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Had the special school talk today - wobbling a bit

(25 Posts)
Firsttimer7259 Mon 24-Sep-12 12:54:19

So I had our support worker from the LA over this morning to talk us through schools. This is mainly talking me through the special schools/nurseries in the city - our DD aged 2.8 has GDD and is currently at the ability level of a 13 month old approx.
DD currently attends mainstream nursery and enjoys it, but she is v behind. I do think special nursery and possibly special school will be good for her as the level of input will be high. I dont really know what I am wobbling about but just feel at sea...I guess 'school' feels like a huge deal and I am worried we will do something thats not right for her. Its so strange to think of her as disabled.... I dont know i dont know. Currently I definately cant imagine her starting in a mainstream school. She is still not able to do any self care. She cant talk, get dressed, wash her hands, feed herself but she is a lovely, friendly, happy little girl. My main worry would be that at mainstream school she would feel totally inadequate and stressed about the fact that (in all likelihood) she will still need to concentrate hard on things other children will be doing with ease.
Am I being over-dramatic to be so anxious?

CwtchesAndCuddles Mon 24-Sep-12 13:34:57

I've been where you are and it is hard. With all your heart you want your child to be able to go to mainstream and accepting that may not be the route they will take is a huge thing to get over.

I went to vist a few schools and fell in love with one just up the road, I realised that special school was exactly what my child needed - I could see how it would meet his needs and how much fun he would have there BUT I still cried my eyes out on the way back from there!!

DS started there last september aged 3 - after a battle with the LA - and it is the best decision I could have made because he has thrived in the environment there, he was non verbal when he started but is now using a lot of language.

Starting off in the right school makes such a difference, special school places are hard to get and it is much easier to move from a special school back to a resource unit or mainstream than the other way around.

Good luck in finding the right school for your dd.x

used2bthin Mon 24-Sep-12 13:36:02

Hi firstimer! I am having similar wobbles but think my decision, if not made, is on the way to being made!

I have been visiting special schools and to start with dd will probably do a combination of her current school (mainstream with 30 hours one to one) and the local ss.

The main thing we have struggled with in mainstream is dd's lack of intelligable speech. I am still struggling a bit too with viewing dd as needing a special school but when I was there lat week, I saw ALL the chidren using visual aids and ALL the children (those who could)signing, and teachers and TAs who knew what they were doing and I thought actually DD could get so much more input here.

It is so hard and your DD is so little you are not being over dramatic at all, I would really just o and look around, I went twice to our local one 9and just saw another for comparison) and my view literally shifted while I was there on the second visit, it just clicked that this was what DD needed. Good luck!

LateDeveloper Mon 24-Sep-12 13:42:55

just moved ds to a specialist provision after 2 years at a mainstream and am now really kicking myself i didn't move him much earlier.

that said it depends on the special school - not all are as good as they should be.I was shown round one school where they said they only had expectations for some of the children!

and your dc is very little - you don;t have to pick at school for at least a year so perhaps wait and see is best in terms of which school?

mymatemax Mon 24-Sep-12 13:54:50

just remember that whatever decision you make doesnt have to be forever.
Just chose the place that you can see her being happy in now & worry about the future later.
ds2 did a split sn & ms pre school, has been at ms primary & will be going to ss for secondary.
you are allowed to wobble, its hard enough worrying about school choices for a nt child but so much more to fret about with sn.

Firsttimer7259 Mon 24-Sep-12 13:58:24

Thanks everyone, its reassuring to hear your different stories and experiences. School choices have a while to go yet but SN nursery is on the cards, we would apply before the year is out. I was happy today that the LA support worker was talking about DD needing lots of input now in her early years, because I am concerned that we are missing the opportunity to really help her as much as we can while she's young. They have been a tiny bit 'wait and see' previously.

Its such a long way to go still - we'd need to be assessed and the places are few and she is a bit borderline I would guess. But I am keen on it - if the provision is good (we had a bad experience with a childrens centre placement earlier this year that I ended up refusing). But I am overwhelmed with what it may mean, and how I assess what we are offered etc, scared its a way of limiting our expectations of her, scared even (still!) to use the SN/disabled label...

If anyone else wants to feed in please do, I really would like to hear about your experiences

mymatemax Mon 24-Sep-12 14:04:35

its normal to be scared.
look around the schools, look for children who seem to be similar to your dd.
Ask lots of questions, even if you are not sure if its appropriate. Better to ask than to go away wondering.

CwtchesAndCuddles Mon 24-Sep-12 14:06:54

Some special schools take children from earlier than normal school age, the school DS goes to takes children from 2 - 19 which means the children lucky enough to get a place early have much more early intervention - it may be worth looked at the schools in your area to see what they offer. I would also agree with the poster who said not all special schools are great, I visited one that had a very poor vibe for me but others like it!

One thing I really believe is that the earlier a child has specialist intervention the better.

starfishmummy Mon 24-Sep-12 15:47:06

As others have said, special education doesn't have to be forever, and it can be part time with mainstream as well.

