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The perfect autism school

(22 Posts)
clpsmum Sat 06-Apr-13 09:47:50

Been looking at schools for my son who has autism and just feel none of them are right. This led me to thinking what the perfect school would be. And what others thought.

Mine would have small class sizes, on site OT, verbal therapist and a huuuuge sensory garden.

What would your perfect school consist of?

sickofsocalledexperts Sat 06-Apr-13 10:04:16

Mine would be an ABA unit attached to a very lovely mainstream, packed with nice friendly kids and helpful teachers. It would have huge tree-filled playground and all mod cons, including mini I pads for each kid. Kids would have 1-to-1 experts support at all times, be included in mainstream lessons where possible, and at playtime an army of specially-trained ABA play therapists would descend on the playground to help with games and socialisation.

It's only issue would be that it would be plagued by constant visitors from other LAs trying to copy the model for their own boroughs.

No-one would need a statement as statementing departments and admin infrastructure would have been scrapped, thus financing the school.

When/if I win the lottery I will set up my network of such schools, called the SOSCE Units!

sweetteamum Sat 06-Apr-13 10:14:30

Your school sounds fab, sickof. I would love my dd to attend. And if I ever win the lottery I would definitely invest in that smile

Ineedmorepatience Sat 06-Apr-13 10:22:18

Mine would have staff who really understand the complexities of Asd. We would have a forest school and OT's and SALT's. Small classes of course and the academic work would be taylored to each child's interests and learning style.

And I would be working there grin

boobybum Sat 06-Apr-13 10:59:01

I don't usually buy lottery tickets but I shall get one today and will invest in sickof's school if I win!

EllenJanesthickerknickers Sat 06-Apr-13 11:19:16

My DS's SS (that was a 2 -6 development and assessment school) had its own forest school with its own waterproof boilersuits, 2 OTs on site, (one a sensory specialist) 2 SALTs, both Hanen trainers. They took the DC swimming, to RDA, and even on a 4 night residential once a year. It had a well stocked welcoming parents' room, did parenting courses, SHARE courses (teaching us how to help our DC learn through play,) with a free crèche for siblings or DC who attended a different session led by the class teachers, sometimes the SALT or OT and even the EP occasionally.

Parents were actively encouraged to attend sessions at least weekly to share good practice, whenever you wanted at which siblings were welcomed. It facilitated my DS's GFCF diet. It had showers for when the DC needed them, often after Forest school. grin It had its own playground with swings, slides, playhouse, working traffic lights, trikes and a separate sandy 'beach' area, a sensory garden and a wildlife area. Most of these built and paid for by the local Zurich employees charity.

While my DS was there the LA tried hard to close it as it was understandably expensive and the LA tried to kill it by refusing to refer DC there and saying there was no demand. Class sizes were about 10 DC to one teacher and 2 qualified SEN LSWs. The national school adjudicator refused to allow it to be closed and even the Ofsted inspector wrote to the adjudicator in its defence, which nearly cost him his job. (Ofsted inspector came back at Christmas to play Santa!)

My DS2 made so much progress there, although it wasn't ABA or even ASD specialist, it had DC with CP and Down syndrome etc as well as ASD. He spent 2 years there and went on to MS school. I was so sad to say goodbye to it and endure a normal 'adequate' MS primary.

And it wasn't perfect. It could have been better. Some of its methods were too child led which didn't always suit those with ASD and could pander to their stims and obsessions. They tried new approaches and methods, were very progressive and would change what didn't seem to be working but this would take time.

But I learnt a lot of my SEN and SN knowledge there, it's why I felt so at home here on MNSN, I think. For such young DC it was almost perfect. My DS did outgrow it and needed to move on, so I still need that perfect primary or secondary.

Ineedmorepatience Sat 06-Apr-13 11:39:50

Sounds great ellen if such schools existed for our older dc's we could at least feel that they were safe and happy at a school where people cared about them.

How lovely that your Ds got the opportunity to spend time there smile

Dinkysmummy Sat 06-Apr-13 11:49:22

SOSCE school sounds awesome! grin

I'd fundraise for it!

ouryve Sat 06-Apr-13 14:20:51

It would be a completely different school for each of my boys.

DS1 needs a school with small class sizes, regular access to OT (who would also have an influence over the school environment) and EP. He also needs an environment where he can blossom academically, with high expectations and no ceiling. He also needs a lot of support with social skills as well as staff who are patient with and able to manage his meltdowns (which of course, he'd be having a lot less of).

DS2 needs a lot of 1:1 with regular SALT input, preferably with an ABA/Verbal Behaviour approach. Oddly enough, he gets the first in mainstream but wouldn't be guaranteed it in our local special schools. He doesn't get a lot of SALT input, but what I've seen uses VB techniques with him, which he responds to well.

ouryve Sat 06-Apr-13 14:27:27

I want a SOSCE school in Durham :D

saintlyjimjams Sat 06-Apr-13 14:45:03

Sounds fab Ellen

And the LA tried to kill it by refusing to refer DC there and saying there was no demand is a common technique.

