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Ok, I need your advice and some wise words - I'm in a spin

(28 Posts)
Lougle Mon 29-Oct-12 22:18:19

I've had 3 different opinions on DD1 in the last week. All wildly different. I can't see the woods from the trees.

DD1 is 7 in December. Year 2.

Teacher:
DD1 doing really well at school. Targets are pronouns, using 'w' words to describe events and link (so who/what/when....), counting objects to 15, expressing feelings (sad, happy, etc.). She feels DD1 is working at P7/8 on most areas (I noticed a couple of P6s/P5s) and may well be working at Level 1 by the end of the year. Can't yet read in any sense, but can recognise 3/4 words in and out of context (Kipper, Biff, etc.)

She said that she feels that DD1 is slightly ahead of her class, and it had fleetingly crossed her mind about MS, but she feels the gap is too wide at this stage to consider it.

Paediatrician:
Pleased with her progress. Feels she presents as a 4/4½ year old now, given her language, etc.

Support Worker:
Said today that she thinks DD1 is extremely bright. She would put her at nearer 10 years old for comprehension and instruction following (?shock) and almost age appropriate in other ways, except for 'knowing boundaries' but this is of course her illness.

DH and I:
Well, we have DD1 (6.10), DD2 (5.2) and DD3 (3.6). It is a bit tricky because we have identified issues with DD2 (we suspect possibly ASD but high functioning) and DD3 seems quite precocious in her development (she is very astute, very verbal, very switched-on, very socially able). However, there is no way we would put DD1 as older than DD3 in terms of development. No way on this earth.

So...I suppose what I'm asking, is where 'is she'?:

Gross Motor: Still has gait issues, but much improved. Flat footed, falls over easily, especially if not wearing Pedro Boots. Arms still held out from sides when running for balance. Running gait improving but still quite 'marionette'. Tires easily and uses buggy often when home, but manages longer distances walking at school or on trips.

Fine Motor: Immature pen grip. Faint marks on paper. Can draw some numbers now. Can draw around 6 letters independently, hand over hand or trace others. Fingers still weak. Couldn't peel an onion without it being started, for example. Can't yet do buttons, can pull a zip if it's started for her. Hands are weak.

Speech/Language: Speech sounds still unclear. Can't pronounce words with 'r', 't' at the end or beginning, 'c', 'ch', actually..the list goes on! Still uses lots of workarounds to explain what something is. Still uses other people's expressions when speaking, including intonation. Still inaccurate with pronouns.

Academically: With support is counting up to 10 objects. With support is able to recognise some letter sounds. Excellent memory though. For instance, remembered that lemon is put into water to stop apples going brown, from several months ago.

Behaviour: Still no sense of danger. Still behaves erratically at home. Very good at school, though. Still has melt-downs, including with carers. Behaves differently with different people (very clever socially in that sense). Emotionally very liable, but again, controls it better with some people rather than others.

Who is right?

I'd love the more optomistic views to be right. My worry is that superficially she is presenting as more able than she is, which will jeopardise her provision, and when we get to adulthood she'll fall through that gap that is 'provision'.

Lougle Mon 29-Oct-12 22:18:41

That was an epic post. Sorry blush

EllenJaneisstillnotmyname Mon 29-Oct-12 22:30:34

Aren't teacher and paed saying the same thing, though? High P levels would be equivalent of a reception aged NT child. So 4 - 4 1/2?

The support worker is the only one out of kilter. She's the least qualified of the 3. What is her child development training? How many NT 10 yos does she deal with? 10 is Y6, very mature, too cool for school, very streetwise, about to go to secondary school.

I would say that so long as she is continuing to make progress, where she is compared to others is irrelevant. (You know this, of course!)

Lougle Mon 29-Oct-12 22:40:39

Perhaps you're right, Ellen. I just can't quite grasp how they can think she's like an NT 4/4½ year old, though, because if you put her in a MS Reception Class, she'd drown in days. I don't understand it. Or perhaps they weren't really saying that at all, and I've misunderstood.

TheLightPassenger Mon 29-Oct-12 22:45:55

I think the school/paed are focussing on her academic skills, rather than social skills/behaviour, and not entirely taking into account the challenges a ms classroom would pose - sensory/physical etc.

The sw comments seem a little - off kilter, shall we say.

