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ASD unit with mainstream school or special school?

(5 Posts)
whenwilligetsomesleep Sun 17-Feb-13 11:01:59

Posted this on the special needs children board as well but maybe there is someone here too?!

Hello All,
First of all thanks to anyone who takes the time to read this. I have a little boy who is about to turn 3 and was recently diagnosed as being autistic. He has been attending nursery sessions at a brilliant special school since late last year. At his review they indicated that long term the school he is at (which we love) would not be a suitable option for him and he will likely change schools in a year. I asked what they thought might be suitable and they said a mainstream school with an ASD unit attached. I suggested perhaps a school that is solely for ASD pupils but they didn't seem to think so although they didn't say why & I will be asking after half term. They are starting his statementing process and are confident that will go through fine.

So here's my dilemma. I am extremely concerned about sending my boy to a school that is predominantly mainstream. My main worry is that he will be bullied or teased and won't even realise or be able to tell anyone. He has no comprehension of others emotions at all and just thinks everyone wants to play with him. As he gets older the difference between him and other 'normal' children becomes more pronounced. His peer group now comment on his lack of speech (he only has limited single words) and not always in a very nice way. He is also a master copycat and because he wants to play with anybody around but doesn't really understand how that normally works he mimics other children. This can be irritating to them and has led to some unpleasant experiences where i have had to remove him when the children get annoyed with him. He also likes to be affectionate and hug other children but frequently tries to do this to children who are not actually being nice to him. I know it sounds small but he is very long sighted and has to wear glasses with very magnifying lenses which sets him apart from most other children and can make him a target for mean kids. I really don't know what his best options are and I didn't think he would have to change schools so soon. The school he is at now is so lovely and he thrives there but I guess they will need the space perhaps for a more disabled child. All of this is causing me a lot of anxiety. I can't raise it with his teacher until after half term so I was wanting to hear the experiences of others.

The nearest ASD school is about half an hour from me and is very good. There are also two small ASD units attached to mainstream primary schools near me. One is at a very bad school and the other is at a good school but they only take children up to age 7 anyway. I really want to hear any experiences, good or bad,or advice about my options.

Annabella56 Sun 18-Aug-13 17:52:17

Hello, I work in mainstream secondary with an ASD unit!
Your son will not be bullied if he goes to one of these schools as everyone in the school has ASD awareness.
He will have support in his lesson for his ASD related needs e.g clear explanations. It is likely he will have 75% mainstream timetable and 25% ASd related timetable for homework hours, anger management, social skills and sex education for those with ASD.
It is a win-win situation as he will be able to access G.C.S.E and A levels dependant on his academic ability! He will also be able to eat his lunch and break with other children with ASD not with everyone else . His ASD needs will be met but he will have a mainstream education. Hope this helps you decide what work for your child.

Annabella56 Sun 18-Aug-13 17:54:03

It will be good for him to mix with those without ASD as well as those with ASD.

anna66 Sun 15-Sep-13 14:13:26

Hi there, I hope I can be of some help. Just a personally opinion
My son was diagnosed with autism at 3. I managed to get a statement put in place (as a parent application) with full time 1:1 support on the day that he started the nursery of a local village primary school. One nursery teacher there said at the time that my son would not last and that I would need to move him by reception. This small village primary school had no special ASD unit.
Well, 7 years on and my son is in Year 6 of the same school, reading and writing like all his peers and has made dear friends there for life. He still has 1:1 support, but he's adored by his class as they have grown up with them. The children in the class and the whole school have been so accepting. My son has never been bullied!
Quite important a child with asd needs to be reminded of proper social rule, which can only be re-enforced in a mainstream school...not a special school.
I have just finalized my son's secondary school placement and he will be going to mainstream again with 1:1
Be good to hear what you decide

TheStreet2014 Tue 17-Sep-13 13:14:22

I am an SEN consultant with a local authority. In response to your query, I would argue that exposure to everyday social contexts is important for the develoment of a child with an ASC, especially those with more moderate needs. For the more acute, and highly impeding ASCs, then a special school would be suitable. Your concerns around bullying are not well founded in my experience, rather, resourced provisions for children with ASCs tend to be very tolerant environments and feature a high level of staff expertise. You get the best of both worlds; a highly stimulating social environment and access to specialist teachers and support staff.

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