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Reasonable adjustment-practice fire drill at school

(9 Posts)
sugaraddict Tue 07-Mar-17 14:00:20

DD (ASD) is in year 10 in mainstream secondary. She has an EHCP and started at this school in September. She has been suffering from extreme anxiety (yet again), was signed off for a couple of weeks before half term and has been in perhaps 50% of the time since then.

After a bad start to the week yesterday where she didn't make it to school, she put on a very brave face and went in this morning. We just got a phone call from the school to say that they had a fire drill and it has affected her so badly that she needs picking up. They reckon that they aren't allowed to give her advance notice. This is a child with well documented sensory difficulties, especially with noise. She doesn't speak to other pupils in class so was hardly going to tell everyone!

Having a meeting with SENCO in the morning and just wondered if anyone knew whether there are any laws why she couldn't be given notice. Seems like a reasonable adjustment to me. Our chances of getting her back to school tomorrow are next to nonexistent and it could so easily have been avoided.

Any thoughts appreciated.

Friolero Tue 07-Mar-17 14:41:19

Oh gosh, that's a tricky one. I do feel for your DD, but I really don't think the school can give advance warning for a fire drill as I can't see that it would fulfil the requirements of the drill. If there was a real fire there would be no warning, and the school need to know all the children can get out safely with no warning.

There was a (thankfully minor) fire at my DC's special needs school a while back, and the school did an amazing job of getting everyone out quickly and safely, and keeping them outside until parents could collect them - the fire alarm was going off for a long time which a lot of the children found distressing. However, the school needs fire drills without warning precisely for this reason, so that if it does happen they know they can get all the children outside as calmly and safely as possible when they're not prepared for it. If anyone knows it's going to happen then they're not prepared for the unexpected element if it does happen for real.

I'm sorry and I hope you can get your DD back into school. Somebody else may be able to answer your question more accurately from a legal perspective, but this is just my opinion on it.

sugaraddict Tue 07-Mar-17 15:16:38

Thanks for your thoughts. She's home now but after major meltdown , hitting , swearing and sitting down in middle of the road. We haven't seen anything so extreme for a long time.

I understand what you're saying. She actually managed to follow all the procedures but it really hit her afterwards. So they now know she can do it. Is it really necessary to put her through all that stress at the expense of her education and mental health? I've been in many work situations and indeed one or two educational ones where advance notice was given. It seemed to be more to ensure that everyone knows exactly what to do in the event of a real fire. Anyway, food for thought

MinimumPaymentMaximumBurrito Tue 07-Mar-17 15:20:56

It's a very frequent problem for kids with ASD. Will she wear ear defenders? Having some very robust ear defenders nearby could at least shut down one sensory channel and help with her overload.

Alternatively a single member of staff could be dedicated to helping her manage her stress over it. Role play might be good in this situation.

The more you familiarise her with fire drills the less overwhelmed she will be with them.

Give her lots of the things that support her emotional regulation for the pretend drills - fidgets, compression, ear defenders, favourite items, etc.

Good luck.

sugaraddict Tue 07-Mar-17 15:54:30

Good ideas Minimum. Thing is that she has noise cancelling headphones and fidget toys in her school bag and is allowed to use them. She also has a one to one. I think that if they really can't give her any notice then they need to have a plan in place to help her cope and make sure that she knows what to expect. Actually that should be in place even if they can give her notice.

Will suggest this in meeting, thanks for help.

mummytime Tue 07-Mar-17 16:13:31

My DD used to be warned about fire drills. It wasn't a Special school which I can see makes a difference.
Her schools attitude is that a meltdown might be acceptable for a real emergency but not just for a routine practice. And the noise sensitive students are often the best at obeying instructions.

UserReuser Tue 07-Mar-17 18:01:32

There is no reason why someone couldn't go ad collect from her class and walk out 1 min before on a made up errand really is there? E.g. Can you take this important letter to the office for me, then she's told there or someone walks into class and asked her to pop out with them then explains what is about to happen. We did this at my school and I can't think why not!

sugaraddict Tue 07-Mar-17 20:03:59

Interesting to know that other schools do give warning. There must be ways around it, although as DD said 'there won't be another for a year now'. But I would just like school to understand the seriousness of the effect it had on DD and try to be more proactive in helping her manage difficult situations. Hope they listen tomorrow

Allthewaves Wed 08-Mar-17 10:56:39

Could you talk to her 1:1. Perhaps have a set drill for dd. She puts on her earphones and her 1:1 perhaps takes her straight out to the designated area

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