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

moving to London from US
13

krobhix20 · 11/05/2022 16:44

Hi,
We are moving this summer to London, likely Wandsworth with our two DS ages 5 and 3. My husband's job is transferring us over. His company is smaller so we won't be getting the full expat experience of paid for housing, schools, etc. However they are sponsoring our visas and giving us a stipend for school b/c my 5 year old is SN. He has been diagnosed with sensory processing disorder and we have just done his first diagnosis for ASD and ADHD and are awaiting the results. We are hoping that we can use these diagnosis and reports to get started on an ECHP once we get a residential address. The entire process has been daunting and frustrating. I've been reading the boards here for a while and it definitely sounds like it's incredibly frustrating and a long long long waiting time for every child in the UK.

I really don't understand this process and why it's so slow moving. Is the only way to fast track it by doing private assessments? That seems so unfair. So much of helping our DC is early intervention. But it seems that's impossible. I also don't understand if I already have diagnosis and reports for my child, and I know what he needs why would I be forced to send him to a mainstream school just for him to fail again to then begin the seemingly years long process to get assistance.

My son is already in a SN independent school here in the US. There are 5 kids in his class, there are 2 full time therapists on staff, a sensory room, etc. He is doing much better, but still struggling there. Why on earth should I put him back in a classroom of 30 kids? It would be awful for everyone involved, the other students, teachers and administrators. No one would be happy. Is there a way around this at all? This is my biggest stressor and fear about the move.

Any help anyone can offer is greatly appreciated.

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AReallyUsefulEngine · 11/05/2022 20:46

EHCPs are governed by statutory timescales, the process takes 20 weeks, so if the LA don’t stick to that you can enforce the timescales. You can find out more information on IPSEA and SOSSEN’s website.

You don’t need private assessments, the EHCNA includes assessments. And support in schools is based on needs rather than diagnosis. One exception is if you are going for e.g. an ASD specialist school where some require an official diagnosis.


If attending mainstream isn’t suitable then DC don’t have to attend. When you move the LA will have a duty to provide a suitable, full time education, if mainstream isn’t suitable that needs to be in another form e.g. alternative provision or home tuition until arrangements for a suitable school are made. Some LAs have assessment places in special schools in the early years where DC can be admitted whilst undergoing the EHCNA.

Be aware many areas don’t recognise SPD as a stand alone diagnosis.

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LightTripper · 12/05/2022 12:10

I'm afraid my kids are in private so I don't know much about EHCPs etc. but PP has advised on that.

A lot of schools in my part of London have an ASD unit that provides additional support to autistic kids (so they are on site with the mainstream school, and will join for some lessons, but will have other lessons and can have down time in the unit with more support). Your local authority should have an early years SEN coordinator who may be able to advise on which schools are likely to be best suited to your DS and how to apply. As PP said, you will likely need an EHCP for specialist provision so it would be worth figuring out how to kick off that process ideally before you arrive (don't know if that is possible).

I don't know if you already have seen it, but it would be worth looking at the Wandsworth "Local Offer". This is something every local authority has to provide to show what services they provide for children and young people with Special Needs. There might be some useful things there - including possibly parent coffee mornings/online groups where you can get advice (often I find parents know more/are more willing to share information on what's available than public authorities).
fis.wandsworth.gov.uk/kb5/wandsworth/fsd/localoffer.page?familychannel=2
thrive.wandsworth.gov.uk/kb5/wandsworth/fsd/service.page?id=bNsbMManLcQ

This page seems particularly relevant - on what to do if you are new to Wandsworth: there is a contact e-mail and phone number at the bottom.
fis.wandsworth.gov.uk/kb5/wandsworth/fsd/advice.page?id=PSdUvMeMcxs

Here is a local charity/support group that is probably worth signing up to/contacting - they may be able to put you in touch with parents who can advise:
www.autism.org.uk/directory/c/contact-wandsworth

It looks like Wandsworth also used to have a local NAS (National Autistic Society) branch but doesn't seem active any more - might be worth pinging them anyway just to see if anybody is still monitoring the account:
mobile.twitter.com/nas_wandsworth

Another local group:
www.facebook.com/WandsSAG/

Hope some of these may be useful!

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AReallyUsefulEngine · 12/05/2022 14:51

You won’t be able to apply for an EHCP before you move.

If you do go down the private school route, one thing to be aware of is not all mainstream independent schools are supportive of pupils with SEN, and when they are they often charge parents extra. Independent special schools often require an EHCP and even if they don’t it isn’t cheap. You would need an EHCP for an ARP too.

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LightTripper · 13/05/2022 10:30

If you are thinking of going the private route, I'm told by friends that private schools outside London (but still in commuting distance) are often a better bet and more accommodating. So if you are keen to go the private route it may be worth considering the commuter belt rather than central London even if it gives your OH a commute. The Good Schools Guide has an advisory service which may be of help if this is a route you want to consider (I haven't used it myself):
www.goodschoolsguide.co.uk/education-consultants/services/special-educational-needs-service

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krobhix20 · 13/05/2022 18:11

This has all been so helpful. The links @LightTripper were really useful and information I hadn't found on my own.

