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Here are some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on SN.

St Mary's Wrestwood or LVS, anyone with experience of either?

(5 Posts)
post Thu 29-Sep-11 09:24:59

hi, I've posted over the years a bout ds2, who has asd, he's 12. He's been out of school for two years now shock after his placement broke down, HUGE anxiety issues, and he's very controlling, although it's also been great for him to be at home in some ways; he's certainly more articulate and really very verbal now. 

I've been battling/ struggling/ pleading with the LEA, all the usual, massive multidisciplinary meetings, endless phone calls, letters etc, and over the last few months they've provided some outreach support from a local sld/ complex/ profound needs school (I think that's the profile) which has been amazing, the lovely teacher and support staff have now managed to get to the point where he goes into the school at 3.30 till 5.30 a couple of days a week, which is a massive advance, and he really looks forward to it and has even talked about going more often. But he doesn't spend time with the children. Where he's at in his own development means that at the moment he'd struggle to see non verbal children as a peer group, as many of the kids there are, of course.

BUT... The school and his teacher, and camhs, and every professional say categorically it's the wrong school for him.  He's got a lot of anxiety,he's super controlling, but these days he'd be described as pretty high functioning ( don't really like that term). The school has refused to be named an an appropriate placement on his statement. But the mld schools are massively over subscribed, no chance of a place, apparently. Plus he does need an enormous amount of support.

So we've started the ed tribunal process, and have been advised that st Mary's Wrestwood trust in bexhill or LVS in hassocks might be appropriate. And we really have to choose one to name on our appeal. I've been to st Mary's, loved it, and am going to see LVS today. Solicitor has said that the trouble with st Mary's is it's not autism specialist, and so she's known appeals to fail. And I've heard that LVS has a 'for employment' approach  in late secondary with links to an agricultural college, which is brilliant, but ds HATES going out and doing stuff outside, and I'm worried that if lots of the kids are coming and going it might feel a bit disruptive and disjointed IYSWIM?

Does any one have experience of either school? I know you can't tell me what to choose, but especially after two years of being at home with my lovely but honestly quite challenging ds I'm knackered and confused and I so don't want to get this wrong, because I think we and he will prob only get one chance.

Thanks if you've got this far....!

sugarcanmelt Thu 29-Sep-11 11:50:38

I've looked into LVS Hassocks as it was recommended to us. It has quite a unique approach to ASD and I think it's important to consider whether it would be right for your DS. For example, it has a strong focus on nutrition and massage therapy. You are right about the vocational approach - this means that they do not offer GCSE exams, so if your DS is currently achieving his age-expected NC levels, I'd think about whether that might reduce his future options, in case he might want to go to university later on.

I don't know anything about St Mary's, but I refused to consider anything that wasn't ASD-specific when I was looking at schools.

The fact that the SLD school is refusing to be named is actually positive for you - the LA will only consider independent schools like the ones you mentioned if no local schools can meet your child's needs. Often parents are pushed into local schools where the peer group/curriculum isn't suitable, simply because the LA doesn't want to pay independent school fees. Don't underestimate the importance of the peer group - the key thing to help a child at his age is to develop social skills, and he will struggle to do that if the peer group isn't right.

Who was it who recommended these schools to you? I'm rather concerned as they don't seem to be particularly well-matched for meeting your child's needs (and as residential special schools go, they are at the cheaper end of the fees spectrum so I would guess that is why they were suggested). You have the right to research and visit any schools you wish, so cast your net wide. Use the Isbi website to look up ASD specialist schools - there are quite a few in the South East.

post Thu 29-Sep-11 14:17:12

Wow, thanks, sugar. That's really helpful. They were suggested by different people, st Mary's by a friend who knows ds and was a ta at the school herself, and LVS by our solicitor, and I do think that the fact that shed been successful at placing children there before was a factor.
I've just got back, and did like it, although yes, the very vocational approach, ESP as it's largely agricultural s something I really need to consider. Also, although ds is actually keen I don't really want him to be residential!

Thank you so much. Lots to think about.

LunarRose Fri 30-Sep-11 16:43:12

St Mary's is lovely. It has a fabulous reputation.

post Sat 01-Oct-11 11:50:46

Thanks, lunar. I really loved it. (dh cried a bit as we walked round!)
Trouble is, as it's not a specialist asd school, our sol feels we'd have less of a case. Oh, this has been going on for so long now!

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