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DS1(4.5) struggling at school, moved down a year, school have made referral - how to help support DS1?

(9 Posts)
DreamFever Fri 18-Mar-16 12:59:24

Namechanged in case some of the details get too identifying.

DS1 (4.5) started reception last September at an independent school (this is relevant). It became increasingly clear that he was having difficulty, and before the autumn half term, he was moved down into the school's nursery class. DS1 is an August baby and was 6 weeks early, so there's not a big age difference between DS1 and the oldest children in the nursery class.

We hoped that DS1's problems were down to his relative immaturity and being the youngest in the class. But he continued to have difficulties. His teacher informed us that DS1 was behind on the social, emotional and behavioural strand of his development, and behind than many of the children in nursery in this aspect of development (they consider him to be developing normally in all other areas).

Their concerns include an inability to observe boundaries, difficulty integrating with his peers, difficulty understanding consequences, unwillingness to listen (unless the topic is of interest to him), difficulty understanding the feelings of others. He swings between being very distractable and so focused on an activity of his choice that it's almost impossible to get his attention. DS1 often makes loud noises - wordless screeching, imitating train whistles or car horns and so on. Ironically he gets very frightened and distressed by other loud noises, especially if they're unexpected. He also tends to get overexcited very easily and tends to get increasingly energetic as he gets tired.

At home, I have also been concerned that DS1's behaviour is not quite normal when compared to other children of a similar age that we're familiar with, especially DS2. DS2 is 2.5yrs, is 2 yrs younger than DS1, but in general, compared to DS1, DS2 is calmer, less impulsive, quieter (in terms of the loud wordless noises. DS2 rarely does this unless copying DS1), better at staying near me / DH when we're out, and better at listening and following instructions.

Around Christmas, the school told us that they wanted to refer DS1 to the council so that he could get extra support. A meeting was set up and a CAF form filled in.

The school wrote to the GP requesting a referral to a paediatrician. We have since had an appointment with the paediatrician - she said that she will send an observation form to the school to get more details about his behaviour there before making a decision about whether further assessment is appropriate. She's also arranging a hearing test and a skull x-Ray and a brain MRI (due to issues around DS1's birth). We're waiting for dates for these.

We have also had visits from a family support worker from the council. She has given some advice about managing behaviour at home, but DS1's behaviour issues seem more apparent at school. She has asked what extra support DS1 is getting at school (it's not clear to us whether he is getting extra support at school), and why school haven't referred DS1 to an educational psychologist.
When I asked school, they initially said that education psychologists happens "further down the line", but last week they told me that because they're an independent school, they're not allowed to make referrals to educational psychologists. The family worker was a bit confused about this - she said that we might have to pay for the educational psychologist ourselves, but school should still be able to make a referral, because the educational psychologists need input from the school.
Also, school have a SENCO. We haven't met or spoken with the SENCO. All our meetings with school have just been with DS1's class teacher and the HT. I didn't realise that this might be unusual until the recent conversations with the family worker.

So... this has turned into a bit of an essay.... but I guess what I'm trying to figure out is, what do we need to do to support DS1? What kind of things do we need to be pushing for from school? Everyone has said to us that if DS1 does have some sort of SEN, then it's best to know early. What should we be doing (if anything) to help things along in terms of assessments done? What sort of things do we need to do to support DS1 in the meantime? I know nothing about all this and I don't really know where to start.

Squashybanana Fri 18-Mar-16 13:29:38

Any reason why he has to stay in this school? Independent mainstream school don't have to follow the code of practice for SEN (though many do) and you will not be eligible for most of your local authority's SEN support, for example specialist teacher visits, ed psych, etc and you may have a battle to get an EHCP should that become necessary (the code of practice is really unhelpful about EHCPs in private schools, but basically case law has demonstrated that if an LA names a private school on a child's EHCP they are liable to pay the fees, which obviously they don't want to do when the child could be at a state mainstream school without this additional cost).

But yes, you can employ a private EP to come and look at him. Most indie schools have a 'regular' that they use and can put you in touch with, but it will cost. I would also expect the SENCO to be in charge of your son's case if they are concerned enough that they are looking outside the school for expertise to support their understanding of him.

EyeoftheStorm Fri 18-Mar-16 18:24:51

This sounds like DS2 - he was premature and it put him out of his year. He had a stormy start that resulted in sensory processing disorder and the way you describe your DS is similar to DS2 before we really knew what was going on with him and got help in place.

He's at an independent school and they are very proactive with SEN. We held him back a year and he's now 6.5 and in year 1.

He struggled emotionally in nursery but a great OT and advice in here put us in the right track with his sensory problems. He's a different child now and is coming on in leaps and bounds.

It's really hard at the start when you don't know what it is - developmental? Prematurity? But see an OT, see a developmental paediatrician. Take a list of all the behaviours you're worried about and tell them of school concerns.

I've had a really good experience with an independent school but I know that's not the case for everybody.

DreamFever Fri 18-Mar-16 18:25:26

Part of the reason we went for the current school was because DS1 didn't get into any of the good state schools near us (we did apply for our nearest state school, which is the only school within walking distance of our home, but it was too oversubscribed).

And now he seems to have settled in well to his current school, so we've been reluctant at the idea of moving him because of the disruption and stress that would cause him. I guess that may be something we need to consider depending on the outcome of assessments and the level of support it looks like he needs.

If the SENCO would be expected to be in charge of DS1's case, would it be sensible to try and set up a meeting with the SENCO to talk about DS1 and figure out how to go about getting in touch with a private educational psychologist?

DreamFever Fri 18-Mar-16 18:27:44

EyeoftheStorm - What's an OT please?

EyeoftheStorm Fri 18-Mar-16 18:51:05

Occupational therapist. They look at how your DS interacts with his environment and peers, worked on my DS's low muscle tone with exercises and later his handwriting. She also write a report for the class teacher - things like sitting DS2 on the edge of the children on the carpet because he is very defensive and having someone behind him makes him anxious. Loads of stuff like that.

LIZS Fri 18-Mar-16 18:54:23

If you applied for an ehcp you could name the most appropriate state school. Independents are notoriously bad at accommodating SN long term. At 4 1/2 it may be an issue of maturity, in part at least, but do get an assessment which could gain appropriate intervention.

EyeoftheStorm Fri 18-Mar-16 18:58:43

This is the way I did it - over a few years because they're changing and developing.
GP - prematurity + bleeds on brain so my concerns taken seriously. Then developmental paediatrician who said he needed to be seen regularly and could probably benefit from OT. OT made a huge difference and saw her regularly. Recently saw an educational psychologist who looked at his cognitive abilities as big gap between his verbal skills and his academic skills.
All these interventions have given us a better understanding of DS2 and why he can be difficult. The more we know, the better able everyone is to unpick things when it goes wrong.
Everyone always says they wished they'd known earlier so it's really good that you know now when he's still little.

coffeemachine Fri 18-Mar-16 19:12:00

part of the reason we went for the current school was because DS1 didn't get into any of the good state schools near us

not sure what you mean by 'good'. often, the schools with the not so good ofstead ratings are actually much better, supportive and accomodating when it comes to SN than the outstanding rated schools.

generally, you will be better off at a state school in terms of support. I would maybe have a look at nearby state schools with a fresh pair of eyes.

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