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School want to start a diagnosis but I’m not sure of what?

(27 Posts)
Babyiwantabump Fri 15-Feb-19 00:01:55

I don’t know if anyone can help but I had my DS’s parents evening last night and they have discussed about putting my son forward for a diagnosis of “complex communication needs” but what does this mean? They have had a senco in to observe him for the day and I’m still waiting for that report but just wondering if anyone knew what they were hinting towards?

Does this mean he is on the autistic spectrum?

To be honest it has come as a complete shock as he just seems like any 5 year old little boy to me - yes he is a bit shy but I don’t think he has SEN. At least I didn’t .

Thanks in advance

Babyiwantabump Fri 15-Feb-19 00:08:25

The main points she raised was that he didn’t want to put his coat on and he prefers to talk to the adults but does mix with the children .

He joined the school late as it was our first choice school and he didn’t get it so was put on the waiting list - he only joined about two weeks late though.

He is shy with new people but isn’t that just an age thing?

She also said that he appears to need to tap his leg and also doesn’t concentrate after the main part of a lesson for example .

Surely this is all just 5 year old stuff getting used to school life?

hazeyjane Fri 15-Feb-19 00:08:52

School can't diagnose anything.

Do they want to refer him to speech and language?

What are their specific concerns?

hazeyjane Fri 15-Feb-19 00:10:24

Did he go to preschool or nursery? We're any concerns raised there?

BackforGood Fri 15-Feb-19 00:12:47

School can't diagnose anything. They can only 'put forward / refer for assessment'. Diagnosis of anything comes from a medical professional

I've not heard the term 'complex communication needs', per se, but wold suggest that if a child had anything 'complex' you would have been aware of it before he was 5.

What is his speech like ?
What is his understanding like ?

Greensleeves Fri 15-Feb-19 00:19:34

There's not enough information there for me to have an opinion on what diagnosis they have in mind - that's what worries me here. If they have serious enough concerns to be throwing around phrases like "complex communication needs", then they should have said a LOT more to you as the parent about what exactly the issues are and how they are interpreting them.

The SENCo is a member of school staff with responsibility for special needs, not an external professional. The next step would probably be an ed psych visiting to observe him in class, then possibly a referral to another specialist (eg speech and language) depending on what his perceived difficulties are.

It's unacceptable for you to be in the dark and feeling confused about what the school think his needs might be. I would ask for a meeting at school with his teacher and the SENCo so that you can ask some searching questions (write them down before you go in) and make it clear that as his mother, you need to be fully informed and involved at every stage from now on.

Babyiwantabump Fri 15-Feb-19 00:28:06


No issues with his speech - in fact he talked from a very early age roughly 10 months , hearing is also fine .

They have had an external person come in to assess him and that is the report I’m waiting for .

She said this external person wanted to put him forward for a diagnosis - and that it could take 2 years for it to happen .

I’m not really sure of their concerns - she just kept saying it is apparent that he has “Complex Communication Needs” but she didn’t really elaborate on that - just said about when he didn’t want his coat on and that he will gravitate towards adults . But he does have plenty of friends .

I’m just not reallly sure what she was hinting at as it just sounds normal to me .

He went to nursery for one day a week and then from age 3 went to pre school for the other 4 (so was in some kind of setting 5 days a week)

The pre school was attached to the school he was in originally but then we took him out and put him in this one when the place was offered ( only because it is better situated to my DDs senior school so easier school runs)

Babyiwantabump Fri 15-Feb-19 00:31:52

Nursery and pre school didn’t have any concerns about him at all.

His understanding is fine I think - she said he is a very bright , clever lovely little boy also , which is why I’m so confused .

This “diagnosis” could have huge ramifications for his future .

I just feel very in the dark about it all as it has come out of the blue really , when they said they were getting someone in to assess him I was expecting them to say that there was nothing wrong at all and now this .

BlankTimes Fri 15-Feb-19 00:49:14

Ask for the SENCO's report in writing, or ask them to email you and let you know why they consider he has “complex communication needs” because you're likely not to take in everything they say if you ring up, simply because you're so blindsided at the moment.
It will help you to see their concerns written down, then you can go through them one by one and research the meanings.