It might also be worth checking up on what your LA do about nursery provision for children going to special schools. Round here those who went to special schools got all day nursery provision (if the parent wanted it) as opposed to the half days for kids going into mainstream. So full time intervention in a special school nursery could enable a child to catch up with their peers.

babiki Mon 24-Sep-12 16:45:45

Firstimer, it's so good to hear you had an input from somebody from education! Nobody ever contacted us, have got similar ds to yours..same age. I never even thought I could already go and see schools...he started in mainstream preschool and I have applied for assement for statement, so will see how it goes. I am oscilating between thinking we will try manistream and then I think who am I kidding...private salt said he is classic case for SN school, private tutor however claims no way, he would be fine is guess we will see. Good luck x

schobe Mon 24-Sep-12 17:46:35

It just SO depends on the child. My DS is extremely delayed and nowhere near being able to cope in mainstream even with support.

So he went to an ofsted-rated 'outstanding' SS from before he was 3.........and made no progress whatsoever. They are lovely at the school and the facilities are outstanding (brand new building).

But DS' autism means that all the arguments about social interaction with peers in the school setting are meaningless. He will avoid, avoid, avoid all interactions unless he has intensive (and well-trained) one to one all the time. And that's not what is on offer at the SS.

So we're doing ABA at home grin

Look into all the possible options. Have you requested a statutory assessment? That's a good starting point and they don't have to be of school age, in case anyone tries to fob you off with that one.

Strongecoffeeismydrug Mon 24-Sep-12 18:08:57

dS has just done his first day at special school today and he just looks like the anxiety cloud that follows him around has just disappeard.
last year we couldnt even mention the word "school" in his presence but this evening hes already asking if he can go back tommorow.
And at the grand old age of 8.2 ive got my first ever picture to stick on my kitchen wall(ONE HES BEEN ALLOWED TO DO HIMSELF AND NOT THE TA ARTWORK) grin smile grin

Firsttimer7259 Tue 25-Sep-12 13:10:08

Thanks so much everyone - these replies are exactly what I needed in terms of providing myself with some sort of context of what this might look like and how it might be etc. Ive also found out today they dont do statutory assessments in scotland. Need to figure out the legal end of things soonish I guess
Babiki - this happened because I mentioned that her peers parents are now all talking about schools (many have feeder nurseries so these conversations start early here). So I mentioned in the team around the child meeting that I had no idea where to even start with this. So our LA worker has had a chat with me about whats out there and we will visit the schools/nurseries together in the first instance. Any special nursery place would only kick in the term after she is 3 I think. But also she has advised that deferring school entry needs to be applied for in the first half next year as thats also a tricky process with LAs reluctant to consent. My daughter has a Feb b-day so she's normally be a young starter so Ive always wanted to defer (school start in Scotland is a lot earlier than in Germany or Sweden where we come from and so its quite an alien idea to us). With her skills where there are at present I have serious doubts about her ability to manage in school at 4.5 even if she made great progress between now and then. Anyway if no one brings it up I would ask - thats what got the ball rolling here. I am amazed actually at how receptive they have been as I felt a bit ridiculous asking about schools when she is currently just really starting her toddlerdom (before that we had 2+ years of her being a baby for all intents and purposes)
Stringcoffee I love that your son has made his first picture and that he's so much happier now!

hazeyjane Tue 25-Sep-12 13:14:03

I have just been having this conversation with a friend,FirstTimer. Ds attends a sn nursery, where he will continue for 1 day a week, and the rest of the time he will be attending mainstream preschool, with my friends ds (also delayed). I am just at the investigating stage wrt primary school, we have 2 good mainstreams locally, one has a better repuation wrt sn. Then last week i went to a hydrotherapy session at a pool which is linked to sn primary school. The school looked incredible, so i will go back and investigate further to see if it might be a viable option for ds, when the time comes.

But at the the moment I think it is a case of seeing what is out there, sorting out a statement, and seeing how our dcs progress in the next year.

I remember sorting out pre school and primary for my dds (5 and 6), it all seem so simple in comparison!

EllenJaneisnotmyname Tue 25-Sep-12 15:24:09

My DS2 went to a SN pre-school after a disastrous term in a MS playgroup, pre DX, where the staff didn't have a clue. I was still a bit in denial when I visited it. I couldn't see my DS there, with all those DC with SN! blush It turned out to be the very best move I ever made for him. He fitted in perfectly, he started getting invited to parties and I got lots of support from the staff and other parents. He was DXed with ASD after he'd been there for 4 months. He made loads of progress, using PECs which kickstarted his communication and I learnt loads of strategies. He stayed there for 2 years part time, then another year in a split placement with a MS primary reception class.

I found it gave me some badly needed breathing space. No judgey parents or staff and time to come to terms with his abilities knowing he was in the right place. After 18 months I was ready to worry about the next stage, which for him turned out to be MS with a statement. I wasn't in denial anymore and had got to the stage where all I wanted was what was best for him, be that SS or MS, and not what I wanted in an imaginary ideal world.

