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

SN children

moving to London from US

62 replies

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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krobhix20 · 23/11/2022 10:40

updating here just in case this is ever searched by someone in the future who is moving from overseas with SN child. i can tell you they don't make it easy.

we applied for the EHCPNA in early August and got a response back in 2 weeks denying the assessment. i was persuaded by the mediator to go that route as he'd had a lot of success and typically the LA responds quickly. well that wasn't the case. they waited until the very last day of the 30 days they have to respond to say yes, we can have a mediation. i was infuriated because we had wasted a month. they set the mediation for the 11th of November which was still 6 weeks away at the time.

thankfully we are in the privileged position to have my partner's company paying the fees for my DS special school. the mothers at that school just told me to write the LA directly with the legal definition of the EHCPNA and how I had already done that. I had submitted 80 pages of documentation. my DS was in a special school in the states and had already been accepted at a special school here and been attending since September. within a day they responded and reversed their decision and are agreeing to access.

we are now in the middle of the process with an outcome expected late January. i am praying the LA agree to let him stay at his current school. he is thriving. he loves going to school everyday. he's made great friends. he bakes at home every tuesday and takes treats in for his friends the next day. the school day is loaded with therapies. the staff love him and are happy to have him and we have seen such progress at home.

i'll update here again once we gotten the final outcome.

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AReallyUsefulEngine · 23/11/2022 10:56

Mediation rarely works. LAs use it as a delaying tactic. If the LA are going to concede they will do so regardless of whether you actively take part in mediation or just get the mediation certificate and submit to SENDIST.

If you haven’t already you need to request any assessments e.g. SALT, OT you want in writing.

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krobhix20 · 23/11/2022 11:00

We have had SaLT and EP assessments. I've asked 5 times now for CAHMS assessment.

Maybe I will ask for OT as well. He gets OT as a part of the school, but maybe we would benefit from additional documentation.

Thankfully the EP saw him at school and after assessing him and speaking with us she is going to recommend that he needs the provision that he currently has. There are few schools that offer what his school has so hopefully that means he can stay as well.

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AReallyUsefulEngine · 23/11/2022 11:19

You need to ask for an OT assessment. Provision in EHCPs is taken from the reports. If there isn’t any OT provision in the reports, which there won’t be without an OT assessment, there won’t be any in the EHCP. This is especially important if you want an independent SS named as without all the necessary provision in the EHCP the LA won’t name a more expensive option.

It’s also important provision is detailed, specified and quantified in the EHCP as otherwise DS may not receive the provision and there won’t be anything you can do the enforce the provision.

Email the LA’s Director of Children’s Services reminding them of their duty under Reg 6(1)(h) SEND Regs 2014 to seek advice from anyone you reasonably request. You want to ask specifically for advice from a psychiatrist &/or a clinical psychologist because if you just ask for advice from CAMHS it could be anyone there regardless of their qualifications.

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krobhix20 · 28/11/2022 12:04

I requested a CAHMS assessment and a OT assessment from LA for the EHCP.
Just received this response from our LA assessment officer and I have no idea what it means.

"I have received a response from CaMHS to say that DS is not known to them, I will however, be completing a referral to them and will let you know when they respond.

I have also contacted the OT department to request that they carry out an assessment, this will have to be additionally commissioned by the local authority
as DS school is out of the Wandsworth borough and is an independent specialist. Again I will let you know once they respond to me."

I understand all of the words, but don't really know what this means at all. English is my first language, hell it's my only language, but my American English is not prepared for this EHCP process. All of it constantly feels foreign to me. What is she saying here? Of course CAMHS isnt aware of my son, isn't that why I am asking the LA to book the assessment? Why is OT and additional commissioning? The SaLT and EP were fine. What does his school have to do with anything?

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Thatsnotmycar · 28/11/2022 12:29

Of course CAMHS isnt aware of my son, isn't that why I am asking the LA to book the assessment?

