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SEN - at what point do needs become special needs?

(12 Posts)
debs40 Sun 20-Sep-09 00:31:04

DS (6 and undergoing ASD assessment) has a variety of needs which affect him at school - predominantly the need for routine, consern about change of teachers etc, hypotonia/hypermobility, coordination and sensory issues.

The paediatricians have confirmed the hypotonia/hypermobility but we are still waiting for OT/SALT apps and a ASD assessment by the social communications group.

My question is , in the meantime, should DS be registered as having SEN? What do you need to show to fall into that category? He is doing fine academically and I think the school don't see the need or at least that is what I am assuming. Is there any benefit to me pushing for him to be recognised as having SEN and having an IEP?

I feel it is difficult because I raise things like the hypotonia/hypermobility and the way it will affect his writing but the answer is 'none of the children are very good at this age'. I feel this is not taking into account the additional problems he will have but I feel like I'm being a pushy moaney mother contacting the teachers all the time about a whole variety of issues.


debs40 Sun 20-Sep-09 00:32:00

should read 'concern about change of teachers'

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 20-Sep-09 09:12:02

Your DS has already been seen by professional people like a paed and you're awaiting OT, SALT and an ASD assessment. He should already be on the special needs register on a plan like School Action Plus as this would reflect such outside involvement.

He should also have an IEP as a matter of course; its bad that no-one has seemingly done one of these to date. You should also be helping in drawing up his IEP once a term.

You will need to be persistant with these bods and speak to the SENCO on a regular basis; you'll go around in circles otherwise. If you don't speak up for your son no-one else will. All your concerns are certainly valid ones. You are his best - and only - advocate.

Debs - I've likely said this to you before to youblush. Think carefully now about applying for a Statement for your DS. YOU make the application, not the school. At this stage applying when he's 6 is far easier than say when he's 10 in the juniors (a different ball game entirely) and still trying to cope with change of routine and teachers. The whole social side of school can be very hard. Its particularly important that he gets this type of additional help before he starts secondary school. Statements do not only just cover the academic side, they cover the social side of things as well; things like social communication issues etc.

bubblagirl Sun 20-Sep-09 09:21:27

i second what Attila has said while now he doesnt stand out so much as he gets older his differences will be more apparent and would be easier for that help to already be there to transition to new school to help him in class to keep him supported

PerryPlatypus Sun 20-Sep-09 09:38:16

I agree that it's better to act now than wait until it's a very obvious problem later on.

As they get further up the school they will be expected to not only write more but also to do so at a greater speed. It's taken several years of intervention for my 9yr-old to get to the point where he can write well enough to get his ideas down on paper. Even so, I've been told that if the dreaded SATS are still around when he goes into Yr6 he will qualify for extra time to complete the papers.

My ds is doing very well academically but still has an IEP. Even relatively simple things, like using a special cushion to prevent him sliding out of his chair or having a sloped board to write on, can make a big difference.

debs40 Sun 20-Sep-09 10:16:00

Thanks guys. I really appreciate it. I feel it is difficult because I'm running around pointing these things out and the response is sort of 'but he's doing fine' which makes me feel like I'm making a big issue about nothing.

Attila - I completely take your point on statementing but I really don't know where to start or what to do really. When you have no dx and a load of professionals who seem like very good teachers who seem to think there is no problem, although they have given him 3 hours TA, it is hard to start shouting 'he must be on the SEN list and get him statemented'. Especially when you don't understand the process yourself.

He has one very sensible class teacher and I think she will be my first port of call as I know she works on things like this with the SEN.

Remember what it's like pre-diagnosis when yoi're trying to explain all this to a world which is often wondering what the problem is until something goes wrong?

daisy5678 Sun 20-Sep-09 10:37:44

If he has a TA, he must already be on the SEN register and should have an IEP. I would push for an IEP and Annual Reviews as part of School Action Plus (which means that outside agencies are involved). However, I would imagine that an application for a Statement would be unsuccessful given that school aren't too concerned about his problems and say he's doing fine. It can be hard to get a Statement even when schools/ nurseries are supportive. I say this from experience: we were turned down twice for a Statement initially despite nursery saying he needed full time 1:1 support due to his violence, to protect his and other's safety.

