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Teen SEN issues - suggestions gratefully received(7 Posts)
A long time lurker and very occasional poster, I am hoping (again) for potential suggestions of what and where next. I have name changed because this is very identifying due to location and I dont want links being made between my normal name and this post. This is likely to be long, and I apologise, but I want to get the whole picture down, if at all possible.
DS is 13, is diagnosed ASD (high functioning, IMO, but maybe just very good at masking), Dyspraxia and mild ADHD (but not on any medication as it is too mild), he also has Duanes syndrome and for him this means he has no peripheral vision on one side. He has always had issues at school, all his reports have commented on his need to improve his concentration, focus and his lack of speed when writing. However I have felt that my concerns there is something else underlying has been put down to me being an anxious/overprotective mum, unable to see that he can do if he chooses.
However, today I have had a long and interesting chat with a teacher at his school who takes him and 3 others for extra English lessons 3 times a week. She feels focus and concentration are not an issue but she is very concerned about his writing ability, agrees with me that something else is causing problems and has suggested I get him referred by the GP for assessment. She says when he is reading or taking parts in discussions he is maybe slower than expected for his age, but she has no real concerns. But recording his work in any written form is extremely painfully slow - this goes for writing, typing, copying, having a scribe or even just filling in the blanks with one from a choice of words. At home it is often much the same, school work has been managed at the equivalent of approx one word every three minutes (it is a case of something like half an hour to think of a sentence, and then quarter of an hour to write 15 words - so 45 minutes to compose and write the sentence). Non-prescribed work tends to be quicker, but is also much shorter, note taking style. So e.g. typing in conversations on roblox - maybe 5 words at a time; listing information for Minecraft - very short notes as an aide memoir. And it is always on his terms.
The Sensory Inclusion Service assessed him at school yesterday and have signed him off saying he copes extremely well with his Duanes and there is nothing they can do, but to get him assessed for Irlens syndrome. On top of this I am going to see if he can be referred back to Occupation Therapy in case there is anything else they can do (he had 11 1-1 sessions after his Dyspraxia dx in yr 3 - 6 school based ones, 5 in a dedicated room mainly working on his proprioception issues). Finally I am going to see if he can be referred for assessment for Auditory Processing Disorder, he seems to match many of the points on this checklist.
He is very visual, and great when things are hands on. He was recently shown up to a dozen different animal skulls and could correctly identify 8 of them after the first telling, and all of them after a reminder of the other 3, and probably could still now, 3 weeks later. Show him something, let him watch a programme and he will remember it. Let him read something or listen repeatedly to something and it will probably stick, although it takes longer. MAke him copy something out and you have no chance of him retaining anything, no matter how many times you force him to do it.
He isnt statemented or on an ECHP, but he is falling further and further behind, especially where writing is concerned - across all subjects. (Lack of statement as primary was brilliant with managing him without, last year his SENCo wasnt approachable, this year brand new to the role SENCo has suggested it but no more)
So - what would you do? Is there anything else you would want him assessed for? Would you look at going private for an assessment? If so, are there any suggestions as to who - I am located within Telford and Wrekin (I really cannot afford this, but it would be helpful to get opinions). Moving school is a consideration for Yr 10, as I am looking at a UTC where he will at least have the chance to gain some skills towards an apprenticeship, however now is not really an option, and anyone who knows the area will understand the situation with the local secondary schools. Any other suggestions?
Thank you in advance for reading and any suggestions given.
I would definitely recommend getting an independent educational psychology assessment!!
They will look at all of his skills and difficulties and make recommendations.
Have you considered applying for an EHCP yourself? Lots of people on here including myself have done this and there is lots of help and advice available.
If he it is likely that he needs additional provision to access the curriculum and to make progress then an EHC needs assessment could be the way to go.
The EP report would help you to decide.
It sounds to me as if he has a verbal short term memory problem or an expressive language issue. If the latter he needs assessment by a SALT therapist. If he can see or do it he's OK but verbal causes a problem. Just think about all the steps to go through to enable writing: hear, understand and hold the task in memory; think about the content of what to write; organise it into a sentece; begin to write thinking about spelling, grammar and content. Most of us do this automatically but it can be difficult. An EP will pick this up but some specialist teachers like myslef are also equipped to do it.