No, some pupils will already be known to CAMHS but need advice from them as part of the EHCNA. Advice sought as part of an EHCNA and the reports written are generally very different to normal NHS services. Reports from e.g. a clinic appointment won’t detail, specify and quantify needs, provision and outcomes in the way an EHCNA report should.

“Not known to the service” is not an acceptable response. You don’t need a normal referral and to sit on the normal waiting list if that is what the LA mean by referral. The timescales still apply. Just because DS isn’t already known to CAMHS doesn’t remove the LA’s duties under the SEND Regs 2014.

What the LA mean about OT is they will have to fund an assessment outside of their usual contract because DS isn’t in a state school within their LA. The LA pay for set services and anything outside the scope of the services they have paid for needs paying for separately. This is quite common and nothing to worry about. You do however need to make sure the LA stick to the EHCP timescales because often LAs use needing to arrange assessments like this as an excuse to delay, which is unacceptable.

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krobhix20 · 02/12/2022 11:21

i'm sure this has been asked and answered before but can I get a private assessment from a paediatrician for ADHD diagnosis or ASD for the EHCP. i don't think the LA is making any headway or trying to with CAHMS

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Thatsnotmycar · 02/12/2022 14:25

Paediatricians don’t diagnose ADHD you need a psychiatrist.

Do you mean you pay for a private ASD &/or ADHD assessment? If so, you can and the LA can’t refuse to accept the assessment and any potential diagnosis just because they are private.

Or do you mean get the LA to pay for a private ASD &/or ADHD assessment as part of the EHCNA? In which case this is probably unlikely. However, as part of the EHCNA you can ask for advice to be sought from a paediatrician, a psychiatrist &/or clinical psychologist and if the LA can’t assess within the timescales in house/via the NHS they must commission an independent assessment. Although this won’t necessarily be a diagnostic assessment, more focused on needs, provision, outcomes for the EHCP as EHCPs aren’t based on diagnosis but on needs.

Have you written to the LA’s Director of Children’s Services reminding them of their duties under the SEND regs?

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krobhix20 · 07/01/2023 23:53

So finally heard back from LA,

"It may be the CaMHS decision will not be reached in time for DS's EHCNA meeting, but please do not worry as any information from this can be added to DS's EHCP at a later time, if issued."

Do I have any recourse here? I can't imagine I can get a private assessment in next 3 weeks.

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Ilovechoc12 · 08/01/2023 08:01

Private assessments with the highly regarded professionals take months on a waiting list unless you really drop lucky with a cancellation. If you think you might want one later down the line - I'd get on the wait list- you don't need to but it's not a quick process- depends if you want to spend roughly £1200 for each OT/Salt/EP etc

I wouldn't have high hopes of cahms. Too many children and not enough resources. People can wait years to see them. (We did too) maybe you will enter faster as you came from overseas. We have only seen a nurse in cahms too to hand out adhd meds.

Sorry I'm confused - do you have your diagnosis already?

The EHCP is a slow delay tactic - the slower the LAs are the less cash they have to give out. Yes you can say x,y,Z to quote some law statements but it's all a pile of rubbish. I never known anyone in the sen world to have a smooth process - I hope someone has but it's always a fight. Maybe your the lucky one 🤞🤞🤞or maybe out of the 30 sen mummies I know we are unlucky with our LA - who knows as it's known to be rubbish (surrey)

Mine took 2 yrs and a tribunal and I had a tribunal in sept won everything he still has had no salt and no OT and the fees are still incorrect to this day- so NEVER be surprised by LAs they are shocking.

You could use an advocate if you don't fancy all the stress to write to LA etc

Suppose it's fab your child is settled in school and happy 🤩🤩🤩🤩 hopefully your husbands employer will keep paying the fees so you don't have that stress

Good luck - I hope you have better luck and a quicker turnaround in SW London LA.

X

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Thatsnotmycar · 08/01/2023 08:33

Email the Director of Children’s Services reminding them of their duty under Reg 6(1)(h) of the SEND Regs 2014. Point out anyone approached for advice must respond within 6 weeks as per Reg 8(1) of the SEN Regs and 9.52 of the SENCOP. Go on to say their legal duties apply regardless of waiting lists or lack of professionals, and if the NHS cannot give advice within the statutory timescales the LA must commission independent advice, failure to comply would be a breach of their statutory duties.

