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Here are some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on special needs.

Mainstream 'education' for a non verbal child on the spectrum
49

salondon · 28/09/2013 07:31

To give you some background. My daughter is 4. Due to start reception in sept 2014. She is in a home/day care VB/ABA program 20hrs/week. Non verbal, not looking at books, videos, very limited receptive language, in potty training, needs help dressing up, lunch etc.

She is statemented. 15hrs/week term time during nursery year, 1:1. And 25 hrs when she goes to reception. under appeal for ABA.

I went to see one of the local infant school. The senco and headmistress were very open and honest. I went with one of the tutors. They said they'll hire the therapist as a low pay lsa(they said that is the funding they have, statement isn't about funding etc, let's leave that for another thread), however,(and the tutor and I could see this ourselves) the class rooms at big, 30 children and nowhere to take a child if you wanted to do any 1:1 work with them. They agree that since she'll have the 1:1 with her she'll do fine in reception which is play based. They agree that NT peers are best for her if she can tolerate the school life (sensory wise). But what happens in year 1. When she is expected to sit through lessons. they said if you then decide to send her to an ARP or SS, it will be a big hassle.

There are two ways of looking at this.

-year 1 is 24 months away. She might be ready for small lessons with 1:1 support by then. And she will have her own IEP

  • they were honest about what they can and can't do. They said they can take 'care' of the child, but not educate her if she isn't able to attend most lessons. I don't quite agree because where my daughter is today, having any sort of academic expectation is futile. For now she needs life skills - crossing the road, asking for help, telling someone if she is in pain, feeding, toileting etc. functional communication. These are our targets on her ABA program. She can have tantrums but the therapists now know her well enough to avoid or divert them.

    So if you were me, would you thank the school for being honest, request that they hire your tutor on their payroll(and I would top up the tutor) and send your child there for reception. and deal with year 1 issues later.

    The biggest risk here is that she can't cope in the huge classroom, has no where to be taken away for 1:1 and we end up negotiating another placement with LEA(after going through tribunal for winning ABA in the first place).

    Thanks and I hope I have written this in a manner that makes sense.
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lougle · 28/09/2013 07:43

There is no way I would do that. Special schools get full, quickly. Our special school will already have referrals for next year and will be well 'over number' for referrals by Christmas.

If a special school is good, it will have specialist ASD classes with small numbers (our most intense Asd class has 6 children, 7 staff) functional curriculum, embedded salt therapy, etc.

Your dd needs an education, not babysitting.

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blueShark · 28/09/2013 08:28

Agree with lougle.

When DS was due to start reception he had a place at MS and the 1:1 the school was interviewing was a proactive mum of asd child that did aba and lots of other holistic therapies for her child. But, the class size as well as no quiet area was a big NO. I was lucky a place came up in a ARP.

I would try to find an adequate placement for at least end of KS1, needs change and you may need to rethink when she transitions to KS2 but you are lucky MS HT and Senco were honest. I would get them to put that in writing so that you have proof when naming school if you think LEA likes placing children in MS rather than adequate provision.

School is where they learn at their own pace, not where they are looked after.

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sickofsocalledexperts · 28/09/2013 08:34

Yes i would and did, gave my son a really good grounding in how the mainstream world works. He never really sat thru lessons, but had a differentiated curriculum, euther at desk at back or in corridor. It went wrong eventually, but a really important 3 years.

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AttilaTheMeerkat · 28/09/2013 08:37

Would have to agree with Lougle as well.

Year 1 is far different from reception, its far more learning and work.

IEP also stands for Individual Empty Promise; it means sod all really.

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sickofsocalledexperts · 28/09/2013 08:39

Oh and the ABA tutors were crucial, as I was adamant his behaviour would not disrupt the other 29 kids. Your school sounds pretty open-minded, this is unusual and v good!

There are always two schools of thought on this but i come at it as follows:

It is a mainstream world out there, why not try mainstream first (as is also your child's legal right)?

Ime very few kids ever go from ss to mainstream, traffic is all the other way, so this is your chance.

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sickofsocalledexperts · 28/09/2013 08:55

And it may go wrong SAlondon, but my experience was that it was not hard to get a ss place once mainstream went wrong, as the school was keen to get rid, so the LA had no choice. It actually strengthened my case for an ABA school, that I had tried for 3 years but ultimately failed at ms.

But people misunderstand mainstream inclusion - the child does not have to be doing the same lessons for it to qualify as ms inclusion. A child could be doing a differentiated curriculum in all subjects, bar, say, PE and art, and they would still be legally welcome in our schools (subject only to reasonable cost and no disruption). A corridor desk was our solution, though i have a lovely film of him doing his own v simple numbers worksheet (devised by me) at a desk in the class while the rest did fractions.