Does this mean he is on the autistic spectrum?
School cannot diagnose, nor should they suggest a diagnosis, that's up to the professionals who will see your son and give him some fun things to do whilst taking a 'history' from you about his birth, his milestones like what age he spoke, when he sat up, crawled, then walked, did he point at things he wanted you to look at, how does he get your attention, how does he ask you to get him something he can't get himself, reaction to sudden loud noises, soft touch, firm touch, different types of clothing, seams in clothing, is he clumsy, can he follow instructions, what's he like when plans for the day suddenly change, basically just ordinary lifestuff. If you've got a note of these sort of things, or if you want to start noticing these sorts of things from now and making a note of anything that seems excessive or unusual, it can come in handy to give a copy to any of the professionals you'll see.
If he went to nursery, they should have notes of any behavioural and communication observations.

It could be that he can't hear well, so his communication and understanding and speech is behind his peers, that should be one of the first things they test for, before anything like autism is considered.

Please don't worry, right now school have spotted an opportunity to help your son by suggesting these tests, it's extremely rare for any diagnosis to be given in solely one interview, it's usually done over quite a wide timespan involving different professionals like Paediatrician, Speech therapist, Occupational therapist, Educational Psychologist (usually called Paed, SLT, OT and Ed Psych) who will meet you and your son then they all get together and decide what if any problems exist and what they can do to help.

SNChat and SNChildren are busier boards than this one

BlankTimes Fri 15-Feb-19 00:53:45

Sorry for the cross-posts with everyone else, there were no replies when I started writing mine, I only saw them after I'd pressed 'post message'

Babyiwantabump Fri 15-Feb-19 00:57:06

Forgot he also went to preschool just for morning sessions from age 2 (still with 1 full day nursery) .

Everything she was describing he doesn’t do at home .

I’m trying to remember exactly what she said but it was something like needing to knock his leg against something and then repeatedly tapping his face when sat on the mat at story time (have never seen him do either of these)

Not wanting to put his coat on ( hinting at sensory issues maybe) but he does put his coat on when he realises it’s cold .

Not liking PE lessons in the big hall - but is fine around big groups at break time and after school club . (Again I think she was hinting at something sensory due to noise- but he has never had an issue in crowds and absolutely loved it at a local festival last year watching bands and being in the tent with music so surely this kind of thing would have upset him)

Oh and for the first couple of weeks he kept getting tummy aches before lunch but after they told me I started giving him cereal and toast in the morning and they stopped - maybe she was hinting at anxiety?

For what it’s worth one of my relatives is a clinical psychologist and surely they would have noticed something if there was an issue ? They are in close contact with him and so would have noticed something!

Sorry for all the long posts - just want to get everything across to see if anyone has any clue!

Babyiwantabump Fri 15-Feb-19 01:01:13

Thankyou for all your replies - the assessment was only last week on the 5th and she said I would recieve a copy at home I just wish the teacher could have elaborated a bit on her concerns - maybe she is waiting for her copy of the report too?

Greensleeves Fri 15-Feb-19 01:05:45

If it was an external professional I suspect it was an ed psych - but really, the teacher/SENCo should have been really explicit with you about who it was and what they are assessing for. I'd still advise asking for a meeting with them and making sure they understand you're not prepared to be left out of the loop.

My ds1's diagnosis for ASD did take about two years from initial assessment.

hazeyjane Fri 15-Feb-19 06:26:08

When they bought in the outside professional, did they not talk to you about it beforehand and ask you to come in?

Ellie56 Fri 15-Feb-19 08:38:14

This is really weird. If there really is an issue, I am pretty sure you would have noticed things at home well before now.

One of our sons was diagnosed with a severe and complex language disorder at age 4, but we had been well aware of difficulties prior to that, and another was diagnosed with ASD at 7, after we had been raising concerns about autism since he was 3.

When you say your son has plenty of friends, does he actually play with them or does he just play alongside them?

