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A difficult decision....

(17 Posts)
TheBeekeepersDaughter Sat 15-Nov-14 07:00:37

I'll try to be brief.

My August born 3 year old has a long history of glue ear and hearing loss and was very late to even begin to develop his spoken language. Consequently he has an expressive language delay. Although he has made huge progress lately, his speech is still less sophisticated than his peers and is very difficult to understand. Our SALT says that his phonology is very disordered.

We were thrilled that he has been offered a place at a (fantastic) speech and language base for the rest of this year. We are in no doubt that this would be the best place for him to develop his speech skills. BUT.... The unit is 20 miles away. I work and also have a daughter at school locally. With lots of reorganisation I could drop him off but not collect him. The transport option that has been offered to us is a private taxi with no escort. My son is quite shy and anxious and cannot communicate his needs. I feel that he is not emotionally ready to cope with the journey and may well refuse to go. I am also worried about child protection and safety issues ( what if they break down?). At present we spilt his care between a lovely local nursery and a nanny. The NHS SALT provision is meagre but we pay weekly for a private therapist who also visits the nursery once a month. The nursery receives extra funding to support my son (about 8 hours per week, I fought for this). In September I hope he will start reception with his peers at the attached school. I do not want him to go to a primary special provision.

In short, while I know we have been offered an amazing opportunity at the speech and language base, I am not sure we can take it up. Am I being over-protective to worry about the transport issue? Or to risk disrupting a (not perfect, costly but working) arrangement already? He is gaining in confidence every day at nursery and has begun to make friends. I know that addressing his language delay is important but I am concerned about so focussing on the best place to deal with his 'problem' that we ignore his emotional needs and what best for our family arrangements.

It's so hard to decide! Thanks for reading this, any thoughts would be appreciated.

sammythemummy Sat 15-Nov-14 08:23:13

I don't think you're being over protective.

I'm sure you've thought of every option but can the nanny not pick him up?

autumnsmum Sat 15-Nov-14 08:39:39

For transport legally an escort has to be provided for child protection reasons

Ineedmorepatience Sat 15-Nov-14 08:57:31

Your LA are taking the pee!! Get on the phone to them and tell them they must put a guide in the taxi with your child and if they refuse make a complaint to the highest level of childrens services in your LA.

Do not allow them to get away with this and spoil your sons chance of attending this setting.

Good luck flowers

Housesoftheholy Sat 15-Nov-14 09:07:24

Just to say I totally agree with ineed

StarlightMcKenzie Sat 15-Nov-14 09:08:43

The taxi situation is resolvable.

As for the rest, personally I don't feel that a SALT nursery would be THAT good that it is worth taking your child out of an environment that is working and which is the feeder for where he is going as he will benefit from being known, his own familiarity with the setting, journey and staff, and their ability to communicate with the school.

I say this as someone whose child has attended 6 schools as well as been HE by age 7, so I am not adverse to changing settings etc.

fairgame Sat 15-Nov-14 09:33:31

autumn have you got a link about LA's legally providing an escort? DS was given a taxi but only with an escort for a period of 3 months. The 3 months is up next month and he needs an escort because he likes to take his seatbelt off during the journey but i might have a battle on with my penny pinching LA.

OP definitely push for an escort he is way too little to go without one.

PolterGoose Sat 15-Nov-14 09:41:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Ineedmorepatience Sat 15-Nov-14 10:17:55

The problem with nurseries is that they vary so much, I work in early years and honestly some are utterly crap with special needs. The staff are often stuck in their ways and dont like change.

I know of schools that shove their least able teachers in nursery as damage limitation hmm
If you are confident that your sons nursery are supporting him and moving him forward then I would also agree with starlight and leave him.

If on the other hand you are blown away by the SALT nursery then I think I would have to move!

Sorry not much help, Good luck .

frizzcat Sat 15-Nov-14 10:21:17

Op, reading between the lines of your post, your instincts appears to to saying that he should stay where he is, but you feel like you're lucky to get this offer and so shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth?

You ds needs support, you as his mother, will know what is best for him.
Go with your instinct and what is best for your ds, if that is a 20 mile journey to a specialist place, then do it. If you think actually, this may be detrimental to ds, then it's a no. You're not being ungrateful, you're being his best advocate.

tempe48 Sat 15-Nov-14 16:48:25

Ask your private SLT, if she can tell yet if actually he has an expressive disorder, rather than a delay? Sometimes, they tell parents its a speech or language delay, because its too early to tell if its a delay or a disorder (especially if the child says very little), but in other cases NHS SLTs tell parents its a delay for years, when they are clearly saying to each other in jargon in their reports that its a disorder. Its a way of damping down demand for speech therapy and/or language unit places.

Also, ask her if very disordered phonology is likely to be a precursor to dyslexia?

What does your SLT think about whether he needs a language base or mainstream?