Try the following: practise playing a game where one says a word and the other responds as fast as possible with the first word in his head. Over time bring in school subjects. using a laptop or similar encourage your son with a topic from school and he's to give as many words related to it as poss. You or TA/teacher write them down, then help to organise into sections and add any extra words. Support your son to organise into sentences while you write. This may feel as if you're doing too much but he needs this level of support. pm me if you want to talk further.
Actually perfect age - coming up to the start of year 9 - for any assessments as they will count for access arrangements for exams as long as they done at the right time.
I'd be saying have handwriting tested - DASH - and typing to set baselines. A decent EP would do this, given your son's profile. Try something like Dragondictate to see if that makes a difference, the independence it gives is amazing and usually much, much better than a scribe in that you are not being judged. What's more, it can read back what you have written.
From his learning preferences, I don't think APD is very likely. You can access this, I think, through GOSH - via GP referral to local auditory testing, down to London. Very long-winded.
Given his diagnosis with Duanes, wasn't he thoroughly assessed for visual difficulties? Saying that, DS1 did vision clinic and that was amazing.
Is he happy at school? What are his GCSE choices? Does he want to move?
Thank you all for the replies. So an indie ed psych report is really the way to go, I was afraid of that as I will struggle to afford it (as in, pay for MOT and service and be able to get to work, or pay for ed psych ), but at the same time I will fund it somehow. Does anyone have any recommendations for the west mids area?
Ineed I will also willingly consider an submitting a request for an EHCP assessment myself. I am kicking myself for not trying for a statement towards the end of Primary, but better now than never. I am slightly wary as his school is under a new academy trust and I could do without rocking the boat too much, but then, I can't guarantee the support will be there anyway.
Tissie that sounds great, but when he is having to write a soliloquy from Benedict's P.O.V (Much Ado About Nothing - based on the masked ball when his character is ripped to pieces), I wouldn't have a clue where to begin (and neither did he). However, it is something I will try over the summer. Giving extra help is nothing new , and if it helps him, I will consider anything. As for all the steps, if you add in the problems his dyspraxia causes with remembering how to form the words, how hard to press on the paper and more, then it becomes even worse.
AYear I am worried it is too late and that his self confidence with writing has taken such a battering over the last 9+ years that now he truly believes he cannot do it. But this crucial timing is what has triggered my latest push, as it has been started with his extra English support teacher trying to get his exam access arrangements sorted.
His Duane's was dx'd at about 8 months, believe it or not (6 months corrected). The health visitor thought he had a squint (knew his family well and was aware half siblings had had squints), got him referred to the hospital, and the consultant was able to diagnose at a very young age. But equally, although under regular testing in case his vision tunnelled, and still having regular eye tests as he has had glasses since the age of 4, he hasn't had any more detailed tests than the average person.
He is settled at school, he has a small group of good friends, he knows the teachers, he knows his way around. He doesn't especially enjoy school, but that is because he struggles with so much of it. But, staying where he is will not, I feel, enable him to reach his full potential. Attending the local Arts/Tech Sixth Form part time and doing vocational qualifications is a possibility in his GCSE years, but again I do not feel that he would benefit greatly from this, plus it would mean him transitioning to a new establishment anyway, although he would spend part of his time still at the school he is now. He hasn't had options yet, and it is changing (along with everything else) next year, he has expressed an interest in ICT or Food as a tech option (or both if at all possible), but that is it. Honestly, if the UTC was in this town, I would have very few qualms about moving him, it is that he will have a journey to the next town each day that is causing me most concern.
a friend of mine whose son with with aspergers was in a normal secondary who was being bullied and no doing well at all (the school didnt seem to give a toss and were unreasonable) had independent assessments done - she was on dss but just made it happen - cost a couple grand but at the end she got provision for him to go to specialist aspergers school and private taxi for transport paid for by the council. so i'd go for it if i were you. secondary will be hell otherwise.
Really need to be very careful when looking at UTC's: check out the DfE 2017 GCSE provisional results. If I have guessed your local UTC correctly?? then massively under-subscribed - so financially not viable - 21% got good passses in maths & English & 13% persistent absence - so treat with care.
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