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Very worried.(16 Posts)
I have just had Ds1's parents evening and one of my fears about him is happening. I know this will sound as though I am putting him down, not doing the right thing by him, but I know him and I am now very worried for his future.
They talked about his reports, he is getting, on average, level P6 of the Pscales. The Pscales are for those children who are not yet working towards level one of the National Curriculum. The Pscales go up to level 8 and they think he will reach P7 by this time next year. However, his language issues and his autism mean that in some areas, like maths, he gets a lower score as he doesn't understand how to explain something or that he should be doing something specific and not just what he thinks is relevant.
Children at his school academically achieve about levels P4 to P6.
You can see where this is heading, can't you?
Yep, they think he is doing so well academically and socially that he is nearly ready to manage in mainstream and perhaps next year supports can be put in place.
So why am I panicked? Why aren't I jumping up and down for him?
Because of the following:
1: He has severe language and communication and understanding difficulties. Those of you who have seen what I've written about how he talks and compare it to the more easy flowing, structured and putting things into context way a typical six year old will understand what I mean. When I read of other 6 year olds on this site being able to discuss their fears, their likes and dislikes, their opinions, well, just to generally chat at a simple level and Ds1 is nowhere near that level I worry. He still has a high degree of echolalia. Despite weeks of planning with lots of visual supports he is unable to understand what he is learning and why, with such things as weddings, a sports week, a science project on a jungle. Ok, so some of it could be down to his inability to maintain a conversation and his desire to only talk about what interests him a lot of the time, but it impacts significantly on his work. I was looking at his school work and he wrote about a bouncy castle that apparently I'd bought for him and put up in his garden. That never happened. It referred to a bouncy castle he went on after attending a christening about 40 minutes drive away. He had no clue what a christening was, why it was seen to be important. Now, I know that plenty of 6 year olds like to make up stories but with Ds1 it is not like that. He will have said something along the lines of "I go on the bouncy castle in the garden", they will have presumed what he meant, will have instructed him what to write and he will have done so. He does not have the ability to say, at any time, no, this is wrong, this is what happened.
2: They say he is increasingly social. I have no doubt he is. Those on here who have met him will testify to what a gregarious lad he is. But he still needs a hell of a lot help. When a girl in his class said "hello" to him out of school hours he did not understand to say "hello" back. When his 4.5 year old friend asks him a question he can't reply to he will either just repeat back, say "yes" even to open questions or ignore him. He needs a lot of support and understanding to participate in talking to his peers. Ironically as he gets older children will become less understanding. He will be seen as increasingly babyish, as someone whose special needs stands more out. In the school he's in his behaviour, his language is typical. In a mainstream setting it will be painfully different.
At an age when the majority of 6 year olds are aware that they are "big children" (well, in their eyes) and not babies, Ds1 loves "In the Night Garden" and "Teletubbies". He struggles with the plot of Spot the Dog. He has no understanding whatsoever of abstract issues. He has never told me about a dream, or that he is bored, or asked about somebody in anything other than concrete terms. He still does not know his address or his phone number.
But when they are able to score how he's doing academically he's at level P6. This is because at his school they have a hell of a lot of visual supports, an awful lot of structure. I have seen him next to a typical 6 year old and the difference is striking. In a mainstream environment, without this structure, without his very high level of visual supports and without somebody with him to help him not only in the classroom but also in the playground he will struggle a lot. As the lessons move on from practical and concrete to asking the children to explain why about things, to offer forth their opinions on things, as playground chat starts to discuss how the children feel about various things and why (whether it's talking about a programme or game or about whether they like a teacher or not) he will flounder. My bright, clever lad will not cope. I am not saying that out of a misguided desire to hold him back, I am being realistic.
So he is caught between two worlds. His fantastic memory and his visual skills means he copes in the right environment. They say they would never put him in mainstream without our permission but I know they will start to push for it now. As far as I know there are no autism specialist schools nearby. Well, there is one, which is closing. DH does not want us to home educate and I can guarantee even if he did the LEA would be awkward about it.
I don't know what to do. How can I get through to them that him placidly repeating things and writing things down does not mean he understands everything? That him being able to giggle with another child does not mean he can understand or be able to have a conversation with that child? That until he can tell us things properly, understand without things being explained in a set way or by relying on his rote memory or visual prompts that the difference between him and a typical 6 year old is too strong for him not to stand out.
