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Secondary School in Lambeth for children on the autism spectrum

(77 Posts)
ProjectVangard Wed 31-Oct-12 08:03:31

We are a group of parents working with Lambeth and the National Autistic Society to set up a secondary school for children on the autism spectrum. Focus will be on skills for life through active partnership with the community - eg colleges, mainstream schools, charities and local business. If you have an interest, we would love to hear from you.

StarlightMcKenzie Wed 31-Oct-12 17:26:08

Sounds very interesting.

What is the ethos and approach going to be?

ProjectVangard Sun 11-Nov-12 16:10:03

Skills for life and independent living - whats the value of knowing the characters from 'as you like it' if you cant boil an egg - this is about empowering and inspiring both our young children to make their way in the world and their local community to partner with them....

StarlightMcKenzie Sun 11-Nov-12 16:12:53

That sounds great, but how are you going to empower and inspire?

sickofsocalledexperts Sun 11-Nov-12 16:16:07

I have pals in Lambeth who have fought hard to get an ABA education for their autistic kids, as it is a far more effective (and proven) methodology than others such as Teacch or eclectic. Does the NAS involvement mean this new school will reject ABA ?

ProjectVangard Sun 18-Nov-12 20:42:03

Absolutely not, they have never rejected ABA - they just don't believe that one specific intervention is right for every child on the spectrum and we agree - this has to be about what is best for our children.

ProjectVangard Sun 18-Nov-12 20:45:03

It really depends on the childs needs, but for my son, he doesnt need to be able to write his name at this stage of his education, he does though need to learn that he needs to stop at the curb before crossing and that a red light means stop. So its making sure that the children are not treated like robots and put through a process - interventions have to be developed for their own personal needs. I'm making it sound easier than it is but we believe it is possible....

StarlightMcKenzie Sun 18-Nov-12 20:53:59

How do you teach a child to stop at the road and understand that a red light means 'stop'?

And how do you make sure the children aren't treated like robots?

bialystockandbloom Mon 19-Nov-12 23:32:36

this has to be about what is best for our children.

Don't think you'd find a single poster on this board who'd disagree with this, but what interventions or methods of teaching are proposed in this school?

StarlightMcKenzie Mon 19-Nov-12 23:51:37

The thing is, how do I know that a school like this will be the right kind of fit for my child? I have a bit of a feel about the aspiration, which sounds great, but how can I assess whether it would be right for my child, and compare it to what else is on offer?

Monkeyboymum Wed 28-Nov-12 11:00:55

I am a mum of an autistic boy and when I found out yesterday about the free school I was delighted. The nas has been around for many years with many schools with good results so they should know what they are doing, alongside parents who only want the best for their kids and are therefore doing this. I worry all the time about what next for my son (who is 8). Knowing that this school could be up and running by the time he leaves his special needs primary school and that he could possibly get a place gives me a lot of hope to be honest.

sickofsocalledexperts Wed 28-Nov-12 11:40:19

ABA is actually a far more child-centred approach than Teacch etc and is far from creating robots - that is a line that has been fed to parents by LAs throughout the UK. We are lagging behind other countries on autism education (Scandinavia, UA, Canada etc). I fear this school will have the same low expectations and hackneyed old methods as so many of our autism schools do in this country. I want to aim high for my (severely autistic) son - crossing the road AND reading/writing.

bialystockandbloom Wed 28-Nov-12 14:18:30

Hopefully the OP will come back to answer our questions. All well and good hearing a tiny, vague bit of info about a possible new school, but we want to know more please!

monkeyboymum you said you found out about this yesterday - where from? Is there somewhere we can find out more?

StarlightMcKenzie Wed 28-Nov-12 17:17:44

The NAS has been around for many years, but so have national societies in other countries that have very different approaches. Being a national society is not IMO an indicator of good practice. It may well be of course, but I'd want to know a lot more about the school than simply that the NAS are involved iyswim.

But it seems to be a big secret for some reason, which worries me.

StarlightMcKenzie Thu 29-Nov-12 07:49:51

The BNP is also a national society that has been around for years.

bigTillyMint Thu 29-Nov-12 07:55:16

This sounds interesting - there is definitely a growing number of ASD children in South London. There is a state special secondary school for ASD in Southwark - is there not one in Lambeth already?

