by sending him to the ss.

Pixel Mon 27-Jun-11 19:25:04

Ds's ss isn't at all chaotic, it's the most calming, loving environment you can imagine. Even I feel relaxed when I go there grin.

It's a bit early to be worrying about GCSEs now. I'll give you the advice that helped dh and I decide. The head of the SN school when we visited said that it's not set in stone, children move between mainstream and SN school often and they also move between schools that are for more severe needs and those for children who need more academic support. However, it is much easier to move from SN school to MS than the other way around.

drivemecrazy63 Mon 27-Jun-11 19:26:00

my ds was at ms before and magic and cwtch both said you have to look past thecdisabled label I still dont feel ds is disabled I think of it as a difficulty we help him overcome to the best of our ability if that means ms brilliant but if youve tried it and you know your dc just isnt right in that environment then ss may well be for you i think the moment you walk in and feel the calm and tranquility i knew that and so many happy faces

Pixel Mon 27-Jun-11 19:27:47

Sorry to clarify (had to dash off and check dinner), what I mean is, it's much less of a fight that way round, because SN school places are very expensive and rest assured if your child no longer needs the place they will be more than happy to find him a (cheaper) place in MS!

geeandfeesmum Tue 28-Jun-11 15:35:06


I have just been to visit the school DS and DD (prob ASD) will be attending in September. They are both in the same year. My DH had to leave after one minute with DD as she had a meltdown. I stayed with DS. He liked it. I really don't know what to do about DD. I had just been thinking that we will see how she gets on at MS but now I'm not so sure. We are discussing dx and statementing at a multi agency meeting this week, but if it takes 6 months to get q statement I really can't see how she will cope.

unpa1dcar3r Wed 29-Jun-11 22:06:11

Mum of 2..
I can only go by my own experience of SEN school. My boys go to a fantastic one, only 6o odd kids from 5 to 19 yrs of age, max 6 to a class with at least 2 assistants plus the teacher.
Some of the kids go on to the local school if they are able later to do GCSE's- my boys won't but most schools would encourage this if poss.
He's only a littley right now anyway and he'll be fine, they are more than trained in dealing with our extra special kids, that's why the are spcial needs teachers and not mainstream (who more often than not have a whole class of 'normal' kids and no special training)
No way on this earth would I send mine to mainstream, i've seen and heard too much. Although I'm sure there are good ones with units etc.
My boys are totally integrated, never excluded form any activity like many in mainstream are. They all have lunch together, play together etc...and they all learnt o love each other and be kind/helpful etc to each other as well as independence skills.
Every little achievement however minor is celebrated and they are made to feel confident and loved.
Generally people plod on with MS until the child reaches 10 or 11 and then they really start to struggle in MS and end up at SEN.
Not all of course, some adapt really well and if the disability isn't completely debilitating they may do well.
However it wouldn't be suitable for either of mine and I'd never put them through it, rather keep them at home than subject them to other kids and teachers who don't have a bloody clue most of the time!

pigletmania Wed 29-Jun-11 22:52:59

My dd aged 4 will be going to school in September. She already goes to their pre school and they have applied for a Statement, of which we have got past the first stage. DD ASD is on the milder end of the spectrum (told by the Ed psych) and so therefore I want to give mainstream a go. I have met with dd teachers and they seem very positive that they can support her. The school are providing her out of their budget a lot of support, whilst the Statement is going through. We will see in the year how dd gets on, if she is struggling will consider SS.

Jennylee Fri 01-Jul-11 09:18:23

i visited the special high school for my son it is peaceful wonderful friendly place. try not to be scared if school is still on in england if that where you are phoen and arrange a visit, seeing is better than imagining the worst

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