Of course, you could apply yourself, but without the backing of the school, it will be very very difficult to get. Not saying this to be pessimistic, just realistic. A more purposeful goal would be to get a formalised SA+ system set up, giving him IEP goals (and making the school write down exactly what they're going to do to help him) and giving you access to Annual Reviews to monitor his progress and to monitor what they are doing.

debs40 Sun 20-Sep-09 11:02:49

Thanks givemesleep. I understand that statements are very hard to achieve and, as you say, without the assessment process having been concluded, the school can only go on what they see which is that he is coping ok academically. Also, without the input yet of OT and SALT, I wouldn't know what hsi needs were or how they were best met.

I think there is the capacity for dialogue with the school and I think they will help if they feel it is needed. We may just have different views about how much a formal plan is needed because, as his mum and knowing him well, I am sort of several steps ahead on understanding his needs.

I will talk to them about the best way forward and formalising support would seem to be a good start.

Another poster here told me that a TA could be assigned informally under 'provision mapping' and this would mean that he is not necessarily on the SEN register.

I understand from his teacher that it is a temporary informal arrangement so that seems to fit. I will ask for clarification.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 20-Sep-09 13:23:29

Hi Debs,

re your comment:-

"Attila - I completely take your point on statementing but I really don't know where to start or what to do really. When you have no dx and a load of professionals who seem like very good teachers who seem to think there is no problem, although they have given him 3 hours TA, it is hard to start shouting 'he must be on the SEN list and get him statemented'. Especially when you don't understand the process yourself"

This is also where such forums come in handy.
I can sympathise in that I never knew where to start or what to do either. MN wasn't up and running at the time. It was only a friend of mine who filled me in on Statementing and the process. And I have been turned down twice for a statement as well; they gave in eventually!.

Most teachers in my experience have a very poor understanding of SEN anyway let alone ASD. Its not a subject taught readily at teacher training college.

IPSEA are very good at this and their website is Even if you don't want to apply for a Statement as yet it provides infomration on how to tackle problems with school if and when they arise.

However, you can apply for a Statement without a diagnosis; these are not impossible to get even without one. It does not just cover the academic side; the social side is also covered under such things. Unlike other plans like School Action Plus (and your DS should already be on something like this given that there are outside agencies involved) a Statement is legally binding. The goalposts are too easily moved under other plans and funding gets cut quicker. If he has 3 hours of TA support a week it seems to me he is already under the SEN register in some form.

Annual reviews are not normally done with SA plus; they should be reviewed termly. In such meetings the school staff like the SENCO, his class teacher and you should be present.

Am glad to read that they say that he is doing fine at present. The thing is such things can change and quickly as well particularly when these children go into Junior School. You need to bear that in mind and preempt any potential problems beforehand. You need to be persistant and firm with these people, show them that you are on the ball and are not to be messed with!!!.

debs40 Sun 20-Sep-09 14:00:34

Thanks Attila this is really helpful. I agree it is about pre-empting things and understanding that things can change. I think that is what worries me really. That, and the fact that although he is 'coping', is he doing as well as he could without these problems?

I suppose there's something that feels odd about battling about these things and asking for your child to be given special treatment when they can't see any good reason for it.

I was told that the 3 hours was a temporary arrangement - I think to tide him over the change of class - but I will try and get an app with the more 'with it' class teacher and take it from there.

Thanks again.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 20-Sep-09 14:43:19

Hi Debs,

It looks like they found some funding from somewhere to give you DS the three hours. If he is not on some formal plan though he should be. You're doing all the right things and you're also thinking ahead which is very important too. Let us know how you get on.

My son is now in his last year of Junior school (shockeeek!); it has seemingly flown by really though it is four years after all. He has had a statement throughout his time there (we secured this for him in Y1); it has helped him a great deal. He will continue to have this in Secondary school too.

debs40 Sun 20-Sep-09 17:04:07

Thanks Attila, I appreciate the help. I will let you know how we go.

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