I know you may be in a completely different place in your journey to where I was, but hopefully this has helped. smile

isw Wed 26-Sep-12 01:46:47

Hi firs timer, I think the advise you have been given about deferred entry in Scotland is wrong sad My DD is also a feb born and we deferred her school entry until she is 5.5. I was told that if your child is Jan or Feb born it is your right to deferred them, they can't refuse. It is a simple process you just fill in a firm saying why (toileting for us) and send it in. Several Nov/dec children in DDs nursery class have also deferred so she won't even be one of the oldest in her class. So glad we did it, there is no way she would cope with P1 now at 4.5. Hope that helps

isw Wed 26-Sep-12 01:48:15

Sorry so so many mistakes, hope you get the gist!

Triggles Wed 26-Sep-12 07:47:26

DS2 went to MS for preschool (only one term, admittedly, as we started him late), reception, and yr 1. He had FT 1:1 throughout reception and yr 1. Through reception, the 1:1 was great, and the gap between DS2 and the other children wasn't quite so huge - or perhaps the other children were simply young enough that they didn't notice it. It grew quite a bit larger throughout yr 1, and he was really struggling in the larger classrooms and with all the sensory overload. We realised that SS was necessary (and had to fight the LA for it). To be fair, his primary school was brilliant - very proactive - but the things he struggled with greatly were things they couldn't change (noise, class sizes, etc).

He is now (for yr 2) in a SS and absolutely loves it. Small classes, greater flexibility, schedule more suited to his needs (shorter lessons with more breaks). He is still adapting to the change, but he is getting more chances for independence, and he seems so much more comfortable at school now.

willowthecat Wed 26-Sep-12 09:27:20

I agree with isw - it is a very simple matter to defer entry in Scotland, certainly for NT children there is no issue whatsoever. I have heard anecdotally though that that LA's try to get SN children in as soon as they can to avoid the 'problem' of the 'extra' year at the end of the school years - i.e another year at LA nursery as well as all the school years. But there is no basis in law for the LA to act this way and they would be in breach of the Disability Discrimination Act.

Have you heard of the Scottish charity Mindroom which campaigns for education for SN children in Scotland. The lady who runs it is Swedish.

willowthecat Wed 26-Sep-12 09:38:20

Also although there is no statutory assessment for Statements of Educational Needs in Scotland, there is a statutory duty to provide a Co ordinated Support Plan for children whose support needs are complex (awful word but it's what we have to use). Given what you have said about your dd's needs, even although she is very young, getting a CSP in place for nursery would be a good plan. You will need the help of Mindroom or the Govan Law Centre though to prod the LA into action. It sounds as if the LA worker you have met has not fully explained your dd's legal rights and you need someone to give you the other side of the story.

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Wed 26-Sep-12 09:40:49

My DD is at a wonderful SS and is so happy there, the staff are wonderful, the facilities are amazing and they work on the important basics like dressing alongside everything else, in a class of 6 children with 5 staff, can't fault it. smile

Firsttimer7259 Wed 26-Sep-12 09:42:26

Thanks willow for the legal info - I had meant to write statement not statutory duty (and I am a lawyer blush) I know a duty exists and I think we are on course for being assessed under that. But I will take up your advice to get local advocacy/advice agency involved and make sure we are independently informed.

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Wed 26-Sep-12 09:42:38

Deferring is not as easy as it used to be I friends DD's birthday is 31st December and she was not allowed to defer, even on appeal. (she had to pay for an extra year at nursery, which was the right choice as her DD is much readier for school now)

isw Mon 08-Oct-12 03:58:13

I think whether or not you are allowed to defer may also be affected by the size of each years cohort. Quite a few in my DDs school deferred this year but I guess that if the following year cohort is known to be large they will try to discourage. Also I am not sure you are but my DD is in mainstream nursery but does placements of 4 days 4 times a year in a SS school. We got charity funding for this but I know other children have secured funding from education.

magso Mon 08-Oct-12 10:19:45

I can understand how hard it is. Ds was probably 7 or 8 before I realised he was disabled as opposed to delayed IYSWIM. It is so diffifult in the early years to know what the future holds and what would be best for them.
I will tell you our story because it may help see what needs to be guarded against! Ds was forced to go to MS (statement declined), when developmentally functioning at a little below half his actual age, and it was a huge struggle for everyone. I watched my child change from chearful and outgoing to anxious and develop various undesirable stratagies to get help (such as crying and screaming, and hurting others). He lost some skills but his communication and speech improved. Once he eventually got a statement and transferred to SN school he began to blossom again. Much of the problem was the lack of suitable support in MS (rather than MS itself) - he was not learning at his own level and it was all too much for him. I saw other children at the lovely sn school who had been there since nursery doing very well and a few were later integrated back into MS. So I would say look at both MS and SN school but if considering MS make sure the support ( and statement) are in place in advance. What I did not know at the time was that parents can appeal a statement rejection.

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