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DS (5) been given his cards after a year at MS.....(141 Posts)
And we had such high hopes.
Obviously its been done in a roundabout way ("we think it is for the best") and diplomatically ("its ultimately your decision") but really, the message couldn't be clearer. Wondering (if this is not a stupid question) whether to offer some modifications to his current arrangement (not that school have) or whether to just accept what they say and go.
Really hard to know too if this is reasonable/unreasonable on their part and whether we should have anticipated it all along.
In short he is non verbal (severe speech dyspraxia) and has never really been able to use another form of communication fluently. He is very intelligent (at home) but doesn't show this at school. He tends to run off and put things in his mouth. He is toilet trained but unreliable. He tunes them out if he isn't interested (which he isn't, to be fair a lot of the time) and they can't tap into him.
On the plus side, he is lovely, sociable (they admit his social skills have really come on), he does not have any behavioural issues.
They say they have never seen another child like him (no experience with non verbal kids or other forms of communication), need too much external help (from SALT - he has a one to one but they need more handholding than the usual once a month visit), don't know what to do with him when he doesn't engage. They say they think the busy class of 30 distracts him and TBF to them he doesn't perform as they want him to when they take him into a quiet environment either.
My half way house suggestions are a more experienced one to one (less reliance on external SALT) or a spit placement with a SS (if that is even possible).
Probably a "how long is a piece of string" question but how much experience of kids like DS is it fair to expect a MS primary to have? Should they baulk at external help (paid for by us I would add) or is significant external help OK if its for a child with speech issues but not a non verbal child?
Or am I really wasting my time asking those questions (or trying to find a hybrid) and should I just get him out?
I didn't add (which is important I think) that he is happy there.
You can ask for an early annual review, or if you think the placement is failing, ask for a reassessment of needs.
Ellie56 advice is always sound!
Out of interest is there an alternative to the mainstream? Its just special schools are all very different and your son could be perfect for one and come on leaps and bounds with an onsite salt doing daily group lessons, small classes or it could be a bad fit as its geared up for totally different children. Its very personal.
Dual placements are possible. Some special schools are co-located with a mainstream school.
paid for by us I would add
You shouldn't be paying for additional support, it should be in the EHCP. If DS needs SALT input more than once a month it should be specified and quantified in section F, and therefore it must be provided. If the NHS won't provide it then privately.
Has DS been assessed by an OT?
How detailed and specific is the EHCP? If it is vague and woolly it will not be worth the paper it is written on.
Was detailed and specific advice sought from SLT/OT when the LA carried out the EHC Needs assessment? From what you've said it sounds as though your child needs much more input from SLT (surely there should be daily input?) and possibly input from OT. If your child's needs have not been identified correctly with the appropriate provision specified to meet those needs this will explain why the school is struggling.
And you shouldn't be paying for any kind of provision in a mainstream school. That is the responsibility of the LA, which is why the EHCP needs to very clear and specific.
Ok, maybe the EHCP isn’t specific enough. It was reviewed this week as part of the meeting. It states the issues DS has and the provision he needs in that it says he is non verbal and needs SALT. It does not specify every day, week etc. It says he needs one to one and we were led to think that the funding that would be provided would cover the one to one but when we asked numerous people if it could cover things like salt we were told that’s impossible to get funding for that in MS. Nhs Salt feeds in for various kids at the school but not to the level of once a week etc. Also even the private Salt we use says she should be able to train up the one to one and says that’s how they work as in the parents or carer need to do the day to day work and the Salt is only periodic. But the one to one has no success with it (not sure if it’s him or DS I suspect a combo of both!).
His needs per se haven’t changed during the time he has had the EHCP and even the Salt and Ot say his one to one needs to implement their stuff so I’m not sure if they would see him more often anyway! Even if we paid! I asked his OT actually now I come to think about it when the EHCP was drafted if it could be drafted to cover her fees and she said no, there’s never sufficient funding for that... the kids with EHCPs that she sees in MS always get her fees paid by the parents! So I took that as read and thought we were lucky to get the one to one funded!
Mildred, there are other MS schools but how do I know they will have any different approach? DS’s school is well respected and if they think a SS is better I can’t see why another MS would argue and take on the hassle...
By alternatives to the mainstream i did mean special. I am just trying to convey how different they are so did you know which special school they are thinking off.
Ah!! I’m not sure they have one in mind. I am going to have to look around some...
It isn't correct you can't get SALT funded in mainstream, the school and your OT are wrong. Funding isn't your concern, as long as the EHCP is specific and quantified it must be provided, if the school haven't got enough funding they need to approach the LA.
You should try to tighten the EHCP up. Everything in it should be detailed, specific and quantified. There shouldn't be any woolly, vague wording such as "access to", "would benefit from" or "or equivalent". Otherwise, as Ellie posted, it isn't worth the paper it's written on. Is the 1:1 quantified? e.g. full time 1:1 or 30hours etc. The experience, training and qualifications of the 1:1 should also be detailed.