And more Primary provision is needed for ASD too!

sickofsocalledexperts Thu 29-Nov-12 08:30:46

If these new schools would open their minds to ABA, which s the norm in countries such as US, Canada, Finland, Norway etc, they would pull in a lot more support and get better results. To the OP's point, the ABA professionals also now have a tool called Essential for Living, which looks at the "Essential 8" things an SN child needs to become as independent as is possible for them in
 adult life. ABA is far from just about academics, as the OP seems erroneously to have been led to believe. In the end, our Society would benefit from embracing ABA for our SN pupils, as it would lead to lower-needs adults. But the prejudice is strong against it. Much of that is to do with the one-to-one aspect of ABA, which can be costly. But with economies of scale from more ABA schools, costs would come down. Plus in mainstream, where one-to-ones are already the norm (ie LSAs) ABA training can mean the difference between a child surviving or failing in mainstream, as it teaches them methods of tolerating things they may find tricky (eg noise, unpredictability). Sorry to go on, but feel very strongly we are giving autistic kids a sub-standard service
In this country.

StarlightMcKenzie Thu 29-Nov-12 09:45:22

Presumably the OP also thinks that children with ASD get a substandard education, which is why he/she is keen on the new school idea.

I suppose I just worry that it is same old/same old, creating children who are prompt dependent on visuals, rather than independent thinkers. Because a pocket full of visuals visuals are cheaper than the expert teaching required to enable a child with ASD how to think for themselves.

This is why it is important (for me anyway) to clarify what kind of an education the children will get. The OP is keen to steer away from creating robots which is a good sign, but that can only really happen once we move away from the prompt-dependency culture of the current TEACHH-lite approach that most ASD provision seems to like, including often the NAS which is why I am confused.

I really wish the OP would clarify as this school is within reasonable distance for me and might be an option.

sickofsocalledexperts Thu 29-Nov-12 12:58:54

Apparently, Star, there are 2 competing school proposals in Lambeth - one that does indeed espouse ABA and one (this lady) which mistakenly believes ABA creates robots and therefore eschews it.

bialystockandbloom Thu 29-Nov-12 13:42:25

Sickof that's v interesting - where did you find that out? Pm me if you don't want to give away anything here.

The thing that always puzzles me is why ABA should be seen as somehow promoting the opposite of teaching life skills confused One of the very first skills that we taught ds when we started our ABA programme was holding hands crossing a road. And the second was toilet training. Two pretty useful life skills imo. I can't understand this perception that ABA is just about academic skills (as if that's a bad thing in any case!). We're currently putting lots of work into emotional recognition, regulation and theory of mind - again, quite useful life skills!

Wonder if the OP will come back to tell us more.

sickofsocalledexperts Thu 29-Nov-12 18:39:08

Bialy - the other school is The Hub, Lambeth and will use ABA. If you put it in mumsnet search you can find a thread on it (sorry, can't do that linky thing!). I've also heard about the 2 schools from pals in that area.

ProjectVangard Fri 30-Nov-12 17:16:18

Hi all - sorry for the silence - I've been travelling for work. Just for clarity 'sickofsocalledexperts' -you have misread this thread - I have never said that ABA creates robots and I would never say that - for some children ABA is by far the most impactful intervention you could offer. The great news everyone, is that Lambeth has decided to back one parent group in the Borough and it is NAS Vanguard Free School - lots more to come on the school and the approach over the coming months - starting with a drop-in tomorrow morning in Brixton -

StarlightMcKenzie Fri 30-Nov-12 18:13:40

So Lambeth have agreed to back a school without knowing the approach?


Hope the school are able to deliver. Congratulations and good luck smile.

sickofsocalledexperts Fri 30-Nov-12 18:27:08

I am glad I have misunderstood Project. So you will look into ABA methods for kids who might benefit? It has the best research behind it of all the autism interventions, for teaching a whole range of skills - from life skills right through to reading/writing.

StarlightMcKenzie Fri 30-Nov-12 18:33:15

What I am finding difficult to understand, on a general level, is that ABA has been shown to be the most effective (and startlingly so) for children on the HFA end of the spectrum, and yet somehow HFA are not considered 'severe enough' for the approach.

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