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intergration of children with Down's Syndrome in mainstream schools

(42 Posts)
wildone Wed 12-Jan-05 18:30:39

interested to know of any good or bad experiences. have two children with DS. older child started at mainstream but disastrous. Very unhappy there. Second straight to fab Special school. Wonder how many others opted for mainstream and did not turn out well contrary to popular belief that integration is way forward.

Dingle Wed 12-Jan-05 19:43:27

wildone, I cannot give you any info about our experiences as we are not that far down the line YET!
My dd, was 3 in October and is going to mixture of SN nursery and mainstream. This week she was due to do her first full week in total, 3 sessions at mainstream which is (I believe at this moment in time) the direction we are aiming for.
Mixed emotions ATM, re statementing, or lack of it in dd's case, additional help in the nursery..etc..
Are you new here? How are are your children?

onlyjoking Wed 12-Jan-05 20:48:11

Welcome wildone, my kids have autism two in sn school and one in mainstream, my son in mainstream is 7 but he will move to sn but dunno when that will be, he is doing ok at the moment but when the gulf with his peers gets too wide or he is not happy then he will move, i have a mate with twin girls with downs one is at mainstream one in sn,mainly due to mobility/medical probs she is due to move them both to a different sn school in sept, how old are your two and what are your feelings re sn and mainstream, are you thinking about a move?

happymerryberries Wed 12-Jan-05 21:07:26

I teach in a secondary school and we have a boy with down's syndrome in the lower school. He is doing very well, he has 1 to 1 in lessons at all time, has a network of peer buddies as well as sixth form mentors. He is integrated in his form group for most lessons but is withdrawn for 1 to 1 english and maths and does more language work when the rest ofhis class do MFL. He seems to be very happy.

Jimjams Thu 13-Jan-05 09:41:26

I think it depends on the individual child and how much mainstream they can access. My autistic son spent 4 terms in mainstream and has just moved to an SLD school. It is so much better for him- the big difference being that he is included in everything. In mainstream he was contained, but really couldn't take part in anything- for example he didn't take part in the nativity play, he didn't do tree planting with his class, he didn't do the same work as the rest of his class. He's been at special school for a week and has taken part in everything, and gets access to things like hydrotherapy (which he loved) and lots of sensory activities.

If a child can access more of the the national curriculum/extra curricular activities then maybe mainstream is right for them. If however they can't then I don't really see the point of it. As they're not being included anyway!

FineFigureFio Thu 13-Jan-05 09:45:46

my friends son has DS and he goes to special school with a mainstream outreach place, which is ideal for him. he would struggle alot if he was in mainstream ALL the time.

HTH but I tend to agree with jimjams that is down to the induvidual child. My daughter was pinpointed for full time mainstream but we fought to get her into a special school and are considering outreach atm, i feel this will be better for our daughter

Tommy Thu 13-Jan-05 09:58:18

When I was teaching in secondary school we had a girl with DS in Yr7. She had a one to one support all the time and was certainly doing well when I left! It was a very small school though (2-3 form entry) and everyone knew her which may have made a difference.

RTKangaMummy Thu 13-Jan-05 10:25:38

Hiya wildone

Thought this would be interesting thread for you to read then saw it was yours

welcome to mumsnet you will get addicted you know, I did warn you didn't I?

anyway will let the others in SN help you out.

c u tomorrow

ThomCat Thu 13-Jan-05 10:41:12

hi Wildone and welcome. My 3 yr old daughter has DS and attends a mainstream nursery where she is doing really well. The teachers tell me that in some areas she is doing better than her NT peers, others of course she isn't. We intend to send to her to a mainstream school but they happen to be the leader in their field for SN inclusion and other schoolsoften pay them visits to learn from them so we feel esp. confident. However at the time of studying for GSCE's we may well decifde to send her to a more specialised school, we'll cross that bridge later.

it all very much depends on the child, the school AND what fels right in your heart.

look forward to chatting to you more and learning more about you and your children. how old are they and are they boys and/or girls?

sinclair Thu 13-Jan-05 12:09:24

Hello there Wildone and welcome to MN and SN. My DD with DS is in her second term at mainstream primary. She has band 2 on the statement which means she is supported 65% of the time, but school is trying to get that increased as what happens in practice is that the LSA is spending all her break times making up the personalised materials that allow DD to access the curriculum. We are lucky in that it is the local school, small and freindly, and that they have some experience of statements and SN, tho no-one previously with DS. In short it feels like they want it to work as much as we do. I know of other families in similar circs who are having a much less successful experience. So it depends on the child, of course, but also on the school. Having said all of that, if as time goes on it becomes apparent that DD would benefit from a the focus and facilities that a special school can provide we wouldn't hesitate to move.