As someone with a very similar child (at that age) and currently working in a SS class of pupils aged 5-7, I'd say she is in the right placement, and will probably still be in the right placement in a few years time, perhaps with some decent integration of they can do that.

If what you are asking is 'is she too able for SS now and will they kick her out to flounder in MS' I would say it is very unlikely smile Just because she is an able pupil in the correct supportive set up, doesn;t mean she would continue to be so if thrown back to the wolves... and in the 10 years I have worked in SS only two children have gone over to mainstream.. and in both cases the parents actively pushed for that to happen.

My DS2 was very similar to your DD..VERY. Similar levels at 7, just starting to read a few words, counting, etc. All very good stuff. But compared to what yr 2 mainstream are doing..it's still a massive gap, and the pace quickens. School usually recognise this!

She sounds to me (only from what you are saying) like she moderate LDs...and yes in your average SS it makes kids look more able than they really are, but it is very unlikely this means she doesn;t need their continued support!

My DS2 is 15 now.. has stayed in SS his whole school career but is 1/2 integrated into the mainstream 'unit' for maths (his best skill) and some other stuff. he reads, writes (like a 7 yr old.. still working on capital letters and full stops and his writing is about 1cm tall!). His memory for stuff that interests him is phenomenal ... but he is still in SS and still needs to be because all those gaps and random 'not got it' ness add up.

The support worker is talking out of a hole which quite possible isn't her mouth grin and frankly I don't think anyone will take her word as gospel over the actual assessments and general profile.

I know very well that feeling of wanting to be optimistic BUT. I always feel very disloyal to my DS2 when I have to point out that yes he talks and reads... but he is a world away from the 15 yr olds out there....

Lougle Mon 29-Oct-12 22:56:26

Thank you - all comments welcome, please keep them coming. But I can sleep now. Thanks for sharing that, too Medusa. My biggest fear is that DD1 will fall down the chasm that is 'provision'.

auntevil Mon 29-Oct-12 22:57:14

With Ellen on this
A lot of the criteria for high P levels are similar in nature to EYFS goals.
You might be surprised at how many children that will be in reception year now that have similar, not necessarily all, of the motor, speech and academic skills that you mention.

StarlightMcKenzie Mon 29-Oct-12 22:57:42

Lougle, just letting you know I have read but want to think a bit first.

ChippingInLovesAutumn Mon 29-Oct-12 23:11:29

Lougle - I'm completely untrained in any of this, no qualifications At All. However, I have a lot of experience with children, mostly NT but also some with different levels of SNs and I agree totally with what the others have said.

Any child/adult can fall between the gaps, simply because the 'gaps' are too large and there are too many variables, but I don't think it would be a 'given' at all, I (sadly) think your DD will present as 'needing assistance'.

I completely agree that 'the SW is talking out a hole & it's not her mouth'.

I'm sorry sad, it would be much nicer to say that I think the SW is right; and that moving her to MS would be the right thing to do.

ouryve Mon 29-Oct-12 23:22:46

I would keep her where she is, even if hints are being dropped. DS2 is in mainstream Y2 and is way behind your DD1, but can only join in with his class for very few activities. What he does have is 1:1 who really gets him and he trusts and lots of fans - he's really becoming quite chatty with some other (mostly older) children, in his own sweet way.

Is MS good for him now? Without a doubt, especially socially. Will it be good for him forever? Most definitely not. He will need to move into SS at some point

coff33pot Mon 29-Oct-12 23:40:59

DS left Y2 a level P8 literacy and 1b numeracy. That was a guess as he could only just about read a two letter word and he could not write anything only his name or copy the pictures.

However education assessments etc put him average to high IQ, speaks fluent, big words etc. So most would say he knows his stuff and he does know but only his stuff he cares about.

Academically with his memory is great. Social awareness, coping and learning within the class enviroment and outside breaks he needs wrap around care and relies heavily on his TA.

He is ok because this school gives him permanent 1 to 1 care. If that was taken away. He wont survive. In truth I cant see him surviving senior school at all but thats a whole new ball game and a few years yet. But he currently has the maturity of a 4 yr old.

I would say you made a good choice with your DD and to stick to it. There can be a huge gap between the educational aspect of things and the social "functional" (as I call it) aspect. I dont think these people were taking in the whole picture x

EllenJaneisstillnotmyname Tue 30-Oct-12 00:02:26

Sorry, got distracted by DYAC, I blame LeonieDelt!

