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Confused about school choices

(14 Posts)
LadyDowagerHatt Sun 12-Feb-17 21:51:22

My DD is 3.8 and has a global developmental delay. To give you an idea of where she is at, she walks but can't run, jump or do stairs, she has around 100 single words (very good at labelling and we have been working quite successfully on demands), she is behind cognitively and struggles with fine motor skills and self care. She is very social and interactive in her own way though and is generally a complete delight. We do not know the cause of her delays but I should imagine she will get a label of learning disability when she is 5.

She has been making slow but steady progress at her playgroup but the gap between her and her peers is widening and at the review meeting a few months ago we were advised to visit the school for severe to moderate special needs. We loved the school but my one concern was that in reception my DD would be one of the more able pupils by quite some way so wouldn't have peer role models to learn from.

For the last few weeks we have being doing ABA for 3 hours a week - my DD loves it and we have seen some progress. Then on Friday at the EHCP review meeting we were told that when my DD was being assessed by the educational psychologist and the SALT they had also seen some great progress - namely following instructions, improved focus and concentration, attempting to join in with some children building a tower. So, after months of coming to terms with her going to the special needs school and reaching acceptance of it, we were told that mainstream with full time support is now an option! The other option would be to repeat her nursery year and go into the year below as she is a summer birthday.

Obviously after getting over the shock (it really did blindside us!) we are delighted that we have these other options! We spent the rest of the meeting debating them for the EHCP but we didn't get any closer to making a decision (I know we don't have to yet) and said we would see how she does over the next few weeks.

Sorry this is so long so if you have got this far I would love to hear any advice on how to make the decision, what to consider etc. And anyone who has a DC with a similar profile what did you do and how are they doing?

vjg13 Mon 13-Feb-17 15:35:52

Mainstream with support is always a cheaper option for the LEA and can be suggested when it really isn't appropriate. What does your child need in terms of physio, SALT, OT etc? There would probably be better access to that in a special school.

tartanterror Mon 13-Feb-17 22:11:35

No experience of this, but if it were me I would grab the chance of an extra year in nursery and apply to defer the school place on the basis of SEN (a friend reckons this is possible although process not well known). That means your DD would be the oldest in year, rather than one of the youngest, which would improve her chances of doing well in mainstream with support. You will also get more time to research schools as you may find another special setting out of area which is better suited. Whichever way, more time sounds like a good way to go. Good luck!

LadyDowagerHatt Tue 14-Feb-17 05:19:08

Thanks for your replies. Vjg13, I did wonder if the about turn to mainstream may be with costs in mind but would they be thinking in those terms yet - we are only at the assessment stage? Is the educational psychologist independent in all of this or does she act on behalf of the LA and so would be mindful of costs?

In terms of support she would need SALT and OT, maybe physio but not regularly. We were hoping to request ABA funding but I know it is a long shot!

LadyDowagerHatt Tue 14-Feb-17 05:27:49

Thanks tartanterror - that was my view also and is actually what we started to explore a year ago when her delays first became evident. We were then told it wasn't an option due to her lack of progress, now it seems to be back on the table. You are right it can be done and everyone seems to be on side so hopefully we will have a chance. Thanks for the good luck wishes - I think I will need it, we are only at assessment stage and it is already an emotional rollercoaster!

vjg13 Tue 14-Feb-17 15:06:30

The EP works for the LEA and reports tend to downplay difficulties to minimise the options of more expensive provision. An independent EP report will differ widely from the LA one when discribing the same child.

If your daughter repeats a year at nursery would she then have to skip a year later on, I have seen this happen where a child repeated a school year and then moved from year 5 to secondary school?

vjg13 Tue 14-Feb-17 15:08:02

'Describing the same child' blush

youarenotkiddingme Tue 14-Feb-17 17:48:46

My first question would be to pre school.
Do they agree that the widening gap has suddenly closed?

I'd want to make sure the report reflected the truth rather than budgets before making a decision.

