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mainstream or special school?(19 Posts)
ds due to start school next august, our area is more geared towards autism and learning difficulties and ed pshyc says has no schools that would suit his specific needs, pretty much non verbal, has a few words but not consistently, very bright, ed psych and nursery school reckon he's ahead for his age but completely physically disabled, quad dystonic cp with little or no hand function, he only really has facial expression and eye pointing, he cant use a switch but has been recommended for a ridiculously expensive eye tracker which seems to be taking ages to be approved, probably because its about £11,500.
we have identified a school outwith the area which is a total communication environment, all the kids have physical problems but use symbols and communication devices to access an expanded curriculum, they also have an ICT unit based at the school and full nursing, physio, OT, splint clinic etc so pretty much what i'm looking for...i think!
placing request meeting is in a few weeks, ed psych reckons they might want to put him in mainstream with support rather than go outwith the authority, not sure how i feel about this, i think hes bright enough to cope with mainstream with the right equipment in place but i think he would need to get his eyetracker soon to be up to speed with it by the time august comes. i always said i wanted him in mainstream but now i wonder if a class of 30 odd kids would just swallow him up IYKWIM?
im just rambling really i suppose i would just like other peoples opinions if anyone has had a similar decision to make? i've also posted on the sen board but wanted to see what you ladies thought too!
i see you are in Scotland so i will watch with interest. I have a legal background but no expertise in Education law. I am researching the position but I think I need to find a real expert. I have emailed a few contacts but I have not met anyone yet to discuss anything in detail.
Hi, My DS aged 3.5 is not completely physically disabled as he has spastic diplegia, and can talk although not walk at all or sit very well. After much thought and looking at countless schools we have decided to apply for a unit place where he can get the physio, SALT and OT weekly and they can actually teach him. I feel that in mainstream they would get so bogged down with all the physical difficulties that they wouldn't meet his educational requirements and like you we have no indication of any learning difficulties. Here places for the unit are decided at a panel, in March, so we have to put down a mainstream as well, but for various reasons I am fairly confident that he will get a place.
I would fight to get him into the school outside your local authority, but it will probably be a fight. In England anyway it is fairly common to go to school outside the LA but not something the LEA like to do!
Good luck with your decision, it's so hard!
visit all the mainstream schools that you suspect the lea may look at, and go with an open mind. (not sure if you have done this already). speak to the heads, and the senco.
have you also visited the school of your choice?
you need to make sure you do all this and have thought really hard about why you believe one environment is best, and more importantly, why the others would be inappropriate.
really really really important to be able to discuss openly with first hand information, rather than what you have seen on a prospectus or heard second/ third hand. also really important to be able to express an opinion on what the lea are saying, if you haven't visited and quizzed the heads then you will have to take what the lea say at face value. it will also give you an idea of what you will be up against having asked the heads whether they have dealt with any similar children or whether they believe it would be an appropriate environment etc etc. you can then choose your battles...
Thanks! I have visited the school i would like him to go to and have very clear ideas as to why its the most appropriate, incidently the Ed Psych does agree with me on this but ultimately the decision wont be his.
I have also visited the local special school which is the "best" in the area according to the local authority and also have very clear opinions as to why it is definately not suitable!
The only thing i havent done so far is visit any mainstream schools as we only moved house a few months ago and im not entirely sure where he would go, there are a few local primarys but one slighty further away which is brand new and built all on the one level so this one might be more likely, i will need to wait to see which one they recommend first probably.
I think he would be fine in mainstream with the eye tracker but that could take a while yet.
Sometimes taking a trusted professional with you to schools and visiting more than once can help. It is such a big decision and it really pays to do lots of homework now.
It could be a real struggle to get the school outside the authority so be prepared.
Hi Glittery, as you know dd is as disabled as your lad - dystonic quad CP, no hand function, no speech. dd can't eyepoint though as she has little eye control.
She's in mainstream with full support, started 3 weeks ago. She loves it and the hustle and bustle is better for her learning and stimulation that the SN school which was like a morgue. Children strapped into chairs waiting for adults to do something. In mainstream dd gets to hear children asking questions that 4 yo's ask and I figured that would be great for her.
this mainstream has a full resource base for physically disabled children and full OT/SALT/physio support.
She's not got her communication aid yet as she will need an auditory tracker but she's too young really to understand it. And she has a one to one TA at all times who is trained as a visual impairment teacher (dd is partially sighted too)
thanks Riven! C is an excellent comparison and its good to know that she's enjoying mainstream too!
i suppose the reason im drawn to the special school is that it has the full support onsite whereas the mainstreams here just seem to have visiting physios, OT's etc and ds would need to be pulled out of class to be seen and might feel "different" whereas at the special school its incorporated into part of their day as they are all in the same boat IYCWIM.
Also the special school has a regular hospital consultant clinic and splint clinic etc so pretty much all his needs could be met by that school, if he goes mainstream i will have to take him out of school for hospital appointments etc and i suppose the other big reason is i wanted to go back to work once he starts school which would obviously be easier if all his appts were at school....although thats a purely selfish reason of course!
I don't think many SN schools cater academically enough. The one dd was at certainly didn't at it pissed me off. All these bright kids being let down.
She actually got less one to one as well. In mainstream she has her own TA, in SN school is was shared.
And finally, i don't like segregation.
but yes, we have to miss school for hospital appointments, splints etc but to be honest I'd rather be there to question the docs anyhow.
Thats exactly why im considering this special school, it has great results and is one of two schools in Glasgow which caters specifically for children with PD and very little or no LD, whereas the ones in my area have mostly children with LD. There is also similar PD secondary provision in Glasgow.
According to the Ed Psych, in the past children with purely PD were always placed outwith the authoritity and likewise kids with LD from Glasgow came to our area, but then boundaries and rules changed and our area has still to catch up with decent provision for kids like ds.
go check them all out but make sure there are some 'talkers'. I really think hearing other kids speak and asking the sort of questions kids ask is hugely beneficial.
Possibly, at the start when we noticed changes, our paed did say that ds would need to learn to use his hands now that they worked IYKWIM
Are they going to keep upping the dose if all is well?
On 250mg we get handshakes and high fives, he'll lift his arms up out the way on command when i'm trying to put the tray on his chair and his waving is coming on superbly. it can still take him a minute or so at times but when we're leaving somewhere/someone he now spontaneously lifts his arm, opens his hand and moves it side too side. most people would think this isnt that fabulous but i know you'll know where i'm coming from
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