Yes, academically, both the teacher and the paed seem to see her at a similar level, and the fact she's making progress just goes to show that she's in the right setting, not that she should be lumped into a MS reception class with boisterous NT DC.

The LSW probably thinks she's being lovely, giving you a really upbeat report. If your DD is 'top of the class' in the SS, the LSW may see that as age appropriate, not having much experience of NT development. And your DD may well have some spikes of high ability. TBH, the peaks should just show up the troughs even more and may lead a professional to see disordered development.

Sorry, didn't mean to come across so negatively, but I think you should fight tooth and nail to keep her where she's being developed and not move her to where she may end up being merely babysat.

Lougle Tue 30-Oct-12 07:03:52

Thank you all. The school are fantastic (as always) and her teacher reassured me that as her parents we know her best (how rare is that??). Also, her teacher's background is a very inclusive primary, where a small group of SN children (significant SN) had support from LSA's and Qualified teacher time additionally. Not your typical MS school.

It's me. I'm acutely aware of the fact that her school is in demand. I'm acutely aware that she is doing well. But you're all right, the gap is still huge.

Sad that progress is such a double edged sword, hey?

FangsGoForTheMaidensThroat Tue 30-Oct-12 07:10:42

I had this fear when DD started at her SS, I still believed that she might suddenly surge ahead and be taken out, so I totally identify with your worries.

Sounds like at the moment it is still very much the right place for her, and that is supported by teacher and paed, who would have the say, so just be flattered by the support workers comments and try to relax for now.

On the whole though it is fantastic to hear that your DD is developing so well grin

silverfrog Tue 30-Oct-12 09:44:48

I agree with everything here.

your dd is functioning well because she is in the right environment. it enables her to relax, concentrate and focus. It is set up to keep her safe, and help her achieve her best.

do notworry that there is 'pressure on places' at her school - this is not your problem (harsh, I know, but the reality).

my dd1 is flourishing. she is able to hold more (in terms of quantity and variation of topic) conversations than we ever thought would be possible. she can read, and write, and type. she brought home a lovely folder of work at the end of the last school year, and I could actually see where it tied in, academically, with the national curriculum. she is already achieving far more than we were ever led to believe she would.

are we thinking about moving her? hell, no. she would fall apart, and be lost - the exact 'fall between the gaps in provision' that you worry about. she is too capable (ie can learn the routine and line up well) to have too many people worrying about her in ms, but needs the 1:1 to actually learn anything. there is enormous pressure for places at her school too (they are at capacity, with a waiting list), and the LA woudl have me believe that they could spend her budget on helping lots more children. none of this is my problem. I am here to ensure dd1 gets her suitable education, and that is what she is getting.

and that is what your dd is getting too - it is her suitable education, and it is allowing her th space to learn and grow.

the gaps between our children and NT children canbe huge, and they do widen. for all dd1 is achieving, there is lots that is passing her by, and always will. I forget sometimes, but then remeber that for eg, my dd1 is only a few years aways from puberty; or that at her age, I was going to the playground across the road on my own, which she cannot do (road awareness, going hte right way, even being able to play on the equipment when she got there); or that at her age I was planning what to make for the rest of my family for Christmas, and got on and did it - again, she wouldn't know where to start. or that I played 2 musical instruments, and spoke 3 languages, and had read the Chronicles of Narnia (and I was no different form my peers). none of this takes away from dd1's achievements(she has already overcome far more than I ever hadto), but it does highlight the differences between where she is and where her peers may be, and shows why she should not be ina ms classroom.

Lougle Tue 30-Oct-12 13:26:53

Wow, that is encouraging. Silverfrog, if I remember correctly, your DD is about a year older than DD1, isn't she?

I know I am being daft. I know it. But then, DD1 comes out with something quite amazing, like 'I'm going draw octogon, it got 8 sides.' and I wonder if I know her at all!

FangsGoForTheMaidensThroat Tue 30-Oct-12 13:30:20

Both of your DD's give me great hope for the future smile

FangsGoForTheMaidensThroat Tue 30-Oct-12 13:30:35

err DDs not DD's blush

silverfrog Tue 30-Oct-12 15:59:59

Dd1 is 8 (just - summer baby).

