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EHCP - feeling a bit lost...(10 Posts)
My DS is 3.5, has a diagnosis of ASD and will be starting school next Sept. We are just about to request an EHCP as I feel he will need a lot of extra support at school - particularly he only understands things at a single word level, barely speaks unless prompted and only at single word level, has sensory issues plus lots of social anxiety and needs support to interact with others. Also unlikely to be toilet trained in the next year. He has been put at band 2 to 3 provisionally by preschool which I gather means he won't automatically get an EHCP and we have to apply for one. What I am wondering is: how likely is it that he will get one, or will we have to fight for it? And is it possible to get good support without one? I am just feeling quite overwhelmed and terrified at the thought of him starting school without decent support in place and desperately want to avoid that situation. Any general advice very welcome. Thank you.
From what you describe it sounds like he would get an EHCP, although you may have to fight to get one that provides adequate support. It is definitely worth doing and many of us here can help if you get stuck. Also IPSEA and SOSSEN are very good at supporting parents through the process.
Sounds v similar to where we were 3 years ago. We ended up with a statement of SEN (what you used to get before EHCP).
I would advise you do the following:
- write to your LEA requesting an assessment of your child's needs. Enclose relevant evidence you have to support this eg diagnosis letter. See ipsea.org.uk for model letters. Do this soonish as although it seems ages away the process can take a while
- be prepared to appeal if your request is refused - this is fairly standard. Apparent 90% of parental requests are turned down but of the parents who then appeal, 90% of them win at appeal stage.
Act now to allow for the time for the process itself and at least one appeal. Also start looking at schools and thinking about type of placement, e.g. Mainstream / unit / special school...
You're on this website nearly a full year before your child starts so you're in a good place and in a position to have a good ehcp in place, try not too worry too much (easier said than done I know!)
I know that lots of people say "just get started as it takes ages" but it really paid off for us to go a little slowly and write the best application that we could. It you start now, you could send it in before Xmas when relatively few other applications are being sent in. I think that was one of the things that helped us - we were told our son was too able to qualify for help and you seem to have much more evidence of need than us by the sound of it. If you can get through the first hurdle which is "Agree to Assess" you have a very high chance of getting an EHCP in place and so this is by far the quickest way forward (appeals could add at least a year or so to the process). I highly recommend going on an IPSEA Law foundation course - there are some coming up this autumn and you can also do it online.
They key thing is to look at what evidence you have. A diagnosis report? Any S< information? OT? Nursery Reports? If you don't have much, then concentrate on that to start with. Can your nursery help by getting professionals to come in to advise on what he finds difficult and what "provision" he might require. What you want them to describe is a list of his SEN (listed our under the 4 Areas of Need from the SEN COP) and the a list of what things should be put in place to meet that need. It is that list which will help establish what sort of school placement he will need so it is worth getting all the information that you can. Try your local children's centre - sometimes you can do a drop in with an S< and take your child along. You may need to arrange for an audiology review to check his hearing if that hasn't happened already. Your LA Ed Psych service might offer drop in sessions where they could advise on the type of provision which might suit - although they don't tend to do a proper assessment. Try and find out who your local inclusion service is and try to speak to an ASD specialist teacher for advice on what might be needed.
You are looking to establish a list of "behaviour indicating un-met needs" in the nursery/school setting and how his SEN "limits his access to the curriculum".
Keep notes of all meetings, discussions and phone calls for use in your EHC request. You can make notes or diary entries about different events - eg uncooperative behaviour, signs of stress, . If you then type them up and add a date, this can be included in your evidence bundle. It also works for phone calls and meetings with different professionals.
In my request letter I downloaded the IPSEA template request so I had the proper jargon at the start and end but I enlarged their single page to 4 pages. I started with my son's name, age, school, year and diagnosis; when the diagnosis was made and by whom. Then I made a list of all the professionals who have seen him; then a list of the referrals we were waiting to come through. I also included some other names of professionals I had consulted about my son but who hadn't met him. I then said he had SEN which limited his access to the curriculum as set out under the 4 areas of need (insert list). I then wrote 3 or 4 paragraphs covering the main problems that we had had which told his particular story. I tried to cover the biggest problem first and then lesser issues in order of importance. I thought about how I could best tell our story to a stressed/overworked LA staff member and make it easy for them to understand and to Agree to Assess. At the end of the letter I used the IPSEA paragraphs about the legal test for SEN to show how he met the test; and the evidence I had to show he would benefit from an EHCP ( I asked a professional to write in support of a plan so could use that letter). 4 weeks after the application was sent I followed up to say I was looking forward to receiving news of Agree to Assess as I was sure they had seen page xx confirming a delay in yy and page zz where the professional supported an EHCP. I wrote it in such a way they could cut and paste it into their paperwork. It worked - they said yes so we didn't have to appeal. I still can't believe it but I really recommend getting to understand the law and then being very clear about how your son meets the criteria, with evidence to back it up.
Sorry for rambling but I'd be happy to look at your draft request if you PM it to me at some point in the future. Good luck!
PS you could probably use the EYFS targets to show that he is behind. Also try googling London Borough of Camden's assessment guidance for EHCP - they have a questionnaire that you could maybe ask the nursery to fill out. Our school didn't see the ASD , but it was their questionnaire responses to the paed that helped with the diagnosis - and I used those same things in the EHC request. In particular things that are pointed out as bad behaviour you can list as "evidence of unmet needs"!
Thank you so much for your replies so far. Incredibly helpful. Tartanterror thank you so much for all your suggestions. I may well ping you my draft if that offer still stands. But you have given me plenty to go on in the meantime. Thank you again
Just one question Tartanterror if I could ask, what professional did you ask to support your request to assess? I was wondering about preschool's senco. The other professionals we have seen eg SLT are employed by the Local Authority so maybe not best. Or we have a private SLT involved at moment but not sure whether the Local Authority would listen to her views...
We asked 2 different psychologists and an S<. It is best if you can get someone from the NHS and/or school/nursery to write that as private reports don't seem to be quite so compelling - the LA tends to think you get what you ask for - which is a bit unfair. I did it by discussing the sort of thing that DS would need and then saying we think x or Y - what do you think? And if they were supportive I asked if they would be prepared to put it in writing. Then ask as many people as you can think of as quality/how fast they arrive his very variable. The first psych's letter sat on the fence a bit but supported assessment - that's what went with out application. The 2nd psych letter turned up later and was plainly in support of a plan. The S< advice was very vague but put in a little bit about managed transition to secondary for us. Best of Luck
Hi, agree with what PPs have said.
I understand that there are also private SEN consultants around who can help with preparation of EHCP applications. We were told about one in our area who used to work for the LA so she should know the best way to approach it, what to write etc. Were told it costs around £500 though
The legal criteria for deciding whether to carry out an EHC needs assessment, the first stage in the process, are that the child has or may have SEN, and may need special educational support through an EHC plan. Therefore it's quite a low hurdle.
However, some local authorities refuse assessment almost routinely to put parents off. So don't worry if your LA does this and don't be scared of appealing: it's relatively easy to appeal against refusal of assessment as the appeal is dealt with on paper without a hearing. SOS SEN can probably help.