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Here are some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on SN.

Help eliminate some more of my ignorance :)

(19 Posts)
LollipopViolet Thu 04-Sep-08 08:48:15

I mean that in a good way. In my first topic on this board you lovely ladies told me to ask my friend about things I'm not sure of. Well, I'm asking you lot, because it's a very general thing. Well, two things.

1. What do escorts do? On my last bus to college, there was one with us, but she just seemed to chat to us, make us all laugh. What do they officially do?

2. What are special schools like? I'm really curious and have asked my friend a little about them, but I'm still quite confused. How do they teach etc basically everything that's different between m/s. I was m/s educated and hated every minute of it, bullied, staff not knowing what they were doing, the lot. So what's it like?

Hope you don't mind me asking but it's the only way I'll learn.

hecate Thu 04-Sep-08 09:08:08

1 - escorts escort. They go with the child in the taxi/on the bus to make sure the child is safe/happy/acts appropriately/whatever. It is to meet the needs of the child and get them into school ok. She may have laughed and chatted, but if the child she was escorting needed anything, she was there! (that is 1:1 escort btw! If there's like a group escort I assume that's the same thing - be there to make sure everyone gets on and off ok and in case there's a problem.)

2 - special schools - can't help you with that, my 2 (autistic) are in mainstream (happily) with full time 1:1. We looked at sn schools but didn't like the idea, that was our personal choice. For others, they are a godsend and the only way their kids are happy or learn.

magso Thu 04-Sep-08 09:59:04

Special schools I think are schools for children whose needs cannot properly be met in ms. There are different types of special schools for different needs.
I can only tell you about the special school my son goes to. It was originally an MLD school ie for those with moderate learning disability, but most of the children there have severe learning disability and /or ASD, and many have physical disabilities or complex medical needs in addition, so it has specialised teaching methods for children who learn at that level. It also has smaller classes, lots of extra support (such as visual timetables, reward charts, specialised equipment that ms schools dont always find time for. The building is very secure - a bit like a nursery but for larger children) as the children are generally at a less advanced level in self care and need nuturing care and life skills learning as well as specialised teaching. Most children need outside therapist such as SLT and OT and these visit the school - so all the staff know how to include these needs in (and out) of class. The teachers are very skilled at getting less able children to acheive and feel confident. HTH

MannyMoeAndJack Thu 04-Sep-08 10:17:01

My ds's escort walks him to the taxi and straps him in. She then repeats this process for the other two SN kids who share my ds's taxi. She then keeps the kids happy in the car and makes sure they don't pull any tricks (this comment is aimed squarely at my ds - the other two kids are 'harmless', whereas my ds has been known to toss his shoes about the taxi, kick the chair/windows, etc!). At school, she escorts all three kids and assorted baggage into the school and from there into their respective classrooms. Similar process ensues at the end of the school day but in reverse. She is fantastic!!!

My ds's SN is, in the words of the deputy head, 'all about therapy'. Many of the kids who attend this school will never learn how to read or write because they are too severely disabled (my ds amongst them) so the curriculum is 'highly differentiated' which means that they follow the national curriculum only very loosely. My ds receives O.T. and SALT input plus lots of 1-1 in the sensory room and weekly hydro sessions. He does PECS activities in class and is expected to join in with group activities in his class of 6 kids and 4 staff!!!

jimjamshaslefttheyurt Thu 04-Sep-08 12:10:16

Special schools vary hugely. DS2 goes to an SLD/PMLD school. Some of the children are very disabled, will never sit, need tube feeding and have a curriculum based around therapy and sensory exoperiences.

DS1's class is very active. They go out at least once a week, also do swimming, cooking, other life skills. They have circle times when they use a big whiteboard. Staff ratio is very high (1:2 or 1:3). They have lessons in soft play (they might have to follow an instruction sheet to build a tower of certain shapes for example). Lots of sensory work (sand and splash- might combine with a maths lesson in there). Hydro pools. Access to music therpay, donkey riding, SALT. They might be given jobs (ds1's for a while was to go to the offic, collect the register and bring it back- sounds not much- but he could never be taught it in mainstream as the shcool was too open- the locked doors of his school allows him some freedom). It sounds very similar to Manny's school. PECS and sign is incorporated into the day all day every day.

He was in mainstream for 4 terms and it was a disaster- curriculum completely wrong, everything about the idea ludicrous.

LollipopViolet Thu 04-Sep-08 12:33:49

Wow. Thank you so much everyone. There is going to be an opportunity for me to do some volunteering at uni, I may see if I can help in any of the schools locally. I've wanted to volunteer for a while and if I can help children get the most out of their lives I'd love to.

My school had an average class size of 30, I had little help, and even then I had to ask, they'd forget everything they were told about writing in certain colours, writing clearly, making sure the sun wasn't too dazzling etc. College was better but still had problems so I'm determined that university will be sorted ASAP.

MannyMoeAndJack Thu 04-Sep-08 13:04:59

I think mainstream school can work for some SN kids but only if the teachers are fully aware of the needs, abilities and difficulties of such kids. With classes of 30 kids or more and dwindling budgets, I'm eternally grateful my ds is in no way a 'border line' case whereby the LA would attempt to shoehorn him into a mainstream school. He is a very clear cut case. It must be tough if you have a kid who is bright enough to attend a mainstream school but who suffers socially and lacks the right support.

jimjamshaslefttheyurt Thu 04-Sep-08 15:14:07

I think you need to be careful even if your child isn't borderline. DS1 aged 5 was completely non-verbal (as he still is) and in nappies and we were still told he had to go to ms. Now I'd tell them not to be so daft, but then I didn't really understand the issues.

