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Choose between mainstream and special school

(6 Posts)
Umara Thu 28-Feb-19 15:51:44

Hey ladies feel like very very lonely while making this decision for my daughter. A lot bit about her she has ASD completely non verbal and currently attending a nursery in Manchester where my older sons goes. My daughter has sensory needs which the school thinks can be better met in SS the EHC plan is under the process I have been suggested by lots of professionals to start looking for the SS but I can’t make my mind and I don’t if it will make my daughter better or worse but right now she lives In her own world doesn’t seem to be bothered about the environment.
I am very confused and even if I decid to send her to SS I have no idea how to pick one so any experience or suggestions are welcomed

magicroundabouts Thu 28-Feb-19 22:56:07

I had to make this decision last year. DS2 is at preschool at the moment and will be starting Reception this September. Like your DD, he has ASD, limited language and quite significant sensory needs. In the end we decided to go with a SS. DS is tactile hypo-sensitive, so when he isn't coping he bites, kicks and lashes out. He also finds the noise at preschool very hard to cope with and although he has 1:1 support it hasn't helped to integrate him with his peers and he is quite isolated. A mainstream class with 30 children will by its very nature just be too much for him.

I spoke with the Early Support team as well. We were finalising his EHCP at the time and they said that if we applied for SS then we would likely get a place, but if we decided to try mainstream for a couple of years and see how he got on the wait for a SS place would likely be 2 years plus. They said as well that if we wanted to move back to mainstream at any point that would easy enough to organise.

In terms of choosing a SS. I visited all the SS in the County. I made the choice based on how I felt DS would fit in and looked for children who seemed to have a similar presentation to DS. The schools were all very different, so I would recommend visiting as many as possible. There was one that I discounted straight away, as I could tell that it wouldn't be right (very scientific!).

I am hoping we have made the right choice for DS. Maybe make some appointments to visit different schools SS and mainstream? That would give you better idea of the options in your area. It is so hard to advise isn't it, as areas are so different?

Umara Thu 28-Feb-19 23:34:43

Thanks for sharing your experience i will do but would I be able tell by my guts that this is right school for her
OMG. I m so scared what if I make the wrong choice
How is the school helping your child I mean is he getting better happy

spader1987 Fri 01-Mar-19 10:30:29

My son is 9 and attends a special school not far from you although in a different borough. Your dd sounds very similar to him, he is totally non verbal also. He started nursery at his special school (is still there now) and even though we have issues sometimes it absolutely was the right decision for him. I viewed both mainstream and special schools and asked lots and lots of questions. It was clear when i viewed the mainstream schools they would have no clue how to help him, nor did they have the resources. It is very important that you see both and follow your instincts. Only you know your dd and what she needs.

Most special schools have there own speech and language therapist, this may be attractive as nhs salt can be a challenge at times. This is not a statutory service but many do provide this.

Consider what communication aid your dd uses, can the school meet these needs. If in mainstream would she have a 1:1 who understood pecs or proloquo2go as an example (depending on what she needs).

Can the environment meet her sensory needs, do they have understanding of this? Do they have a sensory safe space/room?

Does she require ot? Some special schools have there own on site, my sons does.

Class size? Would she benefit from a smaller class with higher staffing ratio? Would she cope in a class of 30?

I would go and see as many as you can because provision really does vary even between special schools.

Hope this helps and good luck!

magicroundabouts Sat 02-Mar-19 01:02:00

DS hasn't started at SS yet. He is attending a mainstream preschool at the moment and will move to his new school in September. I worried too about making the right choice. I made a lot of mistakes when picking nursery and preschool. I didn't understand his needs at the time though and I agree with spader1987 focusing on your DD's needs is the best way to make the decision. Some advice I was given, was to think through a typical school day and what a child would be expected to do in both the mainstream and special schools you have seen. So, things like hanging up their coat, putting book bags in draws, changing for PE, using the toilet, lining up in the cafeteria at lunch etc. Then thinking through the additional support that would be needed to achieve this in each setting and how your child would cope with the sensory environment. This did help narrow the choice down for me.

I am hopeful that the decision we have made for DS is the right one. I don't think you can ever know a 100% in advance. You just have to weigh up the options and pick the one that you think is the best fit with the knowledge that you have at the time. It doesn't have to be forever either. If in the future, for whatever reason, DS's placement needs to be reviewed we will cross that bridge when the time comes.

Good luck!

MumUnderTheMoon Fri 15-Mar-19 16:45:11

I think that special schools are amazing. I don't understand what you mean by "make her worse" surely you don't think a special school will make her autism more autistic. If she has complex sensory needs and is non verbal then a busy mainstream school could be very distressing for her. My dd was the same at 5 and she has thrived at special school had she remained at mainstream she would have gotten lost amongst a class of 30 other kids. As it stands she has a lovely use of language, she is happy and secure and in spite of some serious memory issues she is learning to read.

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