It's not about other mainstream schools not "taking on the hassle". There are limited reasons the LA can refuse to name your preference none of which would appear to apply here.
Are you in the UK? If so which country? Things work differently in Scotland and NI. Ds is a similar chap though at college now. You can stay at the school you are at if you want to and you can get support in school. I don’t have time as I’m doling out food. First step is to write down what you think would be ideal.
It isn't correct you can't get SALT funded in mainstream, the school and your OT are wrong. I agree.
Unfortunately, all too often, parents get fobbed off and gaslighted with inaccurate and sometimes downright unlawful information.
Therapies which educate or train a child/young person are educational provision and must be specified in Section F of the EHCP. The LA has a legal duty to secure all the provision specified in Section F. ( Section 42 of the Children & Families Act 2014)
So, for example, where occupational therapy is required for educational activities, e.g. to enable stable sitting at a desk or gripping pens, this is educational provision.
Case law has established that speech and language therapy is normally special educational provision.
You might find it helpful to check your EHC Plan against this checklist:
Thank you all so much for taking time to help me, this is amazing. I suppose the choice now is do we look at SS or really refine his EHCP to include details of a really experienced one to one for example (current one is lovely but just another pair of hands rather than anyone with the right experience of DS’s issues) and give MS one last go. But feel aggrieved school haven’t made any effort to suggest this.., if they don’t want him maybe it’s best for a clean break...
We are in England 5zeds
May I ask why you feel mainstream school is the right place for him?
What is it you think he gets from it that he wouldn’t get from a SS? And vice versa? Have ever been to look at any of the specialist provision?
I am a teacher in mainstream school, we have had a child some year ago who was very like your son. We worked very hard and she had an amazing one to one but ultimately we could not adequately provide for her needs. She left us when she was about 7.
I would think that school are more concerned about the future and how he will manage as he leaves eyfs and goes into more formal schooling. Our experience tends to be that the gap between a child with severe needs and their peers just gets wider and wider. This of course is not true for all children and it may well be that a dual placement might be the answer.
Funding is complicated and often difficult to access. It also often doesn’t even begin to cover the costs that a school have to lay out.
Also a ‘really experienced’ one to one would be the ultimate goal in all Such situations ... not always that easy to find. They don’t get paid very much.....
OP are there any schools with language bases in your borough or a neighbouring accessible one? I know there are some in London but not sure how widespread they are. These are mainstream schools which offer specialist language support for children with needs. They can access a mainstream education and get specialist support at the same time. That might be an option if you don't want to go full specialist?
We moved our child from mainstream to fully specialist and it has been the absolute making of him. But children are very different and the mainstream school definitely exhausted options with him whereas yours sounds a bit wishy washy.
We definitely experienced the widening gaps as our child went up the school. It got harder and harder to meet need as that gap widened.
From speaking with a lot of people (including teachers!) the general view seems to be that children benefit from being alongside nt peers (socially, speech, behaviours). DS is very sociable and has no behaviour issues. He also does not have any aversions to the environment such as being upset by noise or other things. Cognitively he is very bright. Although his speech delay is severe I don’t see him as being severe in any other respect or beyond what I would have thought MS could accommodate (admittedly with the right support at the moment).
Ironically there are plenty of kids in his school who are verbally fluent but who kick, bite, throw chairs and swear at the teachers and they are delighted to keep them with the right help...
Neon, what difference did it make for your son? Why was that? How was he then and now?
I think mainstream teachers often think SS will be much better without ever having visited one or spoken to parents after their children have grown to see what they think. I need to be clear and explain that our experience of SS was not at all positive. Ds is exceptionally gentle and SS was not.
Rather than SS if you do want to move him do you have a local primary with a language unit attached?
I’m trying to remember what adjustments Ds had in Primary. I think for y5/6 we had the following.
Special start and finish to day, for quieter handover and easy communication
1:1 TA including at break time, we had two so they did a half a day each to keep things fresh and bounce ideas off each other.
Desk outside class with work set if class got overwhelming
Breaks in the playground
Input from CIT (communication and interaction team who guide teachers and TAs with best practice and solutions)
Input from SALT with direct support in removing language from tasks, and learning useful phrases/games/working on all things language. I remember a book called Language forThinking (it’s a set of three so he might like the one before or after), and something like Black Sheep?
OT provided big squishy pens writing slopes and a wobble cushion which was excellent for popping down so he knew where to sit.
Access to a separate toilet with pictures to keep him on track.
He was included in everything from parts in the school play to sports day to summer fair.
I’d go and look at all the options and see where you think you can make him happy.
Thank you 5zeds. DS is very gentle too and sensitive. We do have some units and yes, I will take a look at all options. X