Can anyone share their experiences of Speech and Language units?

(13 Posts)
BoogleMcGroogle Thu 12-May-16 09:54:21

Hello all. To cut a long story short, our son (age 4, yr R) has a long history of SAL difficulties. He has verbal dyspraxia and severe phonological disorder. He has some other issues too related to vestibular difficulties and hearing loss because of years of glue ear. It has become evident that his school, despite their very good intentions, cannot meet his needs. It is a very small, private school and we have had to initiate and fund any extra support. He is not really very happy at school at the moment (he knows he's 'different' and peers comment on his speech all the time and call him a baby) and has not made expected progress with his learning.

He is now going through an EHC assessment, with SAL as the primary area of needs and both our private and independent speech therapist suggest he would be a good candidate for our local SAL unit, which has a good reputation.

The unit is in a large infant school about 8 miles from home. We cannot take him there as I have my daughter to get to school, so he would go in a taxi provided by the local authority. I'm worried about him losing contact with his friends, about him settling into a bigger school and about the logistics of managing children at 2 different schools (I work during the day, but my hours are very flexible).

It would be so helpful to hear the experiences of anyone else who has had to make this choice for their child.

I so wanted him to be happy in his little school, with his sister, and I really thought that he would have improved by now. This is never what I imagined for him but I just need to know whatever we decide is for the best (cue the waterworks, better stop typing now....)

OP’s posts: |
Frusso Thu 12-May-16 10:43:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BoogleMcGroogle Thu 12-May-16 11:15:12

Thanks. I have a date to visit the unit soon and the speech therapist based in the unit is happy to put us in touch with other families, which will be really helpful.

The unit I am looking at has the structure you describe. While I am happy with the morning set up, I have concerns about the afternoon, as the mainstream children are in large open-plan classrooms (so three classes to a huge room) and our son has hearing loss and glue ear. Also, his vestibular issues mean he's quite disregulated in large, noisy spaces.

Thanks for your thoughts.

OP’s posts: |
Frusso Thu 12-May-16 12:00:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

zzzzz Thu 12-May-16 13:47:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SandunesAndRainclouds Thu 12-May-16 20:59:50

My DD(8) moved to a speech & language SSC last year.

Educationally she has come on loads. She's more compliant with doing homework, will read aloud, and her speech is improving.

I fought to protect direct speech & language therapy in her EHCP.

DD has also had glue ear / hearing loss and auditory processing difficulties. She is in mainstream in the afternoon with 1:3 support (shared with 2 other SSC children). She seems to be coping fairly well with it, I would like to see her social skills improving too but that may take time.

It was a big decision to move her there. I wasn't happy with her in mainstream despite having 1:1 support as they didn't have the skills to support her S&L needs. I was on the cusp of Home Ed. but the staff at the new school / SSC had the experience she needed to nurture her development. I viewed the unit a couple of times with and without DD before I made my choice.

Good luck flowers

BoogleMcGroogle Thu 12-May-16 21:39:13

Thanks for sharing your experiences.

I get what Sandunes is saying about not having the experience. DS goes to a lovely school which is very nurturing and good at what they do. Unfortunately, it's not just that the don't have the experience, but they don't know enough about SAL difficulties to see exactly what the problems are. His teacher showed me the 'progress' he had made this year 'to put my mind at rest' and I felt much less at ease now as she thinks it's all fine.

zzzzz I really don't like the idea of a taxi, this is why we turned down a SAL nursery a couple of years ago. I think that we might do as you suggest and get someone to do my daughter's drop off a couple of days a week, as she's very settled at school and pretty resilient. I also worry about DS not wanting to get in the taxi. He's so strong willed if he doesn't want to get in, he simply won't get in!

OP’s posts: |
SandunesAndRainclouds Thu 12-May-16 21:52:24

DD's unit has slightly different hours so I can just about make it between the two schools - obviously your 8 miles is tricky to navigate!

Her previous school disputed problems until year 1 until it was all so glaringly obvious they couldn't hide away from it any more. We paid for a private educational psychology assessment which was probably the biggest turning point of them all.

My neighbour's DC goes in a taxi to a ASD unit and the escorts (?) seem very good at coping with his refusal / strong will.

zzzzz Thu 12-May-16 23:19:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SlightlyCrumpled Sun 15-May-16 07:59:30

Hi, my DS finished at his S&L unit last year at the end of year 6. We had moved him midway through year 2 from our very lovely, outstanding mainstream primary.

It was a brilliant decision for so many reasons. His speech improved beyond belief (he was unintelligible making only vowel sounds), he was taught in a class situation instead of being isolated with his 1:1 all of the time & he visibly relaxed over the first couple of weeks. The effort of trying to keep up in MS was just too much for him.

He did / does go in a taxi (he was 6 when he first moved) and I was most upset about this as there was no way we could commit to taking him the 15 miles every day & sort out our other son. But it worked out brilliantly. It is the same driver / escort every day and there have always been a couple of other children in with him. Don't feel guilty if you do need to use transport, the majority of children in the unit will be.

Good luck OP & hope you like it when you visit. DH & I both had a few tears when we first looked around - a mixture of relief that it was going to be great for him and sadness that he needed it in the first place.

BoogleMcGroogle Mon 16-May-16 15:15:48

Another belated thank you to everyone who posted.

We now have an appointment to look at out closest primary, plus a small village primary local to us and the speech and language base.

At the moment I think that the base would be our first choice, but I am keeping our options open.

I feel so much more confident about this have read your experiences, both of mainstream schools and SAL units.

OP’s posts: |
zzzzz Mon 16-May-16 16:31:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

jumpupanddown Mon 04-Sep-17 13:47:02

Hi, just to let you know I have organised a free conference/meet up for families with children with Verbal Dyspraxia with speaker from the Nuffield and from Afasic on 13 September in London which seemed to cover off some of your topics above. Please fill in the doodle poll if you're able to come:
Verbal Dyspraxia Conference and Meet Up
13 September 2017: From 10.30am to 3pm
At: Zetland House 5-25 Scrutton St, London EC2A 4HJ
10.30am arrive and coffee
11am: Introduction – Hayley Kohn – parent -
11.30am: Talk by Dr. Pamela Williams PhD FRCSLT HCPC (reg)
Consultant Speech and Language Therapist/Team Manager (Developmental disorders)
Nuffield Hearing and Speech Centre
RNTNE Hospital
How the Nuffield programme works; How to get referred; Recommendations whilst waiting for referral; How to combine with local therapists to get the programme delivered; How to re-enforce in schools; What to do if a child’s progress stagnates or if they continue to struggle with certain speech sounds as they get older.
12.30pm Afasic – Alison Huneke, Helpline Manager
Language and speech units. How Afasic can help.
1pm Break for lunch and chat
2pm Afasic – Alison Huneke, Helpline Manager: Special education needs and the law. Disability Living Allowance.
3pm - Home

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