We're lucky with ds1's school (and respite). It's why I can't move from our city into a nearby village (which I would like to do).

sazale Sat 06-Apr-13 14:48:07

For the first ever I recently walked into an as/HFA school and thought this is perfect for dd 14! If this school didn't work then none would. I am about to go into battle to try to get the lea to fund it!

Each class (of no more than 8) has it's own salt and an ot to every 2 classes. They do sensory integration therapy and ot and salt are embedded into the curriculum throught the day. If they need to wear headphones and listen to music in class then they wear them!

They do gcse's, btecs and a levels as well as covering life skills. Everything is low arousal and every class has 2 or 3 TA's as well as the teacher.

sazale Sat 06-Apr-13 14:51:30

It also made me sad that such places exist but our kids have to put up with the crap their given. Most of the adjustments to the environment dont even cost much.

EllenJanesthickerknickers Sat 06-Apr-13 16:09:14

It was fab, grin I was so relieved when he started there. I was a parent governor there and the whole time we were fighting to keep it open. And not for our own DC, but for those who came afterwards. My DS left at Easter in 2005 for full time MS on the very day that the school adjudicator's decision came through. Mixed emotions on that day!

It has gone from strength to strength, now runs a birth to 2 section where mums stay and a thriving outreach. It runs courses for local MS schools and nurseries in Total Communication and other subjects.

The DC refered have tended to be more severe than was previously the case, so some of the more borderline DC are still missing out on the great early intervention that my DS benefitted from. sad

EllenJanesthickerknickers Sat 06-Apr-13 16:13:25

Sazale, it's crap that such places don't just become flagships and inspire other schools. What tends to happen is the LA says, 'this isn't fair, not all DC can have access to this facility, so in the interests of conformity across the LA, we'll have to shut it down.' Instead of 'this isn't fair, we'll have to open more schools like this across the LA.'

clpsmum Sun 07-Apr-13 08:05:47

Sorry for my ignorance but not sure what a forest school is? A school in a forest???

The schools sound amazing I'd send my son to any of them. The school my LA want my son to attend have openly admitted they do nothing to push speech and a "few" children have actually lost all speech since attending, WTF???

clpsmum Sun 07-Apr-13 08:09:41

Could you pm me the names of the school at all so I can check whether they are close enough to be an option for my DS?

Ineedmorepatience Sun 07-Apr-13 10:38:17

Forest school is basically outdoor education with a few twists. The Dc's learn skills such as shelter building, tool skills, fire lighting. There are opportunities for the children to spend time outside, taking risks and managing those risks. It is really good for building confidence and self esteem.

EllenJanesthickerknickers Sun 07-Apr-13 11:26:55

At my DS's SS, they owned a safely enclosed small piece of woodland about 4 miles away on the side of a hill for their Forest School. It was beautiful and muddy, with some flat areas and some steeper slopes. The DC were dressed appropriately with all-in-one waterproof boilersuits on top and wellies so they could get as muddy as they wanted. For DC with SN it is rare for them to get the opportunity to regularly 'run' wild in tricky terrain in relative safety and it is great for their gross motor skills, confidence and problem solving skills. DC with SN can often be reluctant to get dirty as well. We had staff trained in Forest School learning.

I'll PM you, clpsmum.

salondon Sun 07-Apr-13 13:24:55

Typing on the phone so please excuse the typos.

I am yet to experience the school system since my daughter won't start till sept 2014. However, I can already see some issues. Firstly, I can't think of a 8-6:30, 50week/yr solution given that both of us work full time. Parents should have maximum opportunity to participate in their child's education. I might not be a SALT/OT/History/math teacher. But I might offer some not-so-bad assistance on the admin side of things. Similarly, some other parent might be able to offer SALT to my child.

With 1 in 50 children on the spectrum, our schools need to be inclusive. The spectrum is so wide. Just on this forum itself, I see just few kids like mine. We can't have seperate schools for ASD kids. And our schools can't run without help from parents, grandparents and guardians.

SickOf- I have said this before, you should start your school very soon. And in central London pleasesmile

zzzzz Sun 07-Apr-13 18:26:34

School would start in March and require full time participation of the entire family for 17 months (ie to the following September).

The first 10 weeks would involve a total detox from normal life. Wagon train across miles of wilderness. The next 12 weeks building a settlement, lots of mud and hammering, followed by a winter of formal education. Spring would involve hard labour again and lots of digging followed by a triumphant wagon train home.......alternatively a tropical paradise would be fun, but ds1 does get slightly hypnotised by waves.

More seriously I think a teeny school would suit ds1. Location would be important as space and tranquility allow him to function. I would steal the Steiner idea of making your own lunch and add the more montessori heavy emphasis on self help skills being built in to life not a separate issue. I like the "choose from a selection of activities" approach to teaching. No uniform. Parents encouraged to bring children right into the classroom and stay if necessary. Sports day....perhaps a picnic instead?

doozie1 Sun 07-Apr-13 21:41:15

if your looking for the perfect school then you need to look at Treetops School in Grays ,Essex. They have everything you've mentioned and more. Went to extreme measures to get my son into this school, best decision I've made!!! Keep your eye out on BBC soon, they've been filming about our ABA/VB programme xx

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