Autistic but academically able child

(21 Posts)
ForeverBubblegum Wed 24-Jun-20 10:19:47

DS is 3 years and 8 months, and we have our first pediatrician appointment next week, on our way to a probable ASD diagnosis. Bit nervous about it, so any advice there would be welcome, but what I really asking about is how things are likely to go once he starts school (he go to a school nursery class in September).

The thing is, although he is definitely affected, his struggles are all related to social development or sensory issues. Academically (if you can apply that word to 3year olds) he is doing well. Sorry for the mum brag but possibly even above average. There are a few areas where he's has/had obsessive interest, and as a result is more knowledgeable than most adults. But even outside of his interests he's doing quite well, he knows his numbers and most letter sounds, just starting to blend.

I suppose my concern is his school will either look at his academic ability and decide he's doing fine, so not offer any support. Or will look at his social/behavioural issues and lower their expectations, so he doesn't reach his potential. Does anyone have any experience of this? And if so would you mind sharing how you managed to strike a balance?

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Niffler75 Wed 24-Jun-20 12:14:01

@ForeverBubblegum Hi, I have a 9yo son with complex needs who is also academically able. Are you going to apply for an EHC?
The key for my son is that he needs to learn in a certain way. He really struggles with social interaction and sensory processing.

ForeverBubblegum Wed 24-Jun-20 12:33:31

I think we will be applying for the EHP, but not sure what to expect with that. We were meant to have more meetings with current nursery, health visitor and a LA lady to discuss what support he might need in September, but was cancelled due to lockdown. He won't be back this year, so will have to start over with new setting.

To be honest I'm pretty new to all this, so not even sure what they can offer.

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ForeverBubblegum Wed 24-Jun-20 12:40:04

Can I ask what kind of help your son got? I'm not even really sure what to ask for.

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Doveyouknow Wed 24-Jun-20 12:46:22

My ds has asd and has a 1:1 in school. He is academically fine (apart for his terrible writing, common with asd) so follows the same curriculum as his classmates in his mainstream primary school. The 1:1 helps him keep on track and also supports him with social communication etc. In terms of expectations, they are the same as his peers but they are also working on him doing his work more independently / without being nagged by his 1:1.

Niffler75 Wed 24-Jun-20 13:05:26

@ForeverBubblegum My son has been home educated but is transitioning into a school where he can 1:1 or 2:1 with an adult. He will be in a small class of 5 with a bespoke curriculum and OT input. His needs are such that he just cannot cope with a busy mainstream setting, but he is clever and has the potential to do GCSES so a regular special school would not offer this in my area.
If I can point you in the direction of the resources I found most helpful. Special Needs Jungle, Ipsea and SOS SEN.
These websites will guide you step by step through the EHC process and what your son may be entitled to.
Also consider whether to apply for Disability Living Allowance.

ForeverBubblegum Wed 24-Jun-20 15:39:53

Thank you for the website recommendations @Niffler75, I'll have a read through when I get a chance.

I think our sons may be similar, DS really struggles in larger groups but 121 or small group, he does well. Your sons new setting sounds amazing, that would be ideal for DS, but I imagine very difficultto get placed at. I'm hoping DS will manage in mainstream with support, possibly a mix of 121 and small group work, plus work on some work coping strategies to try and get him more integrated with the whole class if/when he's ready.

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Niffler75 Wed 24-Jun-20 15:48:22

@ForeverBubblegum Good luck with everything. Pop back with any questions and see if we can help! 😊

Ellie56 Wed 24-Jun-20 21:53:13

Information here:

ForeverBubblegum Thu 25-Jun-20 12:50:12

Thank you @Ellie56

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PaolaNeri Fri 26-Jun-20 22:00:30

Hi @ForeverBubblegum,

I have had a lot of experience with schools, mainstream, mainstream with unit and special schools for my own 3 and with others I have supported. There can be huge differences in schools with regard to their SEN provision, from the actual SENCO and staff to the support that is offered. I have seen some absolutely amazing support right through to bloody shocking.

I still sigh when a parent with a socially and emotionally struggling child tells me the school say they wont get an EHCP because they are "too able". The criteria for an assessment for an EHCP does not include being academically able. This is a fantastic website I would recommend you looking at. I have linked it at a page which is ahead of where you are, but tackles that concern. It covers everything from nursery onwards.

If you are up to date and have some knowledge which this website and others give, you are forearmed!

Part of your little one starting Nursery along with academic development is his social and emotional development. I would ask for a meeting with the SENCO before he starts to go through the reports you have and for you to be able to explain about him. It's important the staff who work with him are aware so they can support him those areas. You will probably find school will have a set way they introduce phonics to all the children and he will start that from the beginning. Each setting is different and they should explain this when you have your new parent talk or raise it before at the suggested pre meeting.

Have a look at this link. It gives simple really clear advice on where you start and how things will progress.

There is a lot of information and legal points in the SEN world, it can seem daunting and extremely frustrating. My advice would be to learn as much as you can as it will empower you for the journey ahead. For the information you don't know or still have to learn, there are numerous support networks like those listed here. Other parents will also be fantastic resource tools.

One last thing, but really important is to have a look at your Local Offer, if don't yet know what this is, google whatever your local borough name is then add "Local Offer". This is a directory of the help and support resources within your borough and you will find lots of support contacts in here.

Good luck. [smiley]

elliejjtiny Mon 06-Jul-20 18:58:45

My 14 year old has Aspergers syndrome, which is basically the same as high functioning ASD. He is very academically able but struggles socially. He has really enjoyed lockdown as there is less pressure to be social and he can spend more time playing the piano. At school he has an individual learning plan which explains that he has aspergers syndrome but that's about it. He goes to a disability sports club which he loves. I was talking to the senco at school today as I worry that as he is so compliant and eager to please that his needs can be overlooked. My 12 year old who has less severe needs but who has a tendency to throw things when things get too much gets more support at school.