Ultimately though my personal choice would be the option that allowed DD to develop the most amount of independence. So will she always need an adult facilitating everything in mainstream?

Allthewaves Tue 14-Feb-17 20:01:37

I'd jump at a nursery year repeat as she will then go into reception and not jumped to yr1. My middle ds is summer baby and I often think he would have coped so much better and school been much easier if we had option to delay a school year

Allthewaves Tue 14-Feb-17 20:03:23

As she will then = as long as she goes into reception not yr1.

Also give you a chance to get a better idea of her abilities and allow you longer to make the decision between special school or mainstream

blaeberry Tue 14-Feb-17 21:17:19

I would actually be a bit more wary about repeating nursery. Repeating might be useful but it is no substitute for a proper placement and proper support. 'Delayed' doesn't generally mean she is learning at the normal pace just six months behind other children; as you have noticed the gap is likely to widen. Repeating nursery might just mean not putting appropriate support in place for another year. If you do repeat, make sure she still gets SALT, OT, Physio, ABA etc while she is at an SEN nursery.

Everything anybody from the LA tells you about your child is likely to include a consideration of cost.

LadyDowagerHatt Wed 15-Feb-17 03:34:50

Thanks all, some interesting points.

I should have said, the repeat year would only be on the basis that she then stays with the year below, she doesn't jump back up to her correct year.

Youarenotkiddingme unfortunately nobody is saying that the gap is closing, more just that there were some good signs of progress in her own right. The playgroup do agree with the educational psychologist that these things happened, I guess the issue for debate is how significant they are and what they mean. Also it was one session, we need to make sure this continues.

Blaeberry - good point, this was the reason why we first went with the sn school rather than delaying a year, we thought what is the point of her doing another year at nursery when she could be at SN school getting the support she needs.

If she did repeat nursery it would be at a mainstream school nursery, not a SN one. I would need to ensure she gets everything she needs in her EHCP there - to be honest ABA is the only thing I have seen her make real progress with so that would be my priority over SALT, again I know that's a long shot. I think the possibility of funded ABA is making me lean towards the nursery option as that wouldn't be an option if she went to SN school. One question came up today, if she did repeat would she still have an EHCP even though she is not at school?

youarenotkiddingme Wed 15-Feb-17 07:41:55

Yes an EHCP can be issued at any age. It's needs based not just for school.

If she's making progress with the right support but gap isn't closing personally I'd lean towards SS. She'll continue to get targeted input and is maybe more likely to have a peer group.

The other question I'd ask is can she remain in nursery and then still go to SS if needed. It's another option.

The sort of things I'd be looking is is developmental and cognitive age. So for example if it's 2 years now then yes, starting school at 4 will be difficult. But if her progress in slower than peers - starting hear R at 5 when for example she's developmentally 2.5 still leaves her with an equivilent gap. (Iyswim?)

LadyDowagerHatt Wed 15-Feb-17 12:17:01

Thanks **youarenotkiddingme. I don't know what her cognitive age is but I would imagine it would make me cry! I see what you mean, it's back to the original concern that a bigger gap would very quickly develop between my DD and her peers in the year below. The only hope would be progress via ABA, which as I said we have seen. It is more around removing the barriers to learning though (improved attention etc) than any cognitive improvements at this stage.

The one issue about SS is the peer group. When we visited the school it was difficult to see that she would have one - in reception there are only 8 children and many of those are on the severe end of the spectrum as they could not feasibly go to any other school. I understand that as you go up the school the range of abilities becomes wider as some of the relatively more able pupils transfer in from mainstream. It just seems that she is in the middle of this SS and MS so doesn't have a natural peer group.

We are going to visit a special needs school tomorrow which has a focus on speech, language and communication difficulties. I am hoping that may be a better fit for her, although it would mean we would have to let go of the possibility of funded ABA. It is also predominantly ASD related so not an ideal fit as she obviously doesn't have any of the behavioural or social challenges related to ASD.

It is so difficult knowing what to do for the best!

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