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salondon · 28/09/2013 09:33

SS with ABA is impossible in our area to win. I'll have to as for the ABA school in grays

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salondon · 28/09/2013 09:34

Another option is to send her to an of borough private school. Pay the school fees and get the 1:1 paid by lea.

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SallyBear · 28/09/2013 10:40

Salondon. We sent DS4 (ASD and Deaf) to ms with a full time TA. He's non verbal and had only just been potty trained. By the first half term he'd regressed and was back in nappies and spent all day in the sensory room to escape the other kids. We moved him to a Special School by the April. The school were more interested in getting the money and equipment that he would bring than actually trying to educate him. It was infact just babysitting paid for by the LA. At special school he has thrived. Please don't make my mistake.

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cansu · 28/09/2013 11:45

It can work. Dd now in y 3 sounds very similar to yours and she thrived with her ABA tutor as TA in a small village primary. She had full time 1:1 with the tutor who was taken on by the school. they found space when necessary for her by giving her a corner of the library so TA could work outside classroom sometimes especially in y1 and 2. Now in y3 she has a small area set up outside her classroom where she sometimes works, also works in classroom and also goes out in small group with another teacher for some sessions. I suppose I am saying that if she settles in they will start to see what they need to do and if needs be will find the space when she moves into y1. They sound nervous of taking her but they have perhaps never had a non verbal child. Dd could only say a few words then. She can say many more words now and is an accomplished iPad user of proloquo so can communicate quite a bit. The success of the placement for dd was down to the TA, the senco who was positive and open to trying things out and who was also the reception teacher. Look at lots of places but I would be considering trying the school especially as they are willing to take on tutor.

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sickofsocalledexperts · 28/09/2013 11:57

Are you anywhere treetops - the only state aba school in the UK, apparently superb?

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autumnsmum · 28/09/2013 13:00

Hello my dd is also starting reception in 2014 she is verbal however . We opted for a ss for her .dp and I were offered a choice between a resourced provision and a ss for her .we opted for ss as in the rp the children seemed to be being left to drift which dd is very prone to doing . Dds ss is great and she is starting to follow adult direction . I hope you get things sorted out soon as I know what a worry school is

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googlyeyes · 28/09/2013 13:32

I would say it depends on the quality of the special schools you have to choose from.

My son went straight to special school, as I never wanted him to be somewhere he wasn't completely embraced and welcome. My dd was at ms primary and I could not imagine what ds1 would gain from that environment, plus I could foresee huge stress for both of us if he went there.

Having said that though, I had a specific aba school in mind for him, and I knew that being there from the start of his education would give him the best life chances. I would not have countenanced him going to any other ss in our area though, so if we hadn't won a place there, we probably would have had to aim for a ms/ aba lsa option

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salondon · 28/09/2013 18:15

Yes SickOf. Not in the same borough. Treetops would be an option(through appeal and tribunal I am sure)

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salondon · 28/09/2013 18:18

Do your kids get ABA/VB in the SS or ARPs?

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SallyBear · 28/09/2013 18:25

No ABA, and tbh I still have no clue what it is Confused. Anyway, he's doing well. Loves school and they are constantly upping the ante with him in terms of learning, which is brilliant. If he'd been verbal, I may have chosen a more ASD SS for him, but where he is now is perfect for his needs.

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sickofsocalledexperts · 28/09/2013 18:53

Treetops has a really good success rate and i was told 33% of their preschoolers go into mainstream, anothet third into a unit and another stick with 1-to-1 ABA. I would go there in a heartbeat if lived close

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AgnesDiPesto · 28/09/2013 22:42

DS has 35 hours of ABA per week and 'access' to a mainstream school in his (tribunal won) statement. He started school 3 half days (cherry picked lessons like PE / afternoons etc which were more play based / social)

He's now in Year 2 goes 6 half days

He does not have significant sensory issues and the school does have space outside the classroom to take him out if needed. He copes well in a class of 30.

The mainstream children have been fantastic with him and are the best thing about school. He is verbal but rarely talks to other children. Yet the children are still fab with him. He needs to be around bossy mainstream children who make him join in.

School generally is no big deal. They don't teach him much, the teachers are too busy / clueless about autism. I think they could do a lot more for him but are lazy / happy to leave it all to ABA. We make up the shortfall at home / 1:1 (he's learnt more from his ipad than from school lessons)

DS does need the life skills etc etc and does that in the 20 hours a week he has ABA out of school and 35 hours in the holidays (he has a 48 week programme)

He has made a huge amount of progress. He can now learn in small groups alongside his peers (he is ahead of some of them on reading, maths etc). He still struggles to learn in a large group.

If your DD is learning and progressing I would be tempted to stick with what is working. You need to be sure an eclectic approach in SS or ARC will match up to ABA in terms of progress and outcomes.

DS would not manage with just a 38 week programme so SS or ARC could lead to regression over holidays (DS has 48 weeks ABA).