Magic2020 Fri 24-Jul-20 17:40:13

I have two with ASD and ADHD and both academically able and in secondary - one just about to start four A levels (unless something is very wrong with the GCSE predicting process), one just about to start 10 GCSEs.

It's been a struggle to be honest, a lot of people in schools who should know better keep trying to write them off. I've lost count of the number of times I've had to contact the schools and point out they could do x, y and z so why were they being sidelined. Expect to do a lot of that.

A couple of times over the years it's been suggested my youngest (who has an EHCP) would be better off in a special school, I think mainly because he was too awkward for the teachers to cope with. I pointed out that if he had more help (and discussed with them what sort of help) he would be doing much better and the teachers wouldn't need to be put out. Luckily they listened and it worked. Until the lockdown he was doing well, and had a couple of good friends in his class.

My first didn't get an EHCP because he was 'too able'. With my second the (amazing) SENCO at their primary school saw that he probably wouldn't get one either in a year or two and put in for a Statement as soon as he hit school, when his issues were much worse and he wasn't yet doing well academically.

Be prepared to be in constant contact with the school in some form, and also to put in a lot more work with your son at home than with NT kids. Try to keep your temper - remember it's your and your son's life, but it's mostly just a job to them. But value the ones who are trying to help, they're like gold dust.

Haworthia Sat 25-Jul-20 13:19:30

Hi @ForeverBubblegum your son sounds a bit like mine. It’s what they call a spiky profile, i.e. delayed in some areas, advanced in others. I realised my son was hyperlexic a few months before his 4th birthday. He just started reading things of his own accord. That’s actually when I knew for sure that he was autistic, because the two mostly go hand in hand.

I decided to defer his school start as he has a May birthday, which was the right decision considering how this year turned out. He starts Reception this September and I don’t know what they’ll do with him. His reading and maths abilities are off the scale, but has clear social/behavioural/sensory issues and will need lots of support for that. I think he’s going to struggle in a busy/noisy classroom environment.

I suppose my concern is his school will either look at his academic ability and decide he's doing fine, so not offer any support. Or will look at his social/behavioural issues and lower their expectations, so he doesn't reach his potential

This is my concern too. I’m going to read back over this thread to see what advice you’ve been given smile

scrunchSE18 Wed 29-Jul-20 17:12:54

My DD is the same. We started talking to The SENCO before she started nursery but didn’t get a diagnosis (HF ASD) until she was 5. She was hyperlexic (started reading at 2) but clearly had problems With social communication. Her targets at primary were always around social skills which is where she needed (and still needs support). School did sometimes need reminding such as when I told them she had read me the letter sent home about phonics and I wondered what she would be doing when others were sounding out ‘cat’ and she was reading words like ‘vocabulary’!
She found primary school demanding in terms of noise and structure and finding work easy meant she just decompressed when she got home. The structure of secondary school has suited her a lot more and the grammar school she goes to seems pretty rule heavy which suits her more too.

Haworthia Wed 29-Jul-20 21:02:19

School did sometimes need reminding such as when I told them she had read me the letter sent home about phonics and I wondered what she would be doing when others were sounding out ‘cat’ and she was reading words like ‘vocabulary’!

Sounds exactly like my son. What did the school do? Did they end up pitching things more at her level?

Was her comprehension well below her reading ability? This is quite common in hyperlexics, apparently.

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ForeverBubblegum Wed 29-Jul-20 22:13:34

Hi, sorry I've not been back, didn't realise the thread was active again.

Thank you for your telling me about your DC, it's been great reading about other children similar to DS.Hypalexia is probably something I'll need to read up on, so thank you to the poster who mentioned it. DS's reading is definitely coming on unusually fast, until June he had not shown any interest, then he watched an episode of alpherbloxs and was off. He's still animal obsessed, but now he sits with his toys trying to spell out the name of the different types of animal.

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ForeverBubblegum Wed 29-Jul-20 22:36:22

@Haworthia, it was you I mean to thank for mentioning hyperlexia. I'm using the app, and struggling to remember user names when I start typing.

Your son does sound very similar to mine, just a year or so older. I'd be very interested to hear how his transition into school goes, have you manage to get any support put in place for him starting reception?

I didn't get anywhere trying to contact DS's new nursery teacher through the school, but fortunately the manager of his old nursery (who put in the assessment referral) knows his new teacher, and volunteered to have a word, so at least they have prior warning. I'm sure it's bad for everyone but covid has really messed up the plans for a gentle transition with support from the off.

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Haworthia Thu 30-Jul-20 13:38:49

We have fairly minimal support in place for starting Reception. He has no ECHP but the SENCO applied for some SEN funding for children needing extra support for school transition and he was awarded the lowest band, which amounts to not even full mornings. Better than nothing I suppose. The SENCOs opinion was that we just need to wait and see how he goes. He might do great or he might do terrible, but until they know what his needs are they can’t put support in place.

Tricky situation really but it can’t be helped. In an ideal world I wouldn’t want him to flounder before the extra support is found, but I have to let that happen.

scrunchSE18 Fri 31-Jul-20 13:00:54

Regarding phonics and hyperlexics the school did pitch up a little but not enough. She’d sometimes just get out a book and start ready no rather than participating in the lesson. Her comprehension was Ok (apart from idioms naturally). She used to like watching films with the subtitles on and I don’t know if that helped?

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