MannyMoeAndJack Thu 04-Sep-08 15:31:49

I would've laughed like a drain had the LA forced my ds to attend a mainstream school. Oh, what fun they would've had trying to get him to sit, stop tapping, stop licking, running riot, throwing chairs, escaping through fire doors and so on. It would've been a circus. Fortunately, the LA's' Ed Psych, who first met my ds at nursery, could see what she was dealing with and didn't even hint at or mention a mainstream school once. She asked me what I thought, so I said I didn't think ds could go to a mainstream school and she agreed immediately with no argument! Pretty clear cut case!

jimjamshaslefttheyurt Thu 04-Sep-08 15:36:19

A circus pretty much sums up what went on.

magso Thu 04-Sep-08 16:06:11

Ah yes circus - thats roughly what happened when ds started MS - especially the escaping and licking! He had a penchant for building 'nests' in the play ground too and the other kids sweetly helped by collecting leaves (and annoyng their Mums getting dirty)for his nests! He led a raiding party on the caretakers (out-of-bounds a concept well beyond him))cockeral and got them all excluded. He was very quickly sent home every lunch time (after throwing a fork -I had told them he needed support at lunch time and could not self feed efficiently)- which gave me a chance to feed and change/toilet him.
We discovered there is an unwritten policy of educating all children at MS in our county! The trouble is there is no where near enough support for this policy to be even partly realistic!

MannyMoeAndJack Thu 04-Sep-08 16:57:15

JJ, I'm intrigued as to why your ds spent 4 terms in a mainstream school when it must've been clear that your ds was not coping. Did you want him to try out a mainstream initially or did you feel forced to send him to a mainstream school by the LA? Or did you know that the school would eventually realise that it was not meeting your ds's needs? Or was the school actually pretty keen to meet your ds's needs?

I had to submit a form for my ds to attend a mainstream as part of the standard procedure (even though I knew it was a complete waste of time). I hand delivered this form to the local mainstream school and gave it to the first teacher I saw (the deputy as it turned out). I hinted that my ds would in all likelihood not be coming to his school and in return, I received a most astounding sales pitch!! 'oh, we take all kinds of children' and 'has your ds's pre-school told you about some of the children we've taken in the past', etc. I took a quick look around the hallway (where we were standing) and all I could see in my mind's eye was havoc wreaked everywhere, with my ds in the starring role!

jimjamshaslefttheyurt Thu 04-Sep-08 17:34:38

He went part time for 3 terms (2 hours a day twice a week initially) and spent more hours in part time (very good) mainstream nursery, where there were trained staff and people who actually knew what things like PECS were. I assumed school would get the training but they didn't.

It became clear during his first full time term (first term in year 1) that they didn't have a clue what they were doing and were not keen to learn, so I asked if we could look at special schools, the ed psych agreed and 6 weeks later he was in special.

I asked to look at special schools when he was 4 before he started school but the ed psych wouldn't let us. He attended a very good mainstream nursery, who were very switched on wrt autism and stupidly I assumed that school would be the same so didn't push it.

MannyMoeAndJack Thu 04-Sep-08 17:53:21

I think my ds may be different from yours in that he is extremely hyper! He meets (exceeds!) the formal criteria for ADHD (a clinical psych assessed him via the Conners' forms that both school and ourselves completed) but she didn't dx him with ADHD because we made it clear we didn't want to put him on ritalin (or equivalent). Rather odd but the point is that my ds is manic and has energy by the buckletload and cannot remain still for longer than about 10 seconds. Together with his other difficulties, he would've been a challenge too far for the vast moajority of mainstream schools!

jimjamshaslefttheyurt Thu 04-Sep-08 18:14:35

ds1 was passive at 4, but isn't anymore. He switched as he started school- which was problematic.

LollipopViolet Thu 04-Sep-08 19:21:35

Wow, I can relate to people not knowing anything about what they're dealing with. The number of times in college, when we'd watch films for Media Studies, and they'd turn off the lights and tell us to take notes....er, it's dark!

So what are sensory rooms? If they're what I think they are, all soft music and lava lamps etc, then I want one to relax in! Actually if anyone could help me out, I could do with some advice. I do a lot of....odd things, and I keep thinking they might be something that hasn't been picked up, but I'm not sure. If anyone wants to give an opinon let me know and I'll start a new topic.

jimjamshaslefttheyurt Thu 04-Sep-08 19:24:25

There are different sorts of sesnory rooms. DS1's school has a white room, a dark room and a sensory environment in the hydro pool. They can be used in many different ways depending on the needs of the child.

bullet123 Thu 04-Sep-08 19:44:25

Ds1 goes to a special school that is absolutely fantastic for him. He's been there since he was 3, in the nursery and then the reception and started in Year One today.

MannyMoeAndJack Thu 04-Sep-08 20:09:17

Sensory rooms are fantastic! They are generally equipped with:

- a perspex, cylindrical tube that contains bubbles and lights that change colour at the press of a button. The bubbles float about - like the lava lamp you describe

- soft pads on the walls that are either shapes, animals or other objects such that when the user presses against the pad, it makes an appropriate noise or plays music

- a water bed

- lighting that can be set to the user's requirements, so anything from dimmed to disco!

- soft play equipment

- a swing/hammock

I imagine that there are many other items that can be found inside such rooms too but the above are commonly found in school sensory rooms.

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