Ask the LA for their risk assessment of sending a very young DS with an expressive language delay (query disorder) in a taxi without an escort, with regard to child protection, etc? I'd insist on an escort. Here, children under 11 always get an escort; it varies over 11. Drive the route DS would have to go to the language base in rush hour - the rule of thumb for journey time for primary age children is 45 minutes or under. (So they are not too tired to benefit from their education, by the time they get there)

AgnesDiPesto Sat 15-Nov-14 22:23:08

So presumably your child is getting a EHC plan? In which case ask the LA to cost out the specialist unit. I'd imagine for the same money or less (especially as no transport) the LA could fund private SLT and 1:1 in your local nursery instead and if you are getting a plan you have the right to ask for direct payments and sort this yourself if need be. Although it's relatively new and LAs are not wowed by the idea of giving control to parents putting specialist provision into a local mainstream setting is often much cheaper than sending a child 20 miles away every day. You could get the private SLT funded to train you at home, the nanny and the nursery and oversee a programme and keep him with his peers.
My son has an ABA programme in his local school and at home (we have no suitable specialist provision within 50 miles). There is no reason why the child has to go to the provision, the provision can come to the child.

TheBeekeepersDaughter Sun 16-Nov-14 08:08:55

Thanks for all your advice, there are some really helpful ideas here, you all have such a wealth of knowledge.

The reason I feel under pressure to make a decision is that we need to notify my son's nursery very soon, especially as if he leaves his support worker will lose her hours. I will call our SEN officer this week to ask to see their pupil transport policy/ risk assessment and to check that his hours in nursery are secure. The nursery is a very good provision and do take on the ideas offered by the speech therapist so I do think that he is getting good support at the moment, just not the ''gold standard'.

I have not thought too much about and EHCP but I suppose that it may be useful to get the ball rolling on this. Our speech therapist is every clear that he does have a disorder, not a delay and will need ongoing speech therapy support for the foreseeable future. I like the idea of a personal budget, especially as we have a speech therapist who he gets on well with and his primary schoo,is and independent provision. I suppose then that an EHCP is another hurdle to jump in the near future.....

2boysnamedR Sun 16-Nov-14 11:09:20

I'm facing this soon with my toddler. My plan is to take up the speech unit but keep him also in his private nursary.

However his older brother has a severe language disorder so that clarifies my thinking that my toddler a) needs to be in specialist setting b) needs to have this unit on his file as it's never and still isn't acknowledged by school that my older boy has this disorder.

So my situation is different but I don't want to ever go through what I am with older boy again. Two private speech reports, two indi ed psych reports stating lang disorder but it's not

Icimoi Sun 16-Nov-14 11:40:09

I don't think there is a legal requirement to provide an escort in school transport. They simply have to follow the right safeguarding procedures with regard to the taxi driver. However, if you can demonstrate that your child needs an escort then the LA must provide one.

tempe48 Sun 16-Nov-14 12:20:44

Having been to a workshop recently by Douglas Silas on the new SEN CoP, he told us that LAs only have to consider the parents' request for a personal budget. Parents don't have a right to a personal budget - so the LA could could consider it, and say "No!".

Douglas also made the point that LAs have a block contract with the NHS for speech therapy - so, it might cost them say £30 per hour. Whereas, parents are paying what £60 -£70 per hour? Does this mean that children on personal budget are only going to get half the speech therapy, other EHC plan children get? LAs didn't get any more resources in the new system.

As for transport, it may well be that other children in OP's town are already going to the same language base - in which case, the marginal cost of her DS' transport is negligible.

AgnesDiPesto Sun 16-Nov-14 17:14:19

The LA must prepare a personal budget if the parent asks and they are preparing or reviewing a EHC Plan. But a personal budget can just be a notional budget where no money changes hands. Parents can also request direct payments but you are right there are many opt outs for LAs and they can easily refuse SEN DPs. One of the opt outs is for LAs to argue they already have a block contract and DPs will incur additional costs. However the legislation does require LAs to work towards more parental control - some LAs are doing this and some aren't. Some LAs are top slicing block contracts e.g. with SLT so they can offer direct payments with the money they hold back (top slice) off the contract. Any provision e.g. hours of SLT must always be based on need not cost so you would get however many hours were needed.

Its also the case if the NHS cannot meet the need e.g. their staff simply are not trained to deal with it properly or can't visit frequently enough then LAs have always had the option of buying in provision they / NHS cannot provide in house. If the NHS SLT is as useless as Beekeeper says she can argue this has to be bought in. We got DPs on this basis - it was clear NHS SLT was clueless and DS making no progress - we involved a private SLT - LA didn't want to admit the NHS couldn't do it so let us have DPs to avoid the argument.

If the cost of private SLT is less than the unit then she has a good argument for it.

Here you can't access a unit without a EHC anyway so thats why I assumed would be getting one.

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