BackforGood Fri 15-Feb-19 16:08:42

I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks this is weird.
Knowing the sparcity of EP time (or any other outside professional come to that - we don't know it was an EP),, then I can't understand how the school have got to the position of getting someone from outside school to take a look at a child, without having had several conversations with parents along the way, and also for the parents to be fully aware of the child's areas of need and for the child to have had support plans running for some time (which may be called any number of things in different schoos, but the school should still have evidence of what they have been doing to support the child.
None f this makes sense.

BlankTimes Fri 15-Feb-19 17:10:04

Yes, it does sound like an unusual situation for school to have an outside individual to observe a child, although it could be the school's own SENCO and the OP didn't realise.

she said he is a very bright , clever lovely little boy also , which is why I’m so confused

People can be bright and clever and autistic you know.

ALL assessment reports say things like that, as do most letters from Paeds, Ots, SLTs, Ed Psychs.

I have a massive file full. They often start like 'On [date] I met [name] who was [mentions some positive characteristics]

This “diagnosis” could have huge ramifications for his future
What, a few observations done by someone in a school environment?
If it's not a medical diagnosis, and I don't see how it could be one, it will have no effect on his future at all.

For what it’s worth one of my relatives is a clinical psychologist and surely they would have noticed something if there was an issue ? They are in close contact with him and so would have noticed something!
They could have noticed and decided to keep out of it, not make a clinical observation about someone who is a relative, not a patient, Professional Integrity.
Also you don't seem overly open to the idea that he may be autistic, perhaps your relative is also silent because they are aware of that.

The bottom line is, IF your son has autism, he has autism, he will go through his life being autistic whether he has a formal diagnosis or not.

IF he goes for diagnosis and does not have autism, you have not lost anything. Just because a child shows autistic traits, they will not be diagnosed with autism unless they actually are autistic.

Please read this thread, it may make you see the difference between what happens to autistic children who are diagnosed early and helped, versus the ones who are left undiagnosed.

betterwithasetter1 Sat 16-Feb-19 11:09:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BlankTimes Sun 17-Feb-19 02:36:28

choose to see the "label" as useful

Please don't use the term "label" it's very misleading, derogatory and belittling.
During a diagnosis for autism, usually a team of medical professionals are investigating a neurodevelopmental condition in a child or adult, not sticking a label on a suitcase or a jar of jam.

see page 6 of this thread

betterwithasetter1 Sun 17-Feb-19 17:54:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Babyiwantabump Sun 17-Feb-19 18:16:50

Thankyou for your replies - have been away over the past few days so haven’t been in here .

I think I’m just a bit baffled because I hadn’t noticed anything about him that could lead to a diagnosis - and neither had nursery or playschool as far as I’m aware (I’m sure they would have said something) and I just can’t get my head around what they are saying. It’s like they are talking about a different child as he doesn’t act the way they say he does at home IYSWIM.

It’s just a little out of the blue and then all of a sudden they are talking about starting an official diagnosis when he just seems like any other child to me.

I’m trying to find the words without offending anyone but he just seems normal , I really wouldn’t think he has any issues .

I will dig the letter out shortly to find out exactly who came to asses him to see if that helps . And now of course it’s half term so I can’t speak to the teacher to get her to clarify anything so I’m just worrying and keep thinking how could I have missed any of this and would it have helped to get him outside input from a younger age ?

Babyiwantabump Sun 17-Feb-19 18:24:17

It was someone from the SEND support service that came out to assess him .

hazeyjane Sun 17-Feb-19 18:27:36

And did they not talk you beforehand that someone was coming in to observe your child?

What aspects of development are they concerned about?

Babyiwantabump Sun 17-Feb-19 20:01:10

All they told me was that someone was coming out to assess him because of the reasons mentioned above .

Then they have said after this assessment they now want to put him forward for a diagnosis because they believe he has Complex Communication Needs .

I don’t really understand what the term Complex Communication Needs Means hence why I started this thread .

They didn’t use any other terms when talking about it and when I googled the term it seems to refer to people on the autistic spectrum .

Babyiwantabump Sun 17-Feb-19 21:08:39

And he plays with children - he plays with his brother and sister anyway and not just alongside them .

He also seems to be the one to initiate playing with new children in the park he hasn’t met before - he will go over and say hello etc and initiate a game .

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