She is doing brilliantly. For her. When I say she can write I mean she can write any word she Is able to spell, rather than writing sentences or short stories as dd2 does. Eg she can independently write just about any CVC word, and then loads of others she knows like names or labels (days of the week etc)

We reckon she is, overall, functioning 3-4 years below where she should be, with some peaks and some troughs. We hope this will continue to be the case, overall, but she will never hold her own in mainstream classroom because there is so much of it she just wouldn't 'get'. But that is fine, because she is now in a place where she fits in and where she can achieve the best she is capable of, and, just as importantly, somewhere where she can feel as though she is keeping up, rather than feeli g lost and bewildered.

StarlightMcKenzie Sun 04-Nov-12 10:55:20

Hi Lougle,

I've been thinking about this for a while as I think I have had to adjust my views from what they once were to take account of the fact that my ds is now in a special school.

The recent appeal with the LA was against them saying that ds could be supported with 'access to 20 hours 1:1' in mainstream, no more need for SALT (as receptive understanding and expressive language within low-normal range), and no need for OT.

He is now in a special school, with SALT every day (not speech, but 'communication therapy' in a group), OT every day both group and individual, and no 1:1 but a staff ratio of 1:3 at least.

Could ds be educated in mainstream? Yes.
Would ds be educated in mainstream? No.

Could ds learn in mainstream? Yes.
Would ds learn in mainstream? No

Could ds' Communication education be taught in mainstream? Yes.
Would ds' Communication education be taught in mainstream? No.

Could a mainstream school have high expectations of ds? Yes
Would a mainstream school have high expectations of ds? No.

It's the difference between 'could' and 'would' that makes the special school the appropriate environment for ds, and I think the gap between 'could' and 'would' is going to get bigger for all of our children in the current climate with cuts and fear, lack of understanding, increasing damaged relationships between educators and parents and even less expertise and training of staff.

StarlightMcKenzie Sun 04-Nov-12 10:59:19

What people are saying, is that they are very pleased indeed with her progress. She is progressing THERE. What on earth would mainstream non-experts make of it?

And Lougle, you KNOW that if her school is so much in demand then the solution is to make more spaces available, open a new school or whatever. It is not the responsibility of the parents of the children who are thriving in the setting to move aside.

StarlightMcKenzie Sun 04-Nov-12 11:03:54

Just because a child is capable of parts of a mainstream curriculum doesn't mean they would be able to access it once they got there. This isn't always about the child either, it could be simply that the teachers are just not aware of HOW to differentiate/communicate to make it happen.

I think there are many children out there that could do well in mainstream the concept but just not mainstream the reality. And I think that lots of parents hang in on mainstream the reality hoping that one day it will become their concept, but I fear that the chances of that at the moment are minimal.

TheLightPassenger Sun 04-Nov-12 11:09:47

excellent analysis, star, completely agree.

bochead Sun 04-Nov-12 11:37:46

As the parent of an 8 year old in mainstream I found myself nodding vigorously at everything Star says about "could" & "would".

We've lived through what happens when mainstream goes wrong & it's awful and takes a LONG time to recover from. I have to constantly nag and it's draining.

I'm also constantly "minding the gap" & am very aware that especially in the current climate the "gap" is likely to become a yawning chasm. DS in theory "could" continue to make great strides all the way through mainstream - but there will come a point when it all stalls due to the inherent natural limitations in that setting (lack of staff specialist training, time, TA's never being wholly exclusive no matter the wording of the statement, his peers going far beyond him socially etc).

One of my closest friends and a sibling both went to special schools - as adults noone gives a toss as they've managed to "achieve" jobs, qualifications, and independent lives that just wouldn't have been possible without a SS education. The key thing is that they got a decent education.

Always remember that all too often the professionals only look as far ahead as the next financial year - parents are often the only ones to take a long term view of a child's potential development. It sounds as if your daughter is making real progress as opposed to just being being babysat daily.

I also can't be doing with the guilt trips about provision. If more SS places are needed then that's for the LA to provide them. People need to remain accountable for their own domain & not pass the buck.

Your daughter sounds as if she is doing really well, right where she is. If it ain't broke - why fix it? If in the future that changes then cross that bridge as soon as you see it approaching.

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