Dingle Thu 13-Jan-05 13:19:59

Sorry to hijack, Wildone, but it is all relevant stuss regarding making choice and integration.

I have been trying to get the support of a home visiting teacher for some time now, I felt that some advice should have been given when making choices for pre-school/nursery placements but that help was not given. Stii chasing some help as I feel that dd has outgrown her portage sessions and they happen so infrequently now, it hardly seems worth it.
Anyway, chase up Home visiting teacher service MOnday, and had a call back from the Early Years Team. Apparently as long as we intend to send dd to a mainstream school, my LEA do NOT statement. They will only go through the statementing proceedure if I intend to send her to a special needs school.
Has anyone heard of this, is this acceptable!
DD is now doing 3 morning at mainstream nursery, and although I have not yet had a meeting to confirm this, she will (I believe) only be getting and hour & half help for 2 sessions, the other sessions she will just be 1 out of 28 with only 2 staff!!!why is the system so crap!

Would love to know other experiences and advice, surely if the get it right now the integration into schooling at 5 will be that much easier!

Jimjams Thu 13-Jan-05 13:28:52

That's bollox dingle. IME the statement is even more necessary in mainstream than in special (as the special schools know what they're doing!) . You can request a statement yourself- have a look at the IPSEA website- they have example letters you can use. I would say that it is essential that a child with DS has a statement wherever they are- their needs are too different from their NT peers to be met adequately without a statement.

Dingle Thu 13-Jan-05 13:38:54

Thanks JJ! How are you? whisper,,,whisper,,more hijacking!

lowcalCOD Thu 13-Jan-05 13:40:15

I wonder how integrates some kids really are - they may be int he same room but from my experience those with one to one support are often stillmreo isolated than in special schools

mizmiz Thu 13-Jan-05 13:44:48

Really interesting thread...
At the start of my career as a salt, I thought that special schools had no place in today's society. However, I have copletely changed my opinion.

Integration into mainstream schools sounds great on paper, but the reality is often that the child's abilities are so at odds with the work that is being done, that no real education is going on (coupled with the fact that many people lack the intelligence/imagination to modify the curriculum for the child's needs. Eg Geography doesn't have to be about where the capital of Spain is. It could mean remembering where to put your coat, or navigating your way successfully to your seat in the dining room.)
So, you get a bored,alienated child who is overly reliant on an assistant and often with no real friends.

By contrast, a good school for kids with s/n will have specially trained teachers (not always unfortunately!) an emphasis on useful practical skills,easier access to stuff like salt and physio, music therapy etc.
Kids are generally more confident and mutually supportive. They know how difficult some things are and the sense of camaraderie and friendship when for example it is announced at assembly that someone has won a badge for swimming or completed a work placement, is brilliant!
(I mentioned on another thread my line manager's wish to do some research into the mental health of kids with s/n in specail and mainstream schools respectively.)

However....as always, a lot depends on the child and the school. I've seen some kids thrive in mainstream schools, but for most that I have seen anyway, at secondary level it can become stressful and isolating-the very opposite of what is trying to be achieved.

Also, people with DS vary so much. I have worked with some who have additional health problems, some with quite severe ld and then again others who lead pretty normal lives, have b/g friends, and hold down jobs. I know (don't work with-she doesn't need me!) one young woman who reads and writes better than a great many people, can hold a complex conversation and is at present trying to sort out her mum and dad who are not getting on very well at all!!!

PS Attempts are being made to shut down many special school-a very bad move IMO.

PPS Someone mentioned not being statemented if in mainstream schooling. Completely bizarre...we have loads of statemented kids in mainstream schools. Sounds illegal to me...basically saying to parents that if they want m/s schooling, the child is on their own...outrageous!