I don't want inclusion for inclusion's sakes. I don't want him put into mainstream and watch him consistently be at the bottom of his class, either helped or harrassed but not seen as the same as others. If there was a school for HFA I'd look into moving him to that. But I don't think there is and I am scared for how he'll cope.
bullet, <<hug>> I can offer no help, as DD is only 3.6 and starts reception next year, but I fear the same for her. I hope someone a bit further on can help you x
I've just looked at the National Curriculum Key Stage One level one and level two criteria for the subjects. There is absolutely no way he could cope with it. Why the hell are they pushing him to it?
Stand your ground then bullet. If you don't think he would cope, then tell them.
Is he in Year 1 at the moment?
Just finishing it, yes. So moves into Year Two in September.
I've written a polite letter explaining things. In it I've stated that whilst I have no desire to hold him back, neither do I wish him placed into a setting where he will be judged and assessed towards a level he has no hope of reaching yet.
I teach a child who has behavioural and learning issues, and his levels are between P5 - P8. We are trying to get a special school place for him.
Really feel for you; this is such a difficult decision to have to make. If you feel he would be happier and make more progress where he is then stick to your guns.
If you ever had second thoughts yourself, it migh be worth visiting the local schools to see if any of them would have a potential peer group of children who worked at a similar level, or have good support systems already in place.
Ultimately, it seems better to be fighting to keep him in a school where he is happy than fighting to get him out of a school where he is not coping. do the teachers have a particular school in mind where they think he would make more progress?
Sorry I don't have any useful advice as DS still at nursery stage.
No, they won't look until next year. I have never had any doubts that he is in the right environment now. And the thing is, is they can say they have the supports in place, he's not going to be able to tell me differently is he?
Stick to your guns..
in my experience..both as a parent of a child with mod/severe learning diffs and ASD..the gap only widens..and widesn MOST abt about yr2-3 when the children start to really work independently.. learn topics, write stories by themselves...
P6-7 IS not bad ...it's wonderful he is making such progress, but that alone isn't enough to ensure his survival at mainstream.
I was in a similar position years ago when my son (DS2) was 5.. he'd been in special school nirsery but could now talk etc and everyone wondered if a fully supported placement in mainstream might work. I had my doubts.. and he did stay in special school..
He's now 12 and I'm so glad I kept him there. he is a relatively able pupil in his small class of 9 kids with a teacher and 2 TAs. He is learning.. he can read and do simple sums! But he's only on level 2 for his highest ability (reading) everything else is still P levels.. and he's been there forever... and at 12 I wouldn't have wanted him in mainstream with the levels p8 - NC1 let alone the social side...
He's happy... confident.. progressing... and in special school.
FIGHT for what you feel is best!!
You're right Macforme, he is doing well. I just want him to continue to do well and to be happy.
Stand your ground...
If you feel he will sink to the bottom in a ms school then let them know of your point.
Take all the things we have written in your post and put it out to them.
You know your ds best.
Hi Bullet, go with your instinct, if you beieve he as at the best school for him stick with it, if he is doing well what you ahve in place is obviously working.
DS2 is 6 so just coming to the nd of yr one too, he is in ms school with 1 to1 support & I believe at the moment that it is the right school for him but I can't imagine him coping with for example a ms secondary & I do have similar worries to you, he is already obviously differnt to his peers.
Stand your ground
Just hecause a child can cope whilst in an SNU doesn't mean he will in MS< very different place indeed.
If that school is operating below his needs, look for a different placement instead. DS3's SNU is referred to as an LRC and takes children of all academic abilities- there is one child who consistently achieves 98th centile. They do all however have SN and need a placement.
maybe askt he LEA if they have a similar provision? DS3 accesses MS for PE, outdoor classroom and from next year maths. But when he was in MS it went badly wrong, and even in SNU at otehr times (eg circle time) he needs a 1-1.
Well I feel a bit better now. Reassuring note from class teacher saying they'd only consider it if he progressed at the rate he's doing and that they wouldn't push for it if we didn't want it. If his understanding improves then I'd feel happier about mainstream, but not as things stand.
I'm glad the school has reassured you Bullet.
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