People can wait years to see them.

Not when it’s part of an EHCNA they don’t. The statutory timescales apply and parents can enforce them.

You only seeing a nurse is why it is important to be specific when you make the request for advice to be sought. Otherwise it could be anyone from CAMHS.

but it's all a pile of rubbish.

No it isn’t. Unless you choose not to take enforcement action that is. Quoting the law at the Director of Children’s Services isn’t rubbish because they sometimes cave when they know parents know their rights, and if the LA continue to act unlawfully you can threaten judicial review and then send a pre-action letter. Often the threat is enough, but if it isn’t a pre-action letter usually works. I have enforced my own DC’s provision and helped hundreds of parents (on MN and IRL) and every single one, including some in Surrey, who has needed to has successfully enforced provision. If SALT and OT are specified and quantified in F and DS isn’t receiving them begin the JR process. If school fees aren’t being paid and the placement is named in I do the same.

OP if you use an advocate choose wisely. It isn’t a regulated business and some advocates can do more harm than good.

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Ilovechoc12 · 08/01/2023 14:57

Thatsnotmycar · 08/01/2023 08:33

Email the Director of Children’s Services reminding them of their duty under Reg 6(1)(h) of the SEND Regs 2014. Point out anyone approached for advice must respond within 6 weeks as per Reg 8(1) of the SEN Regs and 9.52 of the SENCOP. Go on to say their legal duties apply regardless of waiting lists or lack of professionals, and if the NHS cannot give advice within the statutory timescales the LA must commission independent advice, failure to comply would be a breach of their statutory duties.

People can wait years to see them.

Not when it’s part of an EHCNA they don’t. The statutory timescales apply and parents can enforce them.

You only seeing a nurse is why it is important to be specific when you make the request for advice to be sought. Otherwise it could be anyone from CAMHS.

but it's all a pile of rubbish.

No it isn’t. Unless you choose not to take enforcement action that is. Quoting the law at the Director of Children’s Services isn’t rubbish because they sometimes cave when they know parents know their rights, and if the LA continue to act unlawfully you can threaten judicial review and then send a pre-action letter. Often the threat is enough, but if it isn’t a pre-action letter usually works. I have enforced my own DC’s provision and helped hundreds of parents (on MN and IRL) and every single one, including some in Surrey, who has needed to has successfully enforced provision. If SALT and OT are specified and quantified in F and DS isn’t receiving them begin the JR process. If school fees aren’t being paid and the placement is named in I do the same.

OP if you use an advocate choose wisely. It isn’t a regulated business and some advocates can do more harm than good.

Thank you for your responses.

I think you helped me previously! With sos JR as I never knew it cost so little. Only costing less than £200 which I never knew about.

The whole sen word is crazy. Cash is limited and schools are few ....

We had a tribunal in sept and won - it was no surprise. The LA had no evidence. The judge was surprised it even went to tribunal. The judge was really cross with thh he e case worker and she has left now too 😂😂😂😂

I wrote to sinead Mooney, Rachel wardle, Clare Curran, Liz mills (cabinet member of education and learning, director of education and lifelong learning, executive director for families and life long learning) on the 18 November - guess how many of those people replied - to actually "get" or "receive" what I won at tribunal - absolutely not one of them!!!!! Mean while my son has had nothing he "won" at tribunal in sept.

After doing a stage 1 and Stage 2 compliant - surrey agreed that there is NO salt or No OT that are suitable but they have contacted 15 people. Therefore I'm on a waiting list - after a tribunal 😂😂😂😂😂

The entire process is beyond a joke.

The nurse at cahms is absolutely amazing to be fair. I do feel very blessed to have her. She has a son with ASD/ adhd so at least she understands it all. But I think I waited 2.5 yrs for cahms.....

Too little cash too many people needing help.

Such a shame 🥲

OP - I hope you are luckier than me. It's destroyed my mental health x

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