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Special school or mainstream?

(9 Posts)
SarahEng Wed 26-Sep-12 19:06:20

Why do I feel like I don't know who to trust???

My sons in mainstream school, has autism, social comunication and learning dificulties and a statement of SEN. He has 20 hours extra help 1 to 1 and small group.

His school says that he isn't coping very well even with the support and they suggest special school should be sought. Local authority says he is correctly placed in mainstream.

Both LA and current school have valid points in their arguments and although I've visited the special schools, I am worried i will push to get him a place in a special school and them regret it.

I am worried about the longer term too, as he is only 7 at the minute and it concerns me when I think of what it will be like as he progresses through to high school.

Anybody else been in this situation?

Tiredmumno1 Wed 26-Sep-12 19:10:06

Do not trust the LA, they are the last people I'd ever trust, if the school are saying the special needs school would be a better placement, then I'd say take their advice.

achillea Wed 26-Sep-12 19:14:41

Have you tried IPSEA? They will give you independent advice on exactly this kind of scenario. In the end you need to trust your heart - take a long hard look at your boy and his future and consider what suits him best and how he will learn best.

In my case I want my daughter to get streetwise and gain good communication skills so I have sent her to mainstream but it may be that a child with autism would have their needs met better in a school with less distraction.

What did the school mean when they said he wasn't coping well?

CwtchesAndCuddles Wed 26-Sep-12 19:15:07

Special school places are expensive, the LA prefers to keep pupils in minstream as far as possible! Cynical but true.................

lisad123 Wed 26-Sep-12 19:28:55

Have you been round then all? It's a hard choice to make but remember its not a prison, you can move him and you have a choice of where you send him.

SarahEng Wed 26-Sep-12 20:34:23

Achillea...thanks, I don't trust the LA one bit, as it's all about cost to them...but equally I worry that his school may be trying to cut costs on their part. I wasn't aware of IPSEA, so will have a look...thanks very much.

His current school says he is getting further behind and not responding as they would have expected, with all the extra support he is getting. He does very little unless supported constantly.

I favor the special schools for smaller class numbers and different teaching methods. I do worry however, that he might not get as much individual support in a special school.

If he could try special school, with the option of moving back if it wasn't suitable...then that would be ideal, but I'm worried about making the wrong choice.

They make it as difficult as possible!

AgnesDiPesto Wed 26-Sep-12 22:16:45

DS has fulltime ABA support in mainstream (he only goes PT and does ABA out of school rest of week). We won this provision at Tribunal. From what I have seen of mainstream school staff I am not surprised many children with ASD do poorly. Most school staff don't have a clue. They have little training. Most don't bother to read up themselves. Last year his teacher sent him home with reading books about 3 years ahead of his level of understanding, lost him (he bolted) on the one occasion the ABA 1:1 was persuaded to leave him in her care, spent the entire year using inappropriate language that went over his head etc etc. But his ABA staff have got him to make major strides in mainstream. He could not be there without ABA, but with ABA mainstream makes sense as the children are fantastic for him, a resource he just would not get in SS. He is also bright and so only SS here (SLD) not really appropriate. I looked around alot of mainstream schools before the tribunal as LA wanted him there with say 20 hours 1:1 - all I saw were clueless TAs unable to get the children with asd's attention let alone teach them anything, just trailing after them as babysitters. Its not their fault it just reflects they are not taught what to do. Our autism outreach team were also useless they rarely came and when they did just gave school generic advice - they never got down to DS level and demonstrated to staff how to engage him. Same story with SALT I have yet to meet a NHS SALT who can get DS attention / get him to follow an instruction yet his success rate with ABA staff is almost 100% just because they know him well and know how to motivate him. Is your child very passive? Passive children need 100% 1:1 as they are not motivated to learn themselves.

Mainstream can work but only with lots of training. With proper programmes designed by specialist staff and demonstrated to school staff. With lots of supervision as to how programmes of work are going and changing them if not working. I suspect the problem is not your child cannot learn but they do not know how to teach him.

You could ask for a dual placement, increased 1:1 hours, more outreach support eg the special school can send staff into mainstream to do outreach. LAs must do everything they can to make mainstream work if you want him there.

If you have any funds yourself then I would look at ABA or private SALT even if you do some out of school. We started getting ourselves trained to do ABA - then nursery saw him making progress and were impressed - then we were able to get the nursery (private so lucky) to let ABA staff come in and train them. If you can prove he can learn from other methods you have the start of a good case for more support in mainstream.

Why does a child have to go to SS? Why can specialist provision and curriculum not come into mainstream? DS has an autism specific ABA curriculum delivered by autism specialists within a mainstream class. Of course its more costly, but very effective.

Another option is mainstream with unit - look in other LAs if need be.

SarahEng Thu 27-Sep-12 14:44:19

Thanks Agnesdipesto.

He is very passive, needs constant support to get him to do anything.

He gets outreach support from a special school.

He is roughly about 2 school years behind in terms of ability and maturity in most ways. For us it's not just about the learning side, but also about how he fits in with his class group and the environment best suited to his concentration and other needs and obviously the teaching methods used.

Everyone involved other than the LA says special school would be more appropriate, but the Educational psychologist has not suggested either.

We just want to make the right choice for him.

T3009 Thu 27-Sep-12 14:56:29

AgnesDiPesto - Hi, I would like to get in touch with you, can you please inbox me, somehow cannot send you any email! Thanks

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