Year 1 was all about phonics and a bit of maths. But mainly phonics, phonics, phonics because of the phonics test. DS knew his phonics at 2 so that was ok for him. He likes the academic stuff and can rote learn anything

Now at year 2 he finds the structure easier than the play based mayhem. he likes sitting at a desk and learns best in a small group. He manages maths but needs individualised curriculum for literacy. There are fewer opportunities for social skills than reception / yr 1 so we use the after school club for that.

There are bits of mainstream which are great (the other children), bits not so great (teachers don't know how to teach him and assume he can't learn) but I do know ABA is best option for him and better than any of the SS round here.

Our programme is very much ABA with a bit of school. Our statement is worded so ABA supervisor decides on number of hours in school so it is very much school having to justify a role / positive contribution to the programme / taking time from 1:1.

How would the school be about your DD going part-time as part of FT ABA programme?

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mymatemax · 29/09/2013 00:01

it depends entirely on the school, have a look at other ms & SN schools.
our catchment primary ds2 would not have been able to cope with but after looking around we found two small ms primarys that suited.
He did a split placement in nursery & joined the primary in reception class.
was out of nappies during the day a few weeks before starting school
needed help with everything (asd, mild cp, learning diffs) to start with.
His receptive language was pretty good although very little expressive & nothing functional.
It worked because 1. The school wanted him there
2.They had a vast amount of sn experience
3Hugely experienced & caring TA's
4.Small class sizes
5.small school, 1 class per yr group, always less than 18 per class
6. we had great outreach support from the SN schools

He loved his ms primary & made huge progress... far exceeded our wildest expectations.

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ouryve · 29/09/2013 00:13

My boys are both currently in mainstream. DS2 is very much like your DD and is now in year 3. No ABA, but with a wonderful, creative, caring TA who works closely with him all the time, who he has a great deal of trust in (something not easily won).

The boys school is very small and they don't have a lot of spare space. But you know what? They've cleared out endless cupboards and alcoves full of junk. One is now a quiet room, where kids can go for therapy and either of mine can go and hide when they need peace and quiet for whatever reason. One is a general meeting room, where small groups can also work and a couple more are now IT area with a carpeted floor that can be sat on, comfortably.

The classroom that DS2 is now in was DS1's, last year. Then, it had all the pegs and coats in one corner. Now, that corner's been blanked off with furniture and coats are in the corridor, even though DS2's class is half as big again as DS1's. The area has become a "reading" corner where all kids can do some 1:1 work, including DS2.

He is still barely reading and not interested in writing (he's had the odd try, but prefers using screens), so KS2 work is largely irrelevant to him, but when his class is doing some quiet work at their desks, he likes to sit with them, with a pen and paper and make marks or use an iPad.

Socially he is doing far better than his extremely academically able brother. He has some firm friends amongst the older kids, who keep him under their wing (he even tries to talk to them) and is trusting some of the girls in his class, sharing PECS cards etc.

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ouryve · 29/09/2013 00:22

mymate - our kids are at similar schools in terms of size and culture, i think. The biggest miracle is that DS1 is still hanging in there, in year 5. Most schools would have got rid by year 1, statement or no statement.

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theDudesmummy · 29/09/2013 17:05

My DS (age 4, non verbal) has just started at mainstream, half-time, with one to one support, and continuing ABA tutoring in the afternoons at home. So far the school are being great and the TA seems excellent and DS likes her. (We are busy gearing up for Tribunal at the moment but that is about money primarily, not provision, in that we are paying for the ABA programme and have never had a penny despite the programme having been in the statement for over 6 months).

I am so hoping this is going to work. I had looked at and contacted so many schools, both state and private, and this one is the one that looked the best for him. (The private schools were all uniformly unhelpful, I was amazed at how uninterested they were).

On great thing, this time two weeks ago he was not anywhere near toilet trained. Now he is about 90% of the way there! This has made us very happy!

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theDudesmummy · 29/09/2013 17:06

Mymatemax your DS sounds a bit like mine, pretty good receptive language but very very little expressive. It is encouraging that it is possible to keep him in mainstream if the school have the will...

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mymatemax · 29/09/2013 22:42

yep its all about the culture & attitude of the school, forget Ofsted & reputation.
Go & visit, get a feel for the place & go with your gut

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theDudesmummy · 30/09/2013 10:42

Yes, I would agree with that, the way I chose our school was a lot to do with gut feeling, I had a good impression the minute I walked in, and even more so after speaking to the head. Some other schools I had not even bothered to look at (especially goes for the private ones) because of the negative attitude that came through on initial emails and phone conversations. (Our nearest school is actually an Ofsted Outstanding and the kind of school that people pay literally hundreds of thousands extra on their house or move from their own houses to rented houses to be in the catchment area of. And they were completely lacking in enthusiasm).

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