ThomCat Thu 13-Jan-05 13:45:47

Children with DS wouldn't always need THAT much one to one Cod so would be mixing and playing with their NT a lot as well.

Piffle Thu 13-Jan-05 13:48:44

I remember as 5 yr old our small local school has several downs children in it as one of the local families adopted 3 downs babies as well as having there own 4 children.
It really helped to teach me tolerance and respect about disability, although there were several "incidents" and so forth where one would probably assess that it wasn't great for the children, the teachers or the rest of the class.But this was before todays PC and more observant society.
But the children were always out playing with local kids we all watched out for them and they had (IMHO) a really super childhood, one of the children a boy went on to college after secondary school as well.
Just what I recall BTW not a yes or no as I am not knowledgeable enough to comment!!!

Piffle Thu 13-Jan-05 13:49:23

their own I meant !

Dingle Thu 13-Jan-05 13:51:17

From my very little experience, I couldn't agree more, I think that's up to the individual LSAs. When I did my first nursey visit with dd, she was quite happily playing with the toys, the computer,,,ETC, I tried to take a back seat and IMP I was only there as an observer. They didn't have any additional help involved and I came away in tears, thinking how lonely she seemed. She was so alone and without any support, how could she be encouraged to get the social interraction. Unless that happens she would be better off in a SN setting and I will try to give her the social interraction outside her schooling!!

Sorry to ramble, feeling rather frustrated, alone and p*ssed off with the lack of advice and support locally!

Davros Thu 13-Jan-05 14:43:37

Totally agree Cod, just being in a particular place does not mean you are inluded. Good support workers should stand back as much as possible anyway and keep their involvement/prompting to a minimum - in theory! but many kids need a lot of practical support. I have known MANY kids with autism at m/s school (with statements!) and it always seems to be a struggle for the parents to keep things working, sometimes a struggle for the child but NONE I know, at any level of functioning, can manage m/s secondary school so that is another timebomb waiting to explode

wildone Thu 13-Jan-05 19:28:02

Thrilled with replies. only been signed up 24hours! Have two adopted children with ds. posted msge cos so frustrated by my friend whose daughter, same age as mine, 6, attends mainstream sch. Am fed up with hearing how wonderful it all is! i agree that a lot depends on the sch the child etc. but pissed off with the current emphasis. Adam is 12 and now attends secondary sch for mld. He is in rugby team, footballteam and his self esteem is v. high. Know that he wouldn't have chanceof any of those things in ms. His experience of ms was good for everyone else in the sch and prob valuable therefore but academically no good for him. sophie is six and going at a slow pace but happy and thriving. Many friends with others with mld/sld and I feel that ok. I suppose what i really want to say is that it is ok to swim against the current trend and do whatever is best for your child. (wink)

happymerryberries Thu 13-Jan-05 19:34:01

Agree with what everyone has posted in that you have to decide on what is best for each individual child, based on their strengths and weaker points, and what the mainstream school is like. The boy I mentioned is doing very well, a few years ago another boy with ds didn't do so well and ended up in a special school where he thrived.

wildone Thu 13-Jan-05 19:42:24

So much to reply to not enough time. Thanks every one. was feeling particularly vulnerable cos even tho you believe you have made the right decisions for your chid there is always a little voice saying, yes but, and so do you ever quite know? my 29 year old daughter who is obviously more confident than me, hates it when I constantly try and justify my choices! So-o difficult to make choices. i warn you girls gets harder with age. I'm 52. x x

Dingle Thu 13-Jan-05 20:08:44

A big welcome to you Wildone, I hope we will be chatting a lot, I have so much to learn. And unfortunately it seems that no -one else in Kent has a 3 yr old with DS, at least that's the impression you get from the Health/education Authorities!
Some people worry about coping with a child who has DS, but it's not the actual child- dd is bright, bubbly, fun, loving and absolutely adorable. But unfortunately the system is enough alone to put a lot of people off.
Fighting head back on, round 2 coming up!

Hope to chat soon, luv Dingle.

Christie Thu 13-Jan-05 20:14:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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