@AReallyUsefulEngine I had heard that about SPD which is why we got the assessments here. We are hoping to be able to use those assessments and get a jump on the EHCP once we have an address, which of course can't happen until we have a visa, which of course is now delayed due to war in Ukraine.

Maybe I'm jumping the gun and being overly proactive but I just can't go back to the days of getting phone calls every day from the school to pick him up because he's misbehaving. Our hope is the LA will take our US assessments and start on the EHCP. I feel like I've read horror stories on these boards of people waiting 18months or longer to get assessments, but maybe I've misunderstood and those assessments are different that what happens for the EHCP.

If our visa's come back we are planning a trip for first week of June to visit schools. We've narrowed down to the Chelsea Hall School and Riversdale. Chelsea Hall we will have to pay out of pocket until EHCP comes in, so $$$$. Riversdale we were pleasantly surprised with. They have an ASD base but they often use those resources and skills with mainstream students. I don't know if he will make it to be honest, but seems like it could be worth a shot.

Also what is an ARP? LOL

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AReallyUsefulEngine · 13/05/2022 20:31

Assessments on the NHS for a diagnosis often have long waits, but assessments via an EHCNA (the needs assessment before the LA decide whether to issue an EHCP or not) are governed by statutory timescales and you can enforce them if the LA breach.

Have you been in contact with the SS yet? Because many special schools, including independents, won’t let you visit without already being in the EHCP process. And have you checked they will allow you to self fund, again not all independent SS do allow parents to.

One thing to note, Chelsea Hall school is wholly independent so to get it named in the EHCP you will need to show the school(s) the LA propose cannot meet DC’s needs &/or the cost isn’t unreasonable public expenditure.

An ARP is an additionally resourced provision i.e. like the ASD base where pupils spend some time in the base and some time in mainstream (the exact organisation and time split varies ARP to ARP). Also sometimes called additionally resourced unit/base or an enhanced provision.

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Ilovechoc12 · 15/05/2022 08:28

The EHCP can take a looooonnnnnggggg time - we are coming up to 1.5 yrs and it’s still not final plus a tribunal.
Thats with 4 professional independent reports too (as he waited for 2 yrs plus for the nhs abs got bored).

If you want to pay for a private specialist - EP / speech I’d sign up now - as even the private have 6 months waiting times and cost a few thousand 🤪🤪🤪 nhs - you are talking years.

Some SS are £80,000 plus per yr too - so check how much they are costing.

Generally it’s a fight for a SS and the LA will always try the cheapest first ….

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AReallyUsefulEngine · 15/05/2022 09:54

nhs - you are talking years.

Not when it is via an EHCNA. The EHCNA is governed by statutory timescales and anyone asked for advice must respond within 6 weeks. If the NHS e.g. SALT can’t or won’t assess within the statutory timescales the LA must commission independent assessments.

OP don’t be put off by the timescales. The EHCP process takes 20 weeks if you don’t have to appeal. If the LA breach the timescales you can enforce them. If you do have to appeal it is taking longer than previously, to give you an idea parents are currently getting hearing dates in November.

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krobhix20 · 16/05/2022 17:46

Ok. So seems like we are going down the right path and that I am being as proactive as I can be. Hopefully we have better insight which route we want to go down Chelsea Hall vs. Riversdale after our trip in June.

We will arrive with recent assessments/diagnosis/evaluations for ASD/ADHD/SPD. Will he have to be reassessed again for the EHCNA?

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AReallyUsefulEngine · 16/05/2022 17:56

The EHCNA won’t include reassessment in terms of diagnosis, but will include reassessment by e.g. EP.

During an EHCNA the LA must seek advice from:
a) the child’s parent or the young person;
b) educational advice (usually from the head teacher or principal);
c) medical advice and information from a health care professional;
d) psychological advice and information from an educational psychologist;
e) advice and information in relation to social care;
f) advice and information from any other person the local authority thinks appropriate;
g) where the child or young person is in or beyond year 9, advice and information in relation to provision to assist the child or young person in preparation for adulthood and independent living; and
h) advice and information from any person the child’s parent or young person reasonably requests that the local authority seek advice from.

H includes things like SALT, OT, physio, psychiatrist, clinical psychologist etc.

Existing reports can only be used instead if you, the LA and the report writer agree they are sufficient and up to date. The LA are likely to want to get their own reports.

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krobhix20 · 24/05/2022 18:02

Ok. So we've been granted a provisional spot at Chelsea Hall school which we will have to pay out of pocket until the EHCP is in place. While we can't actually apply until we have an address, is it recommended we start the paperwork before we get there. I just want to get a jump on everything if we can.

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AReallyUsefulEngine · 24/05/2022 19:31

until the EHCP is in place.

It may not be that simple. As Chelsea Hall school is a wholly independent school you don’t have a right to request it under s.38(3) CAFA 2014. Although you can ask for it you will need to prove the LA’s proposed school(s) cannot meet DC’s needs &/or it isn’t unreasonable public expenditure. So you may find the LA won’t name Chelsea Hall in the EHCP and force you to appeal.

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krobhix20 · 24/05/2022 22:26

Ohhhh boy. Well hopefully the school will be helpful in getting us to sort it all out.
This system is incredibly confusing and seems not designed to